Wi-Fi calling enables you to make calls wherever there is good Wi-Fi regardless of the cellular signal
There are numerous causes for poor signal strength. It could be a problem with the carrier, or it could be that materials in the walls of your home are blocking the signal. Regardless of the cause, there is a way to boost your cell phone's signal to get the most possible at home.
Although many carriers sell inexpensive or even free devices that can extend signal simply by plugging them in, Wi-Fi calling is better because it enables you to make calls regardless of the strength of the cell signal as long as the Wi-Fi strength is good.
Wi-Fi calling has become more and more available over the past several years. Anyone with an iPhone 5c or a newer model can use the feature, as can many Android users.
The Wi-Fi calling feature allows you to make calls and send text messages using a Wi-Fi network. Given that more and more modern homes have Wi-Fi, most consumers will be able to use their own wireless router rather than purchasing a new device.
The way it works is simple. Any time your phone has a weak signal and is also connected to Wi-Fi, if the Wi-Fi feature is enabled the phone will connect to the Wi-Fi network and use it for calls and text messages. Upon leaving the Wi-Fi network, the phone will make calls and send messages on the cellular network again. The transition is automatic, so users do not need to do anything after enabling the feature, nor is a special app required.
Follow these steps to enable Wi-Fi calling on an iPhone:
- Click Settings
- Choose Phone
- Swipe Wi-Fi Calling
To enable the feature on an Android phone, follow these steps:
- Click Settings
- Choose Wireless and Networks
- Choose More
- Choose Wi-Fi Calling
Note that manufacturers can customize phones running the Android OS, so it is possible that your phone has this feature in a different place or under a different name. Your carrier should be able to provide instructions.
Many carriers support Wi-Fi calling. The carriers in the U.S. that support the feature include AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, MetroPCS, and Vodafone.
Signal Boosters and Repeaters
There are other options for consumers who would rather not connect their phone to their Wi-Fi network. One of these is a "signal booster" device that the carrier can provide. These devices repeat and boost cell signals that are already present in the home. For instance, if you receive only one bar of signal in your home, a signal booster device can turn that single bar and turn it into multiple bars.
Prices for the devices vary. Some carriers may offer them for free or for low price, particularly in areas where they know their coverage is poor. T-Mobile now provides them for a deposit of $25, which you receive back by returning the device when you no longer need it.
Users interested in this option should contact their carrier or check their website to find out which devices are offered and for how much. Note that these devices work only with one carrier's network; if a friend visits and has a different carrier from yours, their signal will not be boosted.
A femtocell, also known as a microcell, is defined by How-To Geek as "a small, low-power cellular base station that connects to the cellular network via your broadband Internet connection." It is basically a small cell tower that will provide signal in and close to your home. It uses your home Internet connection to connect to the larger cell network. This is an excellent option when you have no signal at all that can be boosted. Note, however, that your download speed has to be high enough for the device to use. A good broadband connection should work, though different carriers have different download requirements.
As with booster devices, users should check with their carrier to find out which devices are offered for which prices, and some carriers may offer them for less if they have poor coverage in your area. They can also be purchased online at Amazon or at nearly any tech store.
The Best Solution
If your phone has the Wi-Fi calling feature, using it will be the best solution for boosting cell signal in your home. However, microcells have the benefit of providing signal to older devices and others that cannot use Wi-Fi.