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The legal ways to boost your mobile phone reception

Posted on 14 May 2010 at 10:24

Paul Ockenden explains how to beat a mobile deadspot without breaking the law

What do you do when your home or office is situated in a mobile reception blank spot, or in a place where receiving a signal involves standing on the washing machine with one leg on the fridge and your head pressed against the ceiling?

Read Paul's latest advice on how to boost your mobile reception here

Either situation is an impossible way to run your business life, and with the advent of mobile clients for social networks, such a lack of signal may adversely affect your social life too. Of course, you could simply change network, selecting the one that offers the best signal for your location, but for people with a company-supplied mobile phone that isn’t even an option, since you usually have to take what you’re given.

Perhaps you live or work in a location where there isn’t the faintest signal from any of the mobile networks: such places do exist, especially in remote coastal valleys. Changing networks wouldn’t make a jot of difference there, so what do you do in a situation like that?

Actually, there’s a host of things you can try, but the one I urge you not to try is installing a cheap mobile phone booster or repeater. You’ll find several UK companies selling these on eBay or Google, but none of them mention that using such devices is totally illegal. It’s one of those peculiarly British law mess-ups that makes it legal to sell repeaters, legal to own them, but not legal to use them!

Ofcom says “Repeater devices transmit or re-transmit in the cellular frequency bands. Only the mobile network operators are licensed to use equipment that transmits in these bands. Installation or use of repeater devices by anyone without a licence is a criminal offence under Section 8 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006. Any person found guilty of installing or using such devices without a licence would be liable on conviction to a fine of up to £5,000 and/or up to 51 weeks’ imprisonment.”

Given this clear and unambiguous prohibition, I find it amazing that various forums are littered with people discussing their use of repeaters within their homes and small offices, some even posting photos of how they’ve installed the kit. They might as well post a picture of a £5,000 cheque made payable to HM Court Services.

Legal options

Luckily, you have several legal options, the first being to use Voice over IP (VoIP) to make and receive calls from your black spot, which of course involves having a wireless network, a smartphone with Wi-Fi capability, and some kind of VoIP client software.

Some phones (notably Nokia’s higher-end devices) have VoIP built in and properly integrated into their operating system, but for others you’ll need to download and run a VoIP app. With most of these applications you’ll struggle to seamlessly route calls direct to the phone when you’re within mobile signal range and via VoIP when you’re not, and even if you find a system that does provide this functionality, it will probably involve changing your mobile number to route incoming calls via a third-party.

As an alternative, forget VoIP and use one of the “find me” single-number providers that ring round a programmed sequence of numbers to locate you – mobile, office, home and so on. The problem is that unless you regularly update them to try your current location first, they give a shifty and, frankly, unprofessional impression to callers as they ring around all your different numbers. (Some VoIP providers offer a similar system.)

Not sounding too good so far, is it? Luckily, not all black-spot remedies are clunky or illegal – I’ve recently started testing some better solutions and will report back more fully in a few months’ time. Probably the most mature of these is UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) over Wi-Fi, and the only network that currently offers it in the UK is Orange. It requires a phone that has Wi-Fi and is also UMA-enabled, which to date – considering only mainstream models – restricts you to half-a-dozen BlackBerrys, a few Nokias, and odd models from Samsung, HTC and LG. I’ve been doing my own UMA test using a BlackBerry Bold 9700 and a Nokia 6310.

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User comments

Another Way

Equally simple and the most reliable is to switch on call-forwarding to your land-line!
Did you enquire if it was possible to actually get a licence for a re-transmitter?
Regards
Arni Highfield

By rahighfield on 15 May 2010

Switching to your landline is fine for calls, but phones are about so much more than voice these days: text, IM, emails, data...

And yes, Ofcom repeated their line that "only the mobile network operators are licensed to use equipment that transmits in these bands".

By PaulOckenden on 15 May 2010

Another Way

How about a passive repeater? Basically this is consists of two high gain antennas linked, one pointing to the base station and the other to the are of poor reception. There would be no issue with regulatory authorities as there are no active components that may introduce spurious signals or in any other way break the protocol.

By noddy14 on 16 May 2010

@noddy14
Some services do place a limit of an effective radiated power (ERP) which places a limit on directional antennas.

By DrTeeth on 16 May 2010

No chance of this happening even if the phone is placed within the near field of antenna. The path loss is simply too large.

