Anyone using a network extender?

JTK

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13,432
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Buffalo, NY
To boost their cell service at home? We live in a valley, making cell service pretty much non-existent in the house. Given we do have a verizon wireless plan, I'd love to dump my 'bundled' land-line and utilize the cell plan better. I've done some research on this topic and it seems there's two types. A signal repeater system and a network extender that somehow uses your high speed internet service to do it's magic. Any input on this would be great! Thanks.
 
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17,241
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Upper Midwest
We had a Sprint Airave unit which I know isn't exactly the same. They since came by and put in a new cell tower and we no longer need it. Are you looking at something like one of the Wilson units? A guy at work had one of those in his large home, in order to get a good signal in his basement. It worked for him but isn't cheap.
 
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Houston, TX
I have experience with the network extenders for both AT&T and Verizon. They do, as you indicated, use your high speed Internet connection and need a line of sight for the GPS antenna to provide 3G voice service. They basically have the phone make a VOIP call over your Internet connection. The extenders do nothing for the data side--only voice. PS...I am referring to the extenders provided by AT&T or Verizon and not third party. I hope this helps!
 

JTK

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Buffalo, NY
The only ones I've glanced at online are the ones built by Samsung, for verizon wireless. As long as it's something that will provide a good signal through most of the house, we'd be happy. All I know is the repeater style are a totally different animal than the interweb based ones. On the repeater system, you have to mount an exterior antenna. That still wouldn't work at my house. You can be on the roof and barely get 1 bar cell service. One of my questions with the network extenders is, is the call quality good, or are their delays like a sketchy VoIP call?
 
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Upper Midwest
Well sorry, I misread your question then. The Sprint Airave unit is exactly like the one from Verizon, Sprint's is made by Samsung too. It is a type of femtocell and essentially is a small cell phone tower for your home. Like you mentioned it "transmits" over your existing broadband connection. Ours worked great. No lags, no echos, no nothing. The first-gen unit we had only gave EVDO speeds for the phone's data connection but the second one was 3G. Not really important if your phone utilizes your existing wifi though. Ours would give a stuttering dial tone (normal) when it was routing your call. It was supposed to auto hand-off your call when you moved away from its range, but we found it mostly dropped the call instead. Again not a big deal usually. The range was pretty good. I think they say it is sufficient for a 5000 sq.ft. house which I think is accurate. On Sprint you can manage some aspects of the unit online, like whether it is open to anyone with Sprint service (for your guests) or if you want to create a whitelist.
Originally Posted By: JTK
The only ones I've glanced at online are the ones built by Samsung, for verizon wireless. As long as it's something that will provide a good signal through most of the house, we'd be happy. All I know is the repeater style are a totally different animal than the interweb based ones. On the repeater system, you have to mount an exterior antenna. That still wouldn't work at my house. You can be on the roof and barely get 1 bar cell service. One of my questions with the network extenders is, is the call quality good, or are their delays like a sketchy VoIP call?
 
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NYC
What carrier are you on? AT&T's Microcell will give you 3G data speeds Verizon's Network Extender does the same As does Sprint's, and T-Mobile's does HSDPA+ 4G. You can get them for free, get the retentions dept on the phone, throw the c word around, if you've got a line out of contract, it makes it even easier, they'll usually UPS 2 day you one if coverage isn't good. I've done it on Sprint and Verizon. Its easy enough. You've got a decent internet connection, correct?
 
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SF Bay Area, CA
Friend of mine has an AT&T Microcell; I realize that you're on Verizon. But she learned it works way better if it's located several feet away from her wireless router; so just FYI if you try one tied to your internet. Kevin
 

JTK

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Buffalo, NY
Michael, I've got Verizon wireless. Funny thing is, I've been going month to month with my dinosaur phone for a year. My wife has an an iphone 4. I'll try what you suggested!
 
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Houston, TX
Originally Posted By: JTK
One of my questions with the network extenders is, is the call quality good, or are their delays like a sketchy VoIP call?
This can depend on your Internet connection. If you have a good stable connection with adequate up and down speed, then it will work with no issues. I have tested both during a mobility RFQ process for our company. We have foil radiant barrier that blocks signal in the house, but with a 3/15MBS connection they worked like a dream. Both AT&T and Verizon have recently installed new towers in my area so I no longer need one.
 

JTK

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Buffalo, NY
Originally Posted By: michaelluscher
You can get them for free, get the retentions dept on the phone, throw the c word around, if you've got a line out of contract, it makes it even easier, they'll usually UPS 2 day you one if coverage isn't good. I've done it on Sprint and Verizon. Its easy enough. You've got a decent internet connection, correct?
Guys, thanks for the info and extra thanks to Michael! Verizon Wireless is going to send me a network extender no charge! Kind of an intensive process however. My quest started online with verizon wireless, which eventually lead to a 1-800#. From there I was shuffled around a bit, ultimately landing in Tech Support's lap. LOTS of question and answer. Searching my area for towers, topography, other related complaints, etc... Testing my internet speed and quality. Of course they are out of stock on network extenders, but are sending one my way once they get'em in. Verizon wireless is pretty amazing on the phone though. Checking in on you when you're on hold, super friendly, clear and totally English speaking. Good stuff.
 
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Northeast
Wow, I'm happy to hear Verizon really hooked you up! A few summers ago I was in the market for a network extender for my parents vacation home, and at the time the network extenders were a hot commodity, sold out everywhere and a waiting list to even have one shipped to you. Best I was able to get from verizon was a discount down to $150, though I didn't really push them that hard. I wonder if they're harder to get in the summer since the foliage on the trees has a tendency to reduce cell phone signals a bit? Just the geek in me thinking out loud. Just a heads up, the GPS antenna on the network extender is removable and includes a cable in case you need to move it away from the unit itself. The GPS antenna will need to be located near a window if possible in order to acquire and maintain a signal. I also want to add that having this device should also greatly improve your phones battery life if you don't get good service at home. The harder your phone has to look for an maintain a signal, the more battery power it uses.
 
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