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Cell Phone Signal Strength Varies With Phones?
Old 03-09-2018, 12:00 PM   #1
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Cell Phone Signal Strength Varies With Phones?

We have very poor cell phone coverage at our house.

Lena (DW) has a super-cheap phone and uses TracFone.

I have a reasonably good Huawei phone (purchased in Sweden) and use H2OWireless.

Lena can get 0-3 bars in our house. I can never get a signal with my phone.

My understanding is that we're both using the same towers, so I conclude that her phone is better at picking up the signal.

Is that correct?
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Old 03-09-2018, 12:55 PM   #2
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I'm watching this thread. DW has a fancy iPhone 6 and I have an el-cheapo Android and I get better reception that her, both on PagePlus plans.
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Old 03-09-2018, 01:00 PM   #3
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Poor cell reception at home can be improved with WiFi calling, which uses the home WiFi network to channel cell phone calls.
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Old 03-09-2018, 01:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
My understanding is that we're both using the same towers, so I conclude that her phone is better at picking up the signal.

Is that correct?
Yes.

Fancy phones are packed tight with electronics in a thin package. The placement of the internal antenna may be compromised, in exchange for aesthetic considerations. The laws of physics still prevail here.
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Old 03-09-2018, 01:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
We have very poor cell phone coverage at our house.

Lena (DW) has a super-cheap phone and uses TracFone.

I have a reasonably good Huawei phone (purchased in Sweden) and use H2OWireless.

Lena can get 0-3 bars in our house. I can never get a signal with my phone.

My understanding is that we're both using the same towers, so I conclude that her phone is better at picking up the signal.

Is that correct?
Can you switch to WiFi calling? That solves any at home reception issues.

The phones do have to be new enough to handle that capability. But it is super nice and resolves in building reception issues.

We have super sh*tty cellphone reception at our house. WiFi calling is awesome and we never have to deal with dropped calls now. Unless we lose internet temporarily, in which case we may have to step outside. Rarely happens though.

Also good for being buried inside a large building if you have access to the building’s WiFi Internet.
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Old 03-09-2018, 01:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
Poor cell reception at home can be improved with WiFi calling, which uses the home WiFi network to channel cell phone calls.
Quote:
Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
Can you switch to WiFi calling?
I'm not sure I can implement that with our phones.

I did try it using Google Voice, but it failed like crazy. Undependable.

My plan is to get new phones via H20Wireless. If we could get phones with that feature it would be

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Old 03-09-2018, 01:30 PM   #7
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Yes, it is possible that her phone has a better antenna.

Are you sure you're both on the same network though? According to Wikipedia, H20 uses AT&T, but TracFone could be on Verizon, Sprint, AT&T or TMobile. You can use an app like Signal Spy to figure out whose network you're actually on.
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Old 03-09-2018, 01:30 PM   #8
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Hmm. Stucco house wrapped in chickenwire = bad reception inside. My old $40 Windows phone used to work with wifi calling - great idea!

bummer. At&T and the Iphone 5s don't show wifi calling as an option. Tommy Chong thumbs down.
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Old 03-09-2018, 01:44 PM   #9
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Android app called "Network Cell Info" will give you details of signal strength and a map showing what tower(s) you are using. You can compare the two phones. Network Cell Info
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Old 03-09-2018, 01:44 PM   #10
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From H2OWireless chat:

Me:
So, my question is: Do any of the phones you sell have wifi calling built in?
15:31

H2OWIRELESS Ann-H2o:
I am sorry, our network does not support WiFi calling service. Hopefully the service will be available in the future.
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Old 03-09-2018, 02:54 PM   #11
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H2OWIRELESS Ann-H2o:
I am sorry, our network does not support WiFi calling service. Hopefully the service will be available in the future.
Bummer. WiFi calling is the only thing that worked inside our house. If using the cell at home is an important feature, it might be worth your while to look at other phone / carrier options.

Another option is a cell booster. A decent one is pricey ($300 - $500), it’s best installed in an attic, and it only works for some types of cell signals (4g, for example). If you go this route, make sure you get a “no questions asked” return policy, as boosters don’t always solve the signal issue.
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Old 03-09-2018, 03:14 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post

I have a reasonably good Huawei phone (purchased in Sweden) and use H2OWireless.

Lena can get 0-3 bars in our house. I can never get a signal with my phone.
Have you confirmed that your Sweden purchased phone has the correct radio bands for the USA? Huawei makes separate phones for the USA. Some of the foreign phones may not receive all the USA bands including the faster better ones. I know since I helpd a relative by a Huawei phone recently. We got a big scare when one guy complained online that his phone did not work well with the GSM carriers. It seems he bought his in India and got a 'great' deal. Alas, not so great since leaving India
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Old 03-09-2018, 03:25 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by calmloki View Post
Hmm. Stucco house wrapped in chickenwire = bad reception inside. My old $40 Windows phone used to work with wifi calling - great idea!

bummer. At&T and the Iphone 5s don't show wifi calling as an option. Tommy Chong thumbs down.