By noddy14 on 16 May 2010

Vodafone Femtocell

We use one at work and it works most of the time but every now and again (eg this morning) loses contact with the VF Servers or whatever it connects to. It seems to take forever to "logon" to its remote service; the Ethernet port flashes orange every so many seconds and that's it. There's no way of knowing what's going on apart from the status lights on the box itself.

Some form of GUI would be useful if only to see what the link status is like. Without that there is no way the end user can help get rid of, probably, bugs in the firmware/software on the device.

I think these boxes are a work in progress.

The administrator options on the VF website are not 100% robust. I set myself up as an administrator of the device at my home email address. When I try and accept the registration from home it fails with some obscure message. I tried VF customer support but they weren't any help.

All in all it works but is flaky at times.

By Stocomm on 20 May 2010

Wrong Nokia?

You got me excitedly digging out my old Nokia 6310i which doesn't have UMA. I guess you meant the 6301?

By BruceCk on 20 May 2010

Yes, sorry, slip of the pixels there...

By PaulOckenden on 20 May 2010

Testing Nextivity Celfi

We are testing the nextivity celfi for T-Mobile in 2 locations and the results have been great. We also have a femtocel provided by T-Mobile last year and this is really good, never had a problem yet (although only 2G)

By chasdrury on 7 Jun 2010

Are the possible new systems only signle provider

Do any of the systems you mention work for all providers? Looking for something for our home as have virtual no signal but providers used are Orange, TMobile, 02 and Vodafone.

By Leonie50 on 10 Oct 2010

No Other Option

I have tried everything to boost mobile signal. I have contacted O2 and they have given me written confirmation to use a Mobile repeater as they cannot get a decent signal into the property go to your network and ask for permission as they are the license holder! I brought one from http://www.mobilerepeatershop.com it was the cheapest on the net I cannot live without it.

By helpishere on 30 Jun 2011

Years ago I had a mobile phone booster for my car (provided by the company). It was brilliant for picking up reception where the signal strength was poor. Presumably these were legal, but can you get them today?

By Netleyman on 12 Jul 2011

Legal use

According to Myamplifiers.com their product is legal in the UK.
"Dear Sir, we have all CE and RoHs. Yes, they are legal.
If you have any questions, please, don't hesitate to ask them"
Who's breaking the law if I use one?

By DavidRoster on 22 Aug 2011

Illegal to USE

Which would you rather believe, an email from a shop selling these things or a statement on the Regulator's website?

Lots of companies selling these things claim they are legal. But they would, wouldn't they!

By PaulOckenden on 22 Aug 2011

External Aerial for Weak Signal

Why not an antenna in/on the roof down to blue tooth phone with an aerial socket.Link another phone/headset. Thus lose the land line. Can you get a blue tooth box with a gsm wifi output so as to run the internet as well or would that be too slow?

By lugifust on 2 Sep 2011

External Aerial for Weak Signal

Why not an antenna in/on the roof down to blue tooth phone with an aerial socket.Link another phone/headset. Thus lose the land line. Can you get a blue tooth box with a gsm wifi output so as to run the internet as well or would that be too slow?

By lugifust on 2 Sep 2011

Mobile phone signal Boosters

The best way to boost the phone signal is with a mobile signal booster from www.phonesignal.co.uk
We have a selection of repeaters for small offices to warehouses

By wwwphonesignalcouk on 19 Sep 2011

Does your website mention that active boosters are illegal to use? I can't see that anywhere.

By PaulOckenden on 19 Sep 2011

Nextivity Ce-Fi -3G mobile signal booster

Have a look at the Cel-Fi RS2 by Nextivity. It can boost it to 5 bars. No internet connection is required or service fees added on. Just a little bit of 3G signal strength and Cel-Fi system will bring quick downloads, effortless video streaming and internet surfing, and improved voice coverage throughout the building. Frequency Telecom is about to start distribution http://www.frequencytelecom.co.uk/nextivity in the UK and there is a consumer website coming up soon www.cel-fi.co.uk . We have one in the office (reception at our place is really bad)and it's great!

By sk00007 on 19 Sep 2011

How many people have been prosecuted?

Any ideas? Is this something one could ask under FOI act? I suspect if any have, they have been taking the mickey with a badly installed or very 'noisy' system that has attracted the attention of neighbours and therefore the radio police (DTI or w/e it's called theses days). After all, as I understand it the network just sees another mobile phone - nothing to say it is a repeater.... so how is anyone going to know? This also rather suggests that there isn't any technical issue in using the better designed repeater systems in the first place - just the networks and G'ment protecting their interests (understandably). MW

By martinw1nlow on 1 Oct 2011

Nextivity Ce-Fi -3G mobile signal booster

looks like the solution I need for home. How likely is this to be licensed for other networks?

