Westlake Village (CA) – Can you hear me now? Most of the time, most likely. But dropped cellphone calls and insufficient signal reception in certain areas are still a reality we are used to live with. For those cases when a weak signal is just not enough, there is now a company that promises a “personal cell phone tower” to enable cellphone calls in areas with little or no carrier coverage.
SignalWide, based in Newbury Park, Calif., said it will soon be offering a variety of signal booster units that are designed either for individual users, workgroups or complete offices or departments. Different models called the ClickitBase, DriveBase and WorkBase can handle from one to 68 users and both cellular and EVDO signals can be boosted by as much as 70 dB. The single-user devices are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, while multi-user models are about the size of a Wi-Fi router.
The SignalWide system includes a base station, an external antenna and either a 12-volt DC or AC power adapter. Outgoing phone signals hit the SignalWide antenna and then are retransmitted out of a building. The opposite happens for incoming signals. In the one-user version called the ClickitBase, the phone must be physically connected to the unit with a small cable that hooks into the external antenna port of your phone. According to Baron Miller, co-founder of SignalWide, this is the “toughest part” of the whole system as every phone comes with a proprietary connector. The multiple user models are wireless.
SignalWide’s website says that the one-user ClickitBase has 30 dB of amplification, while the 60-user model offers 70 dB. Miller did not provide exact specifics on how much call quality and signal reception will get when a signal booster is used, but mentioned: “If you are dropping calls now, you should be able to get calls with the unit.” In addition to getting a better signal, Miller claims that the phone will use less power and emit less radiation because the signal now only needs to reach the SignalWide unit instead and not a cellular phone tower. Modern phones actually ramp up antenna power as the signal gets weaker.
Miller said that SignalWide worked with Motorola to develop the technology and is actually licensing some of the firm’s patents.
In addition to personal uses, he told us that companies could install these for community safety reasons. “Shopping malls could install these in their underground lots that usually don’t get great cell phone coverage,” says Miller.
Miller expects all units to be available in April for prices that range from $229 for the one-user version to $999 for the 68 user model.