It is a delight to venture into the mountains far from ‘civilisation’; when we do however we don’t have to forego the opportunity of all contact. A carefully chosen antenna system will draw in mobile phone and internet connectivity to quite surprisingly remote places.
Note: You need less signal to send an SMS than a voice call: This may get a message out when other means will not. See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/emergency-dial-112/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/emergency-cb-radios/
We have two antennae conjoined (with a balanced splitter/joiner) 6.5 Db fibreglass antennae such as these (https://telcoantennas.com.au/site/rfi-cdq2195-quick-removable-65dbi-bullbar-antenna) Joining two together like this increases the gain by about 3 Db (so to approx 9.5 Db). You should remember that each 3Db equals approximately a doubling of the signal, so that this arrangements represents an over eightfold increase in signal strength. We chose these antennae as they are the highest which will allow the vehicle into the garage without damaging them – else we would have chosen two 7.5 Db = 10.5 Db total. However, we CAN stow two