By Flatpack on 7 Oct 2011

Cel-Fi from Nextivity

@Flatpack Cel-Fi has officially been approved by Orange and T-Mobile and is compatible with O2. We are currently in discussions with O2 and 3, so fingers crossed it is soon available for these networks as well. If you have any questions have a look at the official UK website www.cel-fi.co.uk as it's live now :)

By sk00007 on 16 Nov 2011

@sk00007 that really is great news. i'm very grateful for all your efforts.

By khumu on 5 Dec 2011

Using GSM/UMTS repeaters

It may well be frowned upon but there is simply not a hope in hell of prosecution be brought against anyone for using a small 1-2 watt output KU band transciever, which is what such a device is. 3 UK actually use these devices and offer them to their customers should their 3g signal at home be weak, i should know, i have one! Transmitting gsm data at up to 10w,propagated via an antenna all eminating from a box nailed to a wall, has been commonplace for years in alarm system set-ups...in fact, by their very nature, every mobile phone in existence redistributes gsm (or whatever) data packets. So such a uniform law is daft and no-one who suffers poor 2g/3g reception should bother about anything the DTI legislates for. Unless you build a repeater that hinders,restricts or alters existing digital packets communication, you have nothing to concern yourself with...fm transmitters are by similar definition illegal too..but they are widely used and have been for years without anyone succumbing to prosecition...only radio pirates fall foul of the law and it's because they operate at much higher wattage (output power) than the wee device you plug into your ipod...it's all about legal and practical perspective. Your 2/3g repeater is perfectly safe, and tacitly legal to use. I'll say it again, if you need such a device, buy one, i would suggest a chinese import via ebay...you'll pay a fraction what another poster is selling them at and probably a better product with a better aerial and whatever. And no, im not nuts and im not Chinese. Just happens thats where they are manufactured and you pay a LOT less buying from HK via a reputable ebay trader.

By tommyd on 30 Dec 2011

@tommyd

Yes, Three sometimes provides customers with repeaters. As do the other mobile networks. They are allowed to! You say that repeaters are "tacitly legal to use" - sorry, but that's just utter tosh. If the authorities turn a blind eye to these things, as you appear to be suggesting, why does Ofcom go to great lengths to specifically mention them and the penalties for using them on its website?

There ARE legal alternatives, as I've covered over several columns in PC Pro. You be bonkers to risk running an illegally imported repeater, and it's really silly to advise others to do so.

By PaulOckenden on 30 Dec 2011

PaulOckenden

Hi Paul, thanks for your reply, however, the so-called legal alternatives you mention are either devices that switch to a land line based wi/fi network should the 3g signal become so weak, or passive repeaters (which are completely useless) But what if you dont have a land line and a wi/fi set-up? Your suggestions are null and void and, for some odd reason, you seem intent on pointing folk towards land lines and wi/fi set-ups. I am advocating for those who only want 3g access and do not wish for a land line based set-up, in which case a 3g repeater is an absolute must. Assuming there is at least a hint of signal, a decent 3g repeater will suffice lovely. It is not 'bonkers' to risk anything of the sort as the DTI couldnt care less for anyone using a 3g repeater, how on earth could 3 UK, Vodaphone, O2 and a plethora of BSI accredited alarm system manufacturers sell and operate all their microwave band transceiver equipment?? I can tell you that there has never been an instance in UK law, EU law or international criminal action brought on any individual, company or organisation relating to radio transmission anywhere on the planet in relation to 3g repeaters. That is an absolute fact. Like i said, the DTI legislates by way of umbrella laws but there is room for common sense and 3g repeaters are indeed that...if they werent, you could surely quote examples of succesful prosecutions. You couldnt though, because there are no such instances and never will be, unless some clown were to construct the 3g equivalent of a pirate radio station..i'll say it again, 3g repeaters are not just safe to use, they are also a requirement for many and scare stories about the DTI are just way of the mark.

By tommyd on 30 Dec 2011

RE: Paul

To put it another way...the legalities of the telecomunications act and any other legislation of that ilk should be observed, of course they have to be but such laws, in the case of 3g repeaters, would only be in contention if a person (and their device) were to cause an obvious problem to others, which could only be achieved by deliberate malice, not to mention an incredible grasp of electronics, rf microwave use and radio principles...to somehow construct a device that would inhibit or corrupt data transmission. We really are talking something else, yes, akin to the FM pirates. All the orgs (3 UK, Vodaphone etc) could not use such equipment if the DTI had issue with such. That is my point and if anyone is concerned about the DTI and their legislation, well, if it's good enough for such companies as i mention...it's good enough for us all.

