One of the most common overlooked negatives of living in a condo is the possibility of having a weak cell phone reception signal. The reason that I call it a “negative” is because unlike houses condos are known to have thick concrete walls which can at times prevent your cellular phone from operating properly inside. This can include users experiencing dropped calls, poor signal reception or dead zones. If cell phone reception is a priority to you, I would strongly suggest taking your cell phone with you when viewing condos for sale. By doing so you can make sure that the condo you are planning to purchase can provide adequate cell phone coverage.
I was experiencing cell phone connection issues in my own Square One condo (Skymark West) so, I decided to dig a little deeper, and try to locate the source of the problem and find a reasonable solution. What I found out is as follows: cell phone reception is dependent upon the distance and projectile signal path to the nearest cell towers, carrier and plan, carrier load, weather conditions and finally the phone model itself.
Square One Cell Phone Tower Location
Having a direct unobstructed projectile signal path from your condo to the nearest cell phone tower should be your number one priority. Since I was using an iPhone 4s on the Fido / Rogers GSM network, I decide to download an app from Apple called “FindTower”. Within minutes I pulled up all the nearby cell phone signal towers pointing to downtown Mississauga (see Figure 1). Using this data, I knew that I had to find a way to amplify the signal from the nearest tower into my condo. Below I will discuss the device that I decided to test.
The Z-Boost complete system goes on eBay for around $300, and is based on the principle of taking an already existing strong signal near a window or on a condo balcony and amplifying that signal inside the condo. I have owned this piece of equipment for several years now and used it in my previous house that I lived in. At the time, I found it to be very helpful since it took the lousy 1-2 signal bar that I received in my Mississauga basement, and amplified it to a full 5 bar solid reception. However, once I moved into my Mississauga condo I found that the device did not work as well as it did in the house. I, later on, found out that the external antenna and base of the system required a minimal 25 feet of separation between the two for a successful amplification of the signal. I soon realized that I could not achieve this kind of distance in my condo, thus I had to look for another solution.
A good colleague of mine, Todd Lee, suggested I explore Bluetooth options in order to improve my cell phone signal. After doing some online research, and hearing good things about the product, I decided to try the Panasonic KXTG773B with the link-to-cell feature. This home phone which sells for roughly $100 at future shop, works by linking your cell phone to your home phone via Bluetooth. Meaning, if you set it up, you can have your cell phone near a window where you have a good connection transmit the phone call to your home phone which you can use anywhere in the condo. However, unfortunately, this product did not work for my problem as I expected. The sound quality was choppy and people could not hear me well. I believe that in order for this setup to work, it required a near perfect signal for the iPhone, which was located on the window ledge. Unfortunately, the best signal I could achieve in my condo was only about 60-70%.
At this point, I thought I was out of options until something unexpected occurred. Last week, a good friend of mine came by my condo, and while he was here he made a few phone calls from his cell phone. Unlike myself, he experienced no signal problems whatsoever. I was amazed. It then occurred to me that he was using a very simple non-smart phone and he was on the Public Mobile network (a much smaller provider than Fido). I decided to do some research further online and for reasons unknown to me; I soon came to a conclusion that simple basic phones generally outperform complex smartphones when it comes to signal strength.
My solution is to forward all phone calls from my iPhone to a basic cell phone by Public Mobile while I am in my condo. I also found Public Mobile plans to be very cheap ($19 a month for unlimited talking) and the phones are very simple to use. On the downside, I now have to pay for two cell phones and remember to carry them around with me everywhere I go.
For those looking for an even simpler solution, I would recommend forwarding all your cell phone calls to your home phone while you are at home. The only thing is you always have to remember to turn “call forward” on and off, while you leave or arrive at your condo.
Have you been experiencing cell signal issues inside your Mississauga condo? If you have any different suggestions how to improve reception in condos? Please share below.
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