How can I improve the cell signal in my basement?
This question comes up a lot. A surprising number of people either have an office, workshop or other work space in a basement, or live in a basement-level apartment.
Getting reliable cell signal in these spaces is typically problematic because a basement is below ground level (duh). If you view our blog occasionally you’ve probably read one of the posts where we remind readers that mobile phone signal operates on a line-of-sight basis.
If you happen to be below ground level in a basement, then obviously there’s no clear line-of-sight to the cell tower signal source your phone is trying to connect with.
And that, in a nutshell, is why it’s normally so tough to get good cell reception in a basement. Fortunately there are some tips below you can try for free that may improve your below-ground-level cell signal. Also there are proven technologies that, for a price, absolutely can solve the basement-cell-reception problem.
The first thing to do is check with your cell carrier and explain your situation. They may not be willing to help, but they also may suggest possible solutions.
If there are general reception issues in the area where you live or work in the basement, your carrier will probably be more willing to help you than if there’s perfect cell signal outside the building that doesn’t penetrate into your basement space. If that’s the case, you’re probably on your own.
Tip 1: Keep your phone charged up. A low battery can negatively impact your phone’s ability to get and hang onto a signal.
Tip 2: If there’s a case on your phone, take it off and test to see if your reception is better without it. Sometimes a case partially blocks cell signals from reaching your phone’s internal antenna.
Next steps to try
If your cell reception still needs help, try using your phone in different areas of your basement space like by a window. You may find a special sweet spot where your reception is better. You can make a quick signal map of your basement space so you know where signal is best (and worst). To see more on how to make a signal map, check out this post: how-to-boost-cell-phone-reception-in-your-apartment.
Another possible solution is Wifi calling. All newer smartphones and all U.S. cell carriers allow native Wifi calling and texting. And of course there are a bunch of messaging apps available that support audio and video calling. So if you have solid Wifi coverage in your basement space, Wifi calling may be a perfectly good substitute for the cellular network. For more information, see our previous post All you need to know about Wifi calling.
Signal boosting solutions
Devices that can provide amplified cell signal in your basement space fall into two basic types: microcells (sometimes called femtocells) and cell signal boosters. While both can produce a solid cell signal in your basement space, they work differently. This might be important to you because how these devices work may help you choose the one that’s the best solution for your specific situation.
Microcells function almost like a tiny cell tower. They create a localized cell signal in your basement. But they require a broadband Internet connection in order to operate. They also work only for your specific carrier, so anyone with mobile service on a different carrier can’t benefit. In addition, your phone must be synched to the microcell device. Any unsynched phone can’t use the microcell’s signal. To learn more about microcells, go here Does a Microcell Work to Boost Cell Phone Signal?
A cell phone signal booster, sometimes called a cell repeater or a cell signal amplifier, works by collecting cell signals from the tower with an antenna (tower antenna). Those signals are passed along coax cable to a booster unit which amplifies them and distributes them (via another antenna) through your basement space so your phone can connect. The process is completed in reverse order to send signals from your phone back to the cell tower.
If you can go outside your building and use your phone without any problem, then a signal booster will probably work well for your basement space. The trade off is that, in most cases, you will need to mount an antenna on the exterior of your building to collect the available cell signals outside and bring them into the basement.
- Keep your phone charged. A low battery can make it hard to get and keep a signal.
- If there’s a case on your phone, take it off and test to see if your reception is better without it.
- Try using your phone in different areas of the basement space, like by a window. You may find a sweet spot where reception is better.
- Give Wifi calling a try. If you have solid Wifi in the basement, it may be a perfectly good substitute for mobile phone use.
- Get a microcell that uses your broadband connection to create a cell signal. Or, if that’s not appropriate for your situation:
- Get a cell signal booster to collect and amplify existing signals available outside your building.
Need a cell signal boost in your basement? Click below to see cell phone signal boosters that can provide strong cell reception.