14 Replies Latest reply: Feb 24, 2013 1:11 PM by janetgoree RSS

    Improving signal strength and/or data speed?


      I have a Galaxy SII.  At home it works fine, as it does when I'm in the city or on a major highway.


      But, I travel in an RV and often am NOT in a city or on a major highway.  Which means I'm frequently plagued by low signal strength (or none), and very slow data operations.  Browsing to look up something when I have a "g" or "e" for connection type can be a great exercise in frustration.  For example, locally, I can have 3-4 bars and a 4G network and a mile down the road or in a campground I may have 1 bar and a "g" connection.


      SO, is there any DIY or reasonable-cost (read that as low) way of boosting the strength when I have a very low signal (0-1 bars) and increasing whatever's needed to increase the data rate?  Am I correct that these two things are one-in-the same, or are they somehow different? 

        • 1. Re: Improving signal strength and/or data speed?

          This is the fault of the carriers. No one wants to take a chance on putting towers up in rual areas.  Which I don't quite understand because that would mean potentially more customers.  Nevertheless the FCC is pushing a lottery campaign to get more towers up in rual areas worth a cool 300 mil.  http://www.engadget.com/2012/05/03/fcc-mobility-fund/

          • 2. Re: Improving signal strength and/or data speed?

            I don't actually blame the carriers much...  It's a return-on-investment thing.  If it costs a million dollars for a tower and you get a million customers, that's pretty good.  If it costs a half million for one in Old McDonalds south forty and you get TEN customers, that's not so good...


            Which is why, when you look at the coverage maps, the entire area of the west that I go to as a photographer has NO coverage......  BUT, I"m not looking at those areas.  I'm looking at areas where I may be a mile from a decent signal, and MAY still get a bar and MAYBE a "g" or "e"...  SO, I"m looking for a way to boost things enough to get a decent signal for calls AND data...


            Anybody?  Ideas?

            • 3. Re: Improving signal strength and/or data speed?

              I'm not sure if this will work for an RV, but TMO was offering people who had poor coverage at their house (1 bar), a signal booster - http://www.tmonews.com/2011/08/t-mobile-to-launch-signal-booster-program-on-september-7th/

              • 4. Re: Improving signal strength and/or data speed?

                UNFORTUNATELY, I did something stupid.  I told the "tech support" person the truth......  That I need the better signal when traveling in the RV.  At which point she outlined all the reasons why T-mobile DOES NOT MAKE THIS AVAILABLE FOR ANY BUT STATIONARY HOME, GROUND FLOOR AND ABOVE.  To quote her "It won't work in an RV."  Which is clearly utter bovine feces, but it was the hook on which she was hanging the refusal. 


                S'too bad, 'cause I THINK it might have worked at least part of the time, which would have gone some ways toward calming my wife, who passionately despises T-Mobile because of the "misinformation" that accompanied the most recent handset upgrade, and wants to move elsewhere at the earliest opportunity.


                Oh, well, back to the drawing board, looking for a different solution.

                • 5. Re: Improving signal strength and/or data speed?

                  Hello dkperez,


                  I'm very sorry that we could not set you up with a signal booster Our signal booster will only repeat the signal that is already there throughout your home. Ex: A user has 0 bars of signal in their kitchen but gets 2 bars of signal when standing next to their living room window. If the user had one of our Cel-Fi devices hooked up at the living room window, the signal there would be repeated to the kitchen giving the user 2 bars of signal in a place where they previously had none. While there are many reasons we only offer the Cel-Fi devices stationary single family homes, the most important reason is for 911 calls. When making a call to 911 on the Cel-Fi device, the operator can not tell where you are automatically. When we loan a Cel-Fi to a user we have them agree to a 911 disclaimer telling them to be prepared to provide your location information. The problem is that any T-Mobile cell phone can connect to a Cel-Fi and if someone is near you and connected to your device and has to call 911, they do not know that the operator cannot locate them.


                  Another reason that a Cel-Fi device would not work in your RV is that you are traveling in areas where we have no 3G. The Cel-Fi device will not work in a 2g area unfortunately, it will only work in 3G/4G areas.


                  I hope that you are able to find a solution to your signal issue while traveling Dk. We do take coverage requests very seriously and would love to hear where you need the coverage the most. Please sign up here it helps us to know where we need to improve.

                  • 6. Re: Improving signal strength and/or data speed?

                    Actually, after the amount of "misinformation" (is that more politically correct than "outright lying") done during my most recent handset "upgrade", I pretty much expect little from T-Mobile.  I'm stuck for the next 20 months, but given that my SII DOESN'T do what I was ABSOLUTELY, UNEQUIVOCALLY GUARANTEED IT WOULD DO, I'll definitely be remembering when the contract ends.


                    And if I forget, I can assure y'all that my wife, who has to stay in touch with her office and often can't because of the poor data speed, will remember.


                    SO, still hoping for a useful answer from SOMEBODY on HOW TO GET THIS )(*&$#@ PHONE TO SIGNFICANTLY IMPROVE DATA SPEED WHEN IN A MARGINAL AREA...  Ideas?