By tommyd on 30 Dec 2011

one more thing...

...excuse the 3 part post..you mention that 3 UK are 'allowed to' use such equipment. Yes, they are and WITHOUT any sort of broadcast license! Broadcast licenses for reserved airspace, for any frequency, are protected by UK legislation, however in practise, prosecution would only be used if an individual and their device were to broadcast in such a manner that would cause harm to existing radio traffic. Yes, like you say, 3 UK are allowed to, and by giving me such a device, such privelage extends to me personaly, for use at my home, NOT at a DTI licensed cell-site of 3 UK. You see what i'm getting at here?? What on earth makes the brand on the unit, or who provided it, questionable in any way?? If it does the same thing as what 3 Uk's device does, then what exactly is the problem?? On such grounds, the DTI wouldnt have a case going after anyone for using an off-the-shelve 3g repeater. Thats an absolute fact. tommy

By tommyd on 31 Dec 2011

Not enough time or space to answer all of that, but...

Not all of the devices I've written about using Wi-Fi or are passive repeaters. So I presume you don't actually read PC Pro? The Cel-Fi for example, or Virgin's SureSignal.

It's an interesting defence to say that it's OK to break laws if you won't get seen doing it. I must remember that next time I'm at a red traffic light and there's no policeman in sight.

As for 3, it is the holder of a licence to transmit in the particular bands (nothing to do with broadcast, by the way).

I'm always nervous about replying to posts which are full of inaccuracies but which end with "Thats an absolute fact". Sorry, just because you say something is true/legal/whatever doesn't make it so.

By PaulOckenden on 31 Dec 2011

RE: Paul

Sorry for the amount of posts, tiredness...anyways...You are right, I don't read PC Pro and had stumbled across this page however i did read your suggestions and unless i am missing something, none of them cater for a 3g only solution. Perhaps you forgot to mention the device you had in mind when uploading the article?? There are no 3g only devices in your article. As for inaccuracies? I am just not overly-pedantic, which is what you are and it is yourself that fails to grasp how law actually works in practise if you really believe some person with a 3g repeater, bought from ebay, will somehow succumb to prosecution from the DTI for using it in their house. It has never happened anywhere and never will. Now, if you dispute that, then give, at least, one single example of a succesful prosecution. Now, we can all be pedantic observers of DTI regulations and suffer no 3g or we can apply common sense and use a repeater. You fail to realise that the laws relating to ALL radio transmissions (yes, GSM packets, 3g packets too)is intended to both mantain and protect particular frequencies from being 'swamped' by unlicensed transmissions and other such rogue practise, NOT to waste tens of thousands of pounds(perhaps more) to bring a home based 3g user using a repeater to the civil or criminal courts. It is technically illegal to walk across the road without using the green man, but...I understand you don't want to contradict the DTI, being that you hold such office at such publication as Pc Pro but dont force your own peculiar agenda onto others. I would also be quite certain most of the UK public would feel the same.

By tommyd on 31 Dec 2011

Re: Using GSM/UMTS repeaters

@tommyd, leaving aside any questions of legality which I'm personally happy to risk, can you help with a couple of questions relating to your 30 December posting.
1. how/where did get hold of a repeater from 3UK? I'm a customer of theirs and can find nothing regarding such a device. I've trawled their website, phoned cs and sales and visited the flagship Westfield store and no one could help. I can't even find a history of them being previously available thru the normal second hand channels.
2. you mention repeaters being available on ebay direct from HK at a fraction of cost elsewhere, could you say what a good price would be (for a 2100MHZ device) as the stuff I found on ebay was more expensive than uk/eu webstores I saw

By AlexiR on 7 Jan 2012

The CB fiasco all over again?

I remember when 27MHz CB radio was initially banned in the UK. This didn't stop hundreds of CB shops opening in the UK selling the things!

Yes, a few people with bad rigs and huge masts got prosecuted. But only because they got stupid.

So I say, set up a system where there is a list of approved units and apply to a central address for a legal user license.

(I expect in the following months one of the UK phone providers will be selling the cel-Fi or equiv. in their shops and soon all the other carriers will come forward).


