Design & DIY

How to boost cell reception at the cottage

It’s plagued us since Alexander Graham Bell built a little place on Cape Breton Island: poor cottage phone service. We’ve escaped the party line, but 21st-century cottagers now suffer feeble cell signals leading to dropped calls and inconsistent access. Because there are few cell towers and the terrain at the lake is rough, signals may not even penetrate the walls.

The solution is a signal booster, a device analogous to TV and radio repeaters. First, install 
a high-gain antenna in a place with a consistent signal. If you don’t know where the sweet spot is, use your phone to locate the most “bars.” Next, run coaxial cable inside the building to an amplifier (“repeater”). A second antenna—far from the first antenna to prevent feedback—rebroadcasts the strengthened signal.

Mobile systems for cars, boats, and RVs cover up to 200 square feet; systems for dwellings cover up to 2,000 sq. ft. You can purchase kits with antennas, amp, and cable from Wireless-Solutions, Signifi Mobile, and others, starting at about $400.

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