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schmidt1x's profile

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Wed, Mar 9, 2022 6:41 PM

Wifi Calling alternative

I live in a rural area with poor cell coverage and relying on WiFi calling for business. Is there a cell device I can connect directly to the router that broadcasts a cell signal (femto???) to bypass wifi??

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73blazer

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61 Messages

7 m مضت

Yes! It's AT&T's new LTE FemToCell, which they call a "booster". It's not a booster however, it's a true FemToCell. Alot of us had the opportunity to get free ones if you had the old 3g FemToCell (generally people called that the MicroCell).  Right now, the free thing is gone, and they are slated to go on sale in the next few weeks.

If you wait just a few weeks, you should see them for sale. I wouldn't bother talking to a store or calling AT&T, as most reps and stores are not versed and from what I gather, have no idea these LTE FemToCells even exist.

They have a page for it now: https://www.att.com/buy/accessories/specialty-items/att-cell-booster-cool-grey.html?q=booster

It says out of stock but the sale page is brand new, from what I gather there should be some to buy in the next few weeks so just keep checking the page.

(edited)

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OttoPylot

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18.8K Messages

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@schmidt1x Depending on what you use for internet service AT&T's Cell Booster may help. WiFi-C (WiFi Calling) is still preferred but the Cell Booster may be more reliable.

The Cell Booster will go on sale in a couple of weeks for $229. Probably first on AT&T' website and then in the Corporate Stores and then the Reseller Stores.

Please read my Cell Booster Guide, link is in my sig line , to get an idea on how it works, the minimum requirements for your internet connection, the

phone, how to set it up, etc.

Just be aware that rural areas can be difficult, as it was for the MicroCell (AT&T's first femtocell), because of GPS location verification. Again, that's all explained in my Tech Guide.

(edited)

3fingers

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19 Messages

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So I'm reading on this device and trying to confirm that it's a femtocell device and not a cell booster. Here's the issue I've had since moving here 3 years ago:

Our phones (a mix of Android and Iphone) typically show 4 bars of 4G LTE in and around our house. However, voice and data service are horrible. It's mostly the upstream on both (on voice calls the other party constantly can't hear us and texts/mms and data fails sending all the time). For whatever reason Wi-Fi calling never works correctly on our devices, my thoughts are that because the phones "show" a strong signal they don't use the Wi-Fi calling even though it's enabled. The only way to get reliable voice calls and to get texts/mms to send is to put our phones on airplane mode then enable wifi and wifi calling to force them to use wifi calling instead.

So my question is will this device work for my issues? I have a great internet connection so if this will use my internet to give me a reliable, working signal then it will be well worth the investment 

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Will give that a try myself.  I only have one bar where I live so will be an interesting experiment. 

OttoPylot

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@3fingers  If you routinely get 4 bars of LTE in your home, then WiFi-C probably won't work well because your in-home cellular signal is stronger than your WiFi signal. Some phones are better at handling that than others but there is no way to force your phone to pick either signal. The phone will automatically select the stronger signal and lock onto that. If you move around your house/property, the signal can vary, cellular or WiFi, and the phone will attempt to lock onto that signal which will cause dropped calls or call quality issues.

Whichever connection you use, leave WiFi enabled all of the time (not to be confuse with WiFi-C). Your data should use your WiFi connection and voice will be handled by cellular. If you use cellular only, then disable WiFi-C so your phone can only connect to cellular. Enabling Airplane Mode just disables the cellular radio so your phone can only connect to WiFi-C for calls. Toggling back and forth just confuses the phone as to which signal to connect to and will attempt to the last signal it detected.

AT&T's Cell Booster is still a femtocell like the original MicroCell. The name is misleading. AT&T did that for marketing purposes. Most folks have a working knowledge of what a cellular booster is but very few understand what a femtocell is. So, it still uses your internet connection to connect your phone to the AT&T Mobility Servers. The device is LTE only and requires you to have a cellular phone that meets AT&T's post-3G cellular requirements. See my Cell Booster Technical Guide, link is in my sig line, for all you need to know about the Cell Booster. 

I tested the Cell Booster for AT&T for a few months at the beginning of the year and it does work, but there are caveats to that.

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Thanks

1 bar inside and outside.