Heck the government want us to spend money to get over the current money crisis don't they?

By quatermass on 11 Jan 2012

Ofcom

It's worth noting that Ofcom has updated the advice on its website since the original article above was published. Please see http://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/radiocommunication-l
icences/mobile-wireless-broadband/cellular-wireles
s-broadband/policy-and-background/repeaters-booste
rs/

P.

By PaulOckenden on 12 Jan 2012

RE: Alexi R

Hi there Alexi, sorry for not replying sooner, too much work and all that. Anyways...The 3 device was not from 3 UK but instead from 3 Ireland and from all the stickers emblazoned on it, seems it had been previously used but it works ok. I got it due to some being available as trial units via my work. However i have since modified it to some extent, to increase the incoming signal strength, not (and this is important) to increase it's transmitted output. It is indeed a sort of Frankenstein affair but works fine. I live in a heavily urbanised and built up with tenements part of Glasgow (which could be anywhere here really...) so 3 in partiular has a tough time passing it's higher frequencies through such areas and their structures. However, i also know 3 UK are to provide such devices to their UK customers, and very soon too (late jan/beginning of feb according to 3 UK) and there is a website that you can lodge a complaint (of sorts..) regarding your providers coverage in your post code area, you give details and someone from 3 UK will actually call you, the next working day, and explain 3 UK's plans re these devices and if you are contract, will be told to wait till they are available and you will get one. It is a wee bit difficult having conversation it has to be said as they are based in India but persevere! Units from Ebay? If you can mount a yagi antenna outside, then by all means, i'd def suggest such a unit that has a yagi aerial, a decent (60db+) repeater/booster unit complete with an indoor antenna, as a complate package and such can be acquired for less than £150.00 inc postage from HK or mainland China. These units might take a bit of more messing about with but the performance increase is worth it by miles. I personaly never tried such a set-up but heard only good things from them and with a yagi aerial as a reciever, if it's aimed properly then you will be in shock at the difference, of course, you must be in sight of at least some signal remember. And yes, quatermass. Exactly like CB and i remember folk having aerials the size of 30 story tower blocks...on top of their cars!! Yep, it's about disturbing others via rogue radio transmission and with CB radio, if did sensibly, there will never be an issue.

By tommyd on 13 Jan 2012

Hi Paul

From the DTI website..

1.That the equipment is CE marked, indicating that the manufacturer has declared it complies with all relevant EU regulatory requirements, including the Radio equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment (R&TTE) Directive;
2. That the use of the equipment is specifically authorised in the UK, either via a licence or by regulations made by Ofcom to exempt the use from licensing

Now, from the above it does leave the DTI somewhat screwed re taking criminal (they mention criminal as opposed to civil) action as apparently a CE sticker on it exhonerates. That is extremely precarious if it's supposed to inhibit personal use of a repeater, as it is promoting such use and the legalities and indeed the actual confidence of a CE sticker mean zilch now (breast implants??!) Personaly and as someone who worked in the electronic sector for a long time, CE certification counts for nothing and isnt worth the wee sticky label it's emblazoned on (unlike the BSI which actually did mean quality) That's my rant at EU standards! But nonetheless, it does appear Ofcom are succumbing to a more rational point of view. I will say this, if a repeater is bastardised to transmit at output in excess of 5 watt, then it should be illegal, and having a high power (yes, even at >5 watt) microwave transmitter somewhere in your house would be inviting serious health problems! So there are other concerns too but i certainly stand by all i said regarding these units and for 3g only broadband users, they are essential. When i advise Chinese imports via Ebay, i mean units that operate at the same levels as 'known branded' types and share same technical specs, which means pretty much anything but research fully. You dont have to know the complexities to the nth degree, but enough to understand what will work for you.

By tommyd on 13 Jan 2012

@tommyd

Thanks for the feedback, my situation seems similar to yours; urban location but too many walls for a 2100Mhz signal to penetrate I checked some Irish sites for info on a 3.ie booster and came across something from Nextivity, is this what you have? http://nextivityinc.com/products. If Three will be offering these soon then I'll certainly take one but after many calls patiently explaining myself no one there seems to have any knowledge of such a product