                    • 7. Re: Improving signal strength and/or data speed?

                      In all honesty it's not the phone that's performing badly it's the network coverage that's your real problem.  Point in case being, do you have the same poor performance when you're in good coverage areas?  This could potentially be a problem with any and every network carrier if you're setting up shop on the outskirts of their coverage area.  There is no real easy solution to your problem.  Maybe a general how to improve cell phone reception on Youtube may help?

                      • 8. Re: Improving signal strength and/or data speed?

                        Yes, as my ORIGINAL post indicated, I'm aware that I'm at the "fringe" of the coverage area.  Which is why I"m asking how to get a stronger signal while at the fringes...  Will an external antenna work?  If so, which one?  Do I need an amplifier or something?  And so on... 

                        • 9. Re: Improving signal strength and/or data speed?

                          You poor fellow.  You're mostly in the same boat as me with the exact same phone too!  The only difference (and more annoyingly so) is that i'm in north dallas,  right smack in the middle of a huge metropolitan city. So there's great coverage all around me.  BUT!,  at home I drop down to 2, 1 and sometimes no bars for a second and the data becomes incredibly slow.  It even shows as such on their coverage map.  I get dark green all round (max coverage)  but for some reason about 2 block in radius around me drop down to light green (2 levels lower almost yellow) with me right in the center of it.  I asked tmobile if they would give me the cel-fi box but so far they don't want to as i'm in a townhouse which they incorrectly consider an apartment.


                          Anyway,  I have picked up a few small tricks to maximize my weak signal's speed (lol or lack there-of).  Open settings and go to applications.  Then click the 'running' tab.  Make sure you close facebook, maps, weather apps, etc.  They might pop back open,  if they do go to downloaded tab in applications and force close them.  When you finally get all of these apps to close you might get signifgantly better speed out of your poor signal at least. 


                          I feel you pain brother,  I really do. 

                          • 10. Re: Improving signal strength and/or data speed?

                            Unfortunately, shutting everything down doesn't do much for me...


                            What HAS helped is putting a Top Signal 55 mobile booster kit in the trailer.  The outside antenna is on a telescoping pole with a ground plane at the top, and inside is the wall antenna.  With this system I had a good phone signal while in the middle of the north shore of MN at a state park where nobody else (Verizon excepted) had a signal.  It worked fine for voice calls.  I could get to forums, too.  What I COULDN'T do was get to actual web pages, but I couldn't do that right in Duluth either when I had 4 bars and supposedly a 4G signal. 


                            I'm not sure what I need to do to get things working for better data, but I suspect if you have 1 or 2 bars normally, adding a booster like I did will have a large impact.  With luck I'll be able to keep things going until my contract with t-mobile expires and I'll probably have to switch to Verizon 'cause t-mobile just doesn't seem to have the coverage or strength to provide decent data most of the places I/we travel.

                            • 11. Re: Improving signal strength and/or data speed?

                              Odd, I'm in North Austin and the coverage here is great.  I recently gave my SII to the wife as I've upgraded to the S3 but both phones hum along with excellent coverage, download and upload speeds.  I recommend downloading an app like Speedtest.net and checking around your town (city) at various poirts to really determine if it's the phone or the towers in your area.

                              • 12. Re: Improving signal strength and/or data speed?

                                Get an RV booster system if you are going to be in RV a lot and moving. Hoping for the phone company to provide you with the signal you want is loooog time to wait

                                • 13. Re: Improving signal strength and/or data speed?

                                  Yeah, wound up doing that last April...  For a lot of the places we travel, T-mobile signals are very weak or non-existent.  And as far as data, forget it...  So, we installed a booster from Solid Signal and it's BETTER...  It's still a huge problem to get a usable data signal.


                                  My wife, through her work, has one of the Sprint things that creates a wifi area.  It has worked fantastically, providing her with a very fast signal everywhere we've been - although we haven't been out West this year.  Unfortunately, it's a work thing so I can't use it for my stuff...


                                  In any case, I believe I've got another year or so because of replacing my old phone, so I'll be around next summer.  After that we'll probably dump T-mobile 'cause it just doesn't have decent data coverage too many of the places we go.

                                  • 14. Re: Improving signal strength and/or data speed?

                                    I get this yet they still wont let me out of my contract which by the way I did not extend. Typical deceptive business practice of t-mobile, repeatedly assuring me that accepting an unsolicited piece of equipment that was supposed to enable me to use my phone in my home would not extend my contract, they did it anyway! Then I get this:




                                    This is a really strange situation. Looking at the coverage map you shouldn't be able to connect to T-Mobile at all. But it does make sense as to why you have continued your service and recently extended your contract. We would like to meet you half you way and offer to credit half of the early terminations you will incur when canceling your account. Losing you as a customer  is the last thing we want to see happen, but we also do not want you to pay for service, that we are unable to provide to you. We are unable to credit all the fees due to the contract that you did accept. Is this something that you would be interested in?



                                    Thank you,

                                    Krystle C @ T-Force

                                    Remember when I first moved here I could occasionally get a tmobile tower but now tmobile has done away with that and still wont let me out of my contact!