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@3fingers

I would have to say that the problem is you have enabled Wi-Fi calling and you don't need it.   If you have four bars of Cellular Connection at home,  the 2 signals will fight each other.  It would typically result in poor voice calls, warbling in and out, even disconnected voice calls. 

I would suggest you turn Wi-Fi calling off and leave it off unless you are in a place where you do not have a good Cellular Connection.

OttoPylot

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@schmidt1x  Enable WiFi-C (WiFi Calling) if your phone is capable of that, enable WiFi (which should be on anyway) and see if your reception is any better. WiFi-C is dependent on how well your WiFi connection and internet service is. 

If you are going to use the Cell Booster, which is a femtocell, you will still need a tower close enough for maintenance and location verification. The Cell Booster does not connect to the tower but does use it from time to time as part of your cellular neighborhood. But like WiFi-C, it needs a good internet connection to reach the AT&T Mobility Servers. If you try the Cell Booster, I would disable WiFi-C first, leaving WiFi enabled, and set it up. 

3fingers

Tutor

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19 Messages

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@OttoPylot thanks for the reply, that makes sense. I'm thinking this device would help me out as long as the signal from it is stronger inside my house then the outside cellular signal is which it obviously should be.

Do you happen to know the return policy on it? I would love to purchase it but it would be nice to have the option to return it if I get it and test it and it doesn't help.

3fingers

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@formerlyknownas the problem is even though the cellular signal shows anywhere between 3-4 bars the service doesn't work. If I turn off my phone's Wi-Fi calling then people can never hear me, texts/MMS never send etc. 

OttoPylot

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@3fingers  Disable WiFi-C and keep WiFi enabled. If you really do have have 3-4 bars of cellular LTE you should have no problems with call quality. Of course that can depend on the model of phone as to how well that works. On an iPhone,  you should see the AT&T WiFi alpha tag if you are connected to WiFi-C. Otherwise, your phone will indicate LTE. Not sure how that is displayed on Android phones.

WiFi-C is different than WiFi.

3fingers

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@OttoPylot when you say wifi-c you're referring to wifi calling, right? If I turn wifi calling off texts will rarely send, MMS never sends and phone calls are horrible. Here's a test I just ran to show you how unreliable my service is on 4G LTE with 4 bars:

OttoPylot

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@3fingers  WiFi-C is my shorthand for WiFi Calling. I think I already mentioned that. You need to have WiFi enabled as well because your data will use WiFi and your voice calls will use WiFi-C. Is that your in-home connection? Does it work as expected outside of your home and away from your WiFi?

What model of phone? Does your phone meet AT&T's post-3G cellular requirements. 

I don't know what the return policy is for the Cell Booster a mine was sent to me free. However, I may have already mentioned this but after testing and a few months of use, I shelved it and went back to WiFi-C (WiFi Calling 😉).

Even with WiFi-C enable and working correctly, the incoming cellular signal may be a bit stronger at times so your phone may switch to cellular for a period of time. That's usually not an issue. However, if your example is typical of your in-home reception, a Cell Booster probably won't work well.

3fingers

Tutor

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That screenshot is in my home with WiFi and WiFi-c turned off to show how unreliable the cellular service is. This is how the AT&T service "functions" in my area, anywhere in about a 5-6 square mile it's practically worthless, even with 5 full bars while having line of sight of the closest AT&T tower.

My phone is a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and my wife and daughter both have iPhone 11. The bottom line is with any of these devices we can't reliably call or text over cellular. The iphones never use wifi calling in our house and my Samsung does only some of the time. The only way we ever get reliable service is to turn airplane mode on then turn WiFi and WiFi calling on. If our devices would actually use wifi calling on their own we'd have no issues.

I'm hoping having this device in my house will fix the issue, I guess the only way to tell is to buy it, test it and see.

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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18.8K Messages

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For the iPhone, make sure it is set to LTE if that still is an option. If it's not an option anymore then the phone will just automatically connect to LTE.

If you purchase the Cell Booster, then disable WiFi-C (WiFi Calling) on your phones but leave WiFi enabled. Follow the instructions, which are pretty thin, in the box or just read my Cell Booster Technical Guide for a more detailed explanation. It is important that the Cell Booster be physically connected to your router (yellow WAN port on the Cell Booster to your LAN port on the router) and that you have firmly connected the GPS antenna to the Cell Booster and place the receiver end on a window or window sill with an unobstructed view of the sky.

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