By AlexiR on 13 Jan 2012

RE AlexiR

Yes Alexi, it is indeed a Nextivity manufactured unit. For some odd reason, the original branding had been covered by labels belonging to a small comms company, who do work for 3 in the Irish Republic seemingly. But the unit had been in the wars, it wasnt new and i admit, when i enquired about the signal to 3 UK being weak, i was fishing for a new unit:) i told the chap i had a 3 repeater already but had to return it as it was being loaned to me...the 3 rep was a bit flabbergasted and told me to switch it off and return it to an address of 3. I hung up! A few weeks later, i found a website that allowed me to enter some details and i was astounded when the next day, someone from 3 UK contacted me, heard my problem (i kept quiet about my device!) and passed on my issue, i was called later that day (all from India) and asked what i would like to do as they had no plans to upgrade the local cell-sites. They were basicaly asking if i wanted to be freed from the contract..i think..but i asked if they could give me a repeater, the chap went away, came back a few moments later and said 3 had no such units at that time but should have then by the end of jan/beg of feb, i cannot vouch for his sincerity but he certainly knew what i was talking about and 3 would give me a unit, though i would have to call again at a later time and ask as he couldnt put a to-do note on my account. So, 3 UK will supply you with a repeater, i don't know the terms but hopefully will soon. I wish i had the web address of the site i registered poor reception but shouldnt take too long to find as i stumbled across it myself.

By tommyd on 13 Jan 2012

It's the Nextivity device I wrote about in the original article! UK distributor is http://www.cel-fi.co.uk/

By PaulOckenden on 13 Jan 2012

@tommyd

The main point with the legal (network supplied) repeaters is that they are network specific. They'll only work on the frequencies allocated to that particular network (and on which that network has the rights to broadcast). The eBay style repeaters work across the whole band, and typically spew out all kinds of mush and harmonics. Try using an AM radio next to one. Then do the same with a Nextivity box.

By PaulOckenden on 13 Jan 2012

RE Alexi

I think this was the page i used...https://www.three.co.uk/Support/Signal_and_
Coverage/Feedback

By tommyd on 14 Jan 2012

RE: Paul

Hi Paul. Network specific frequency repeaters are built at slightly lower cost than a wideband unit. A repeater is a very high frequency bi-directional amplifier. It also includes a multiplex and mixing stage as to syncronize transmission packets with recieved data. Like a timing/sync crcuit, This principle is inherint with every GSM phone, be it 2g, 3g or 4g. Some handsets are limited to 2g, whilst others have 3g and some are tri-band etc...in other words, some phones are narrow-band whilst others are wide-band and repeaters are the same. There would be no reason other than a very unusual fault to occur that would have your phone or your repeater to 'spew out all sorts of rubbish' (like what exactly?) How many phones have you ever heard of that do that? So why would a repeater device do it?? For your info, Paul, these units are actually very simple in design and construction and the most important factor is simple rf isolation between input and output stages and such is dealt with simply through careful PCB design and case construction to a degree. The elecronics for the amps are a handful of components with the critical being GaaS transistors, arranged as a n channel darlington pair. Very simple and very cheap but also, very stable and such circuits dont lend themselves to causing issues like what you suggest and as for AM radios (what year is it??) All mobile phones cause digital noise to be heard on these things. Esp lesser GSM band frequencies like 800mhz. Try putting any handset near an AM radio. It will make all manner of noise, my iPhone makes my laptop quite tuneful at times when it drops between 3g and 2g. If you are genuinly interested in the nature of microwave radio principles (or radio principles generaly) then i suggest some reading. Don't read snippets and form completely irrational conclusions, which is what you are doing. If you don't like the notion of third party repeaters, just say it, don't use scare stories of being sent to the gallows or ruining AM radio reception. Neither 'argument' is anywhere near fact. And for your info, the nextevity units are built ok but are plastic pigs compared to some heavily reinforced alloy housed units, being sold at half the price on Ebay and yes, you guessed it, from China! I dont write articles for magazines and review products but i have been in the electronic industry for about 15 years, ranging from analogue broadcast to digital encryption systems and many other weird and wonderful matter. I do know what i'm talking about when it comes to electronics and rf principles. Trust me on that.

