Living Off Grid - Remote Cell Service


When Laurie and I first bought this property it was for recreational purposes. We weren’t too worried about phone service when we were camping but when we decided to make it our home we knew phones would be an issue. Not only do we run our business out of our home but safety services are a factor as well – fire, ambulance, and sheriff.

We knew there was a very weak signal within ¼ mile because the prior property owners would drive down the road to make calls on a cell phone. That’s fine for emergencies but we needed something better.

We live 3 miles from the nearest paved road. There are no services of any kind in this area. TV and computer are by satellite. None of the Skype (phone by computer) type services were offered in our area. That’s right, just because you have Internet service does not mean you can use it for telephone service. That was the first thing my research turned up.

Next I looked at a radio signal phone service I had read about in the Backwoods Solar handbook/catalogue. I called them to see if they knew the person they had mentioned in the book. I was given a website address but it was an old one apparently. I spoke with a Verizon Engineer who knew what I was talking about. It is a line of sight radio wave apparatus. You would have to put a pole up in the highway right of way and you would have to be able to see that pole from the house. Verizon would connect to it. It would send a radio signal to your house to a receiver that apparently you could talk into. The engineer also told me they were usually used for emergency phone services by the government. I could never locate the equipment or anyone who had done it before and finally eliminated this item as an option. Added to that I didn’t really want to go through the legal process of getting permission to put a pole in the right of way.

I found several websites that claimed to have the equipment to get you a cell signal in remote locations but after speaking with them about my actual circumstances they all admitted their products would not work.

In that research process I finally came up with the term cell phone amplifiers or cell phone signal boosters. I also learned – you can’t boost or amplify a signal that isn’t there. One thing led to another and I finally contacted a company in Utah called Wilson Electronics. Oddly enough the person that answered the phone used to manage a Radio Shack 15 miles from here and knowing the general cell service areas etc made a big difference because their biggest concerns are people who want to “pull a signal out of thin air” and that simply isn’t possible. Because this person knew our area he was hopeful we “might” get a signal.

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