Calmloki - on iPhone 5s go to Settings/Cellular, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page, there you should find an option to turn on wi-fi assist.

Iím also on AT&T in a stucco house + metal roof....I can never get a signal. I just turned it on, crossing my fingers that this will help.
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Old 03-09-2018, 04:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
We have very poor cell phone coverage at our house.

Lena (DW) has a super-cheap phone and uses TracFone.

I have a reasonably good Huawei phone (purchased in Sweden) and use H2OWireless.

Lena can get 0-3 bars in our house. I can never get a signal with my phone.

My understanding is that we're both using the same towers, so I conclude that her phone is better at picking up the signal.

Is that correct?
Yes
With the ocean to your West and the mountains to your East there are not many good choices for carriers in your area.
My cheapo Moto phone works in places where my iPad will not. H2OWireless used ATT network. Can you move to an MVNO that uses Vz?
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Old 03-09-2018, 04:21 PM   #15
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I've got terrible reception - I'm in a dead zone. A Microcell (they call it a CellSpot) in the house gives me five bars, and was provided by T-Mobile without charge. NB: You need the CellSpot, not the bootster.

AT&T and Verizon also have similar devices, but AT&T charged for it. (I don't know about Verizon.)
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Old 03-09-2018, 04:35 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
From H2OWireless chat:

Me:
So, my question is: Do any of the phones you sell have wifi calling built in?
15:31

H2OWIRELESS Ann-H2o:
I am sorry, our network does not support WiFi calling service. Hopefully the service will be available in the future.
I have Google Voice and Hangouts apps on my Android. It works but is kind of a pain as you have to keep manually switching it from WiFi to cell. Not too bad if you are only calling out.
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Old 03-09-2018, 04:55 PM   #17
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With the ocean to your West and the mountains to your East there are not many good choices for carriers in your area...
In 2012, we spent a week in Point Arena, about 200 mi south of where I think T-Al is. This area is really sandwiched between the sea and a mountainous area of Mendocino Forest. It's a lot worse.

People there had no Internet access, except via satellite. Why can't they run a fiber along the road? I do not recall if we had mobile phone service or not.

Driving around the area, I stumbled across the nearby Manchester switching station, where the undersea optic cable linking the US to Asia rose from the sea. Perversely for the locals, it is like living right near a 20-lane freeway, but having no access ramp to get to it.
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Old 03-09-2018, 05:20 PM   #18
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Calmloki - on iPhone 5s go to Settings/Cellular, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page, there you should find an option to turn on wi-fi assist.

Iím also on AT&T in a stucco house + metal roof....I can never get a signal. I just turned it on, crossing my fingers that this will help.
The thing is that the provider has to support the phone technology as well as the phone having the capability.

According to one website 2015 discussion specifically discussing AT&T support for the iPhone 5s:
Quote:
I can tell you the iPhone 5s and 5c do not and never will support wifi calling on ATT. For wifi calling to work on any phone on ATT it has to be HDvoice(VoLTE) compliant which the 5s and 5c are not. ATT chose this route and its how there going forward with it.
But others claim that AT&T chose not to support wifi calling on the iPhone 5S:
Quote:
Uh huh. The 5S chipset is capable of supporting VoLTE. It is disabled by the carrier to strong-arm consumers into upgrading their devices. Sprint supports HDvoice on the 5S/C BTW.
https://forums.att.com/t5/Account-Fe...S/td-p/4324917

More recent discussion here:
https://forums.att.com/t5/Apple/WiFi...s/td-p/5328537

I do remember that T-mobile started supporting WiFi Calling about a year before Verizon and AT&T did. It was a big incentive for us to switch. But now all major carriers are supporting it - I guess it's more of a question of which phones they decided to support when they added that capability.
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Old 03-09-2018, 05:34 PM   #19
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FWIW there is a pretty good one-day sale at Amazon today for both Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P phones. The 5x has both GSM and CDMA and I believe the 6P does as well. The 5X supports wifi calling at least on Project Fi. Probably the 6P does as well, but we have 5x phones on Project Fi so that's the only model I can be sure about.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=gbps_ti...R&tag=b0c55-20

Regarding cell phone boosters I am using them both here for my basement office and at our lake place. Both installations were relatively easy and work fine. At the lake, the antenna is outside on a 15' tower on the garage roof.
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Old 03-09-2018, 05:47 PM   #20
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Calmloki - on iPhone 5s go to Settings/Cellular, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page, there you should find an option to turn on wi-fi assist.

I’m also on AT&T in a stucco house + metal roof....I can never get a signal. I just turned it on, crossing my fingers that this will help.
Wifi assist claims to "Automatically use cellular data when wifi connectivity is poor". Checked and already had it switched on, but think it isn't for using wifi for phone calls. Hint: think this bit us in times past when our router shut down at night and the gal was listening to something all night using (she thought) wifi. We woke up that month to a biiiigg data charge.
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