By tommyd on 14 Jan 2012

RE: Paul

Hi Paul, i really don't mean to be a geek ass, i am an engineer and just happen to know some things about elctronics and radio transmissions, television broadcast systems and how these things work, how their designed and how they may be constructed and whatever. I even have a drawer full of industry awards from large manufacturers through my years spent as an engineer. I repaired complex electronic equipment, though i work as an electrician these days, since the Chinese made things so cheap there is scarce market for repair now, so i have scant desire to promote Chinese built electronics but it's just the way things are now. And i am open minded, If i don't understand something i take interest in, I read about it and form an opinion through folk that know better than me...which there are many! However i feel this thread has become ever-so catty and perhaps even a bit childish. Sp to straighten a couple of things out. It would be nigh on impossible to fall victim to criminal proceeding for using a 3g repeater, we have established that even more so with the update of the Ofcom stance. Agreed? Are all of the repeaters sold, from China, via Ebay all operate through all frequencies? No. They certainly do not and such units are actually at a ratio of about 1-20 as they are quite rare, No. The vast majority of imported repeaters are narrow band and limited to either one GSM band or one particular 3G carrier frequency band and if you don't beleive me, Check ebay. This isn't me using tech guff to sway an argument, i am telling you to smply just check ebay and look for yourself. I have suffered rotten 3G performance and realised i could make it better, without too much expense and trouble and want others in the UK who are in the same situ to know there may be a solution, instaed of changing operators etc. I have no agenda whatsoever, only the want to genuinly help people. If you did, you would research your subject matter a bit more, at a fundamental level too if you want to educate the public on the use of radio devices, and by radio, i mean everything that uses the air to carry it's signal. GSM phones, FM radios, 3G things, UHF TV etc etc...maybe you should employ someone who actually knows the technicalities a bit more...like me:) So really, no hard feelings and if your magazine is on the look-out for someone who can offer such, you could do a lot worse than me. I have a good job already but would love to have gadgety things sent to me so i can take them to bits and whatever, then offer open advise and as a bonus, get paid for it too! Yep, i'll have some of that, so do keep me in mind should such a requirement arise. Yours, Tommy

By tommyd on 14 Jan 2012

I'll get back to you when the tears stop rolling down my face. I may be some time.

By PaulOckenden on 14 Jan 2012

RE:Paul

Exactly my sentiments when i read most of your comments, but hey, at least were introducing humour into the debate! Always keen to educate but also very glad i can offer it with a smile. And also extremely glad you have been entertained! I have too:) However, amidst the waffle of petty debate, I do hope the actual points discussed RE the legality, availability, practicalities and technical aspects of 3G repeaters have been made clearer to people looking for genuine information. I feel i have contributed to such, in a fair, unbalanced and factual manner. It's a lot more than can be said for yourself as your original advice was bum and you have still managed in all your posts to offer nothing informative whatsoever. As for the tears rolling down your face? I think you should get out more...it wasn't that funny:) Lets face it, with folk like yourself on the staff...

By tommyd on 16 Jan 2012

RE:Paul; Cont'd

...there is hope for us all in the world of Pc magazine journalism. Good luck, Tommy

By tommyd on 16 Jan 2012

This thread is probably dead now but in case someone finds it at a later date, here's my summary. After some considerable research I haven't been able to find any official cel-fi type device from Three (current or historic) in UK or IE. Three are however now trialing a femto type device for selected customers http://www.three.co.uk/homesignal

By AlexiR on 22 Feb 2012

@tommyd

Hi! great little thread going on here, love tommyd's feedback and advice.

Just wondered if you could help me? I currently have a Vodafone 3G setup in a rural work unit that i use to access a PC with my CCTV system installed, now, im using a Vodafone R201 router, and only seeing 2 bars of signal MAX and sometimes dropping to 1 bar in bad weather or at night. I sometimes get a HSUPA connection, but most of the time its just 3G. Before i go out and buy one of these 3G repeaters, could you clarify that they actually DO work, and do you think it would boost my signal to say, 3 or 4 bars? Any particular brand better than other?

I have no choice of a landline and cant see the point of the "suresignal" idea as you may aswell just use the Wi-Fi instead.

If you wanna email, my address is: rsboxxer2001(at)hotmail.com

By MikeyB123 on 23 Feb 2012

ofcom regulations

explained nice & easy http://www.cel-fi.co.uk/blog/many-boosters-provide
rs-claim-that-there%E2%80%99s-a-loophole-in-the-of
com-policy/

By sk00007 on 26 Mar 2012

http://www.cel-fi.co.uk/blog/many-boosters-provide
rs-claim-that-there's-a-loophole-in-the-ofcom-poli
cy/

By sk00007 on 26 Mar 2012

try one of these

I had such an issue with phone reception until I got a booster from www.antennasonline.co.uk or www.mobilesignal.co.uk

By stardak on 27 Mar 2012

Phone Booster

I would love to talk to tommyd about a phone booster.I live in Ireland.

By oreilo on 12 Apr 2012

Please explain discrepancy

Hi Paul. Came across this discussion whilst researching signal boosters. Just discovered something interesting.... As I know you are VERY anti these boosters I am intrigued as to why, at the top of their homepage, www.mobilesignal.co.uk are displaying a 'PCPRO excellence award 2011'

By caspastoret on 24 Aug 2012

Nobody has said anything anti signal booster

The fact is that using them is illegal. None of the arguments or wishful thinking put forward here alter that simple fact.

By vjosullivan on 14 Oct 2012

Cheap Chinese boosters

I bought my signal booster from www.stelladoradus.co.uk
They actually manufacture these repeaters in Ireland and have patented software on their products that protect the operators network. Apparently, the Chinese brands don't bother with this and it is these repeaters causing all the problems.

By hubbrowne on 4 Dec 2012

Note from Booster Manufacturer: StellaDoradus

I'm an engineer working here at StellaDoradus. We design and manufacture high grade repeaters for the European market. All our repeaters are designed with software that protects the operators network. One year ago, the Irish regulator, Comreg, called around to our premises and effectively told us our repeaters were to "noisy". Since then, we have redesigned all our repeaters to operate "intelligently". We have introduced software and circuitry that does the following.
1) Sleep Mode. This means that the repeater is effectively switched off when no call in in process.(ie, most of the time)
2) Oscillation/ Gain power adjust. If the repeater is installed in an
area where the is already a high signal level (like close to the base station), The power output from the repeater might be too high and cause interference on the network. In these circumstances, our repeaters automatically reduce the power to an acceptable level to ensure no interference occurs.

The imported Chinese models don't bother with all this protection. Their repeaters are stripped down, low cost and low quality, and often cause noise issues on the operators network as a result. It's not Chinese manufacturers problem, but it is a problem for the end user, if caught.
So, yes, these high grade "intelligent" are more expensive as a result, but legally the operators network must be protected.

It must be noted here, that there is a genuine problem with regards to indoor mobile reception. The operators know this and would prefer innovation in the area as opposed to clamping down with a hard hand.
Please visit www.stelladoradus.com for further information about our products and how they have addressed this issue.

By Stelladoradus on 4 Dec 2012

if this is illegal how many people have been successfully prosecuted-im getting seriously miffed by all networks signal in this house none of them give me full signal sometimes none-its driving me mad

By gabbyevs on 11 Dec 2012

no reception

Perhaps you live or work in a location where there isn’t the faintest signal from any of the mobile networks: such places do exist, especially in remote coastal valleys. Changing networks wouldn’t make a jot of difference there, so what do you do in a situation like that?

Hi Paul,

I live in a place like this even the sat nav stops, we all have smart phones by the network 3 and can't use them unless we walk half way up the lane towards the main road, we would like a booster so we can receive signal and use our phones pads ect. How can we go about this ? I thought maybe we can phone 3 and ask them to install something ?

By rosemary1970 on 2 Jan 2013

Low to No Reception LEGAL boosting

Having recently moved my business to a premises, I found my 3 phone didnt work inside the property.

Contacting 3 they have talked to me about this and have sent me a special unit which is in essence a repeater. They have also provided me with instructions on its use and installation and I can now use my 3G phone inside with no problem.

Therefore I would recommend contacting the company you are with and they will more than likely send you a similar unit for use in your own property along with a license for its use. Free of charge as well, they dont like losing customers.

By Pcdatalincs on 19 Jan 2013

Mobile Signal boosters

Boost your weak or dropped calls with a mobile phone Signal booster with a phone signal booster from www.mobilephonesignalbooster.com

By stary12 on 28 Feb 2013

Mobilesignal.co.uk response

To read our response to this article please go here:

http://www.mobilesignal.co.uk/pcpro/

By Laurence on 4 Jun 2013

Prosecutions

Can't find any prosecutions but plenty of confiscations.

By soreknee on 6 Aug 2013

TuGo App Solution for O2 Smartphones

Having just moved to a mobile blackspot I was pleased to find O2 have set up a VOIP service called TuGo which routes calls and texts to and from your usual mobile number on the same terms as your pay monthly contract using their free TuGo app. It's available for iPhone, Android and Windows handsets and works well.
http://www.o2.co.uk/tugo/want-it

By craine on 17 Jan 2014

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Paul Ockenden

Paul Ockenden

Paul is a contributing editor to PC Pro specialising in smartphones, mobile broadband and all things wireless. He's technical director of a combined IT and marketing company, which works on websites and intranets for several blue-chip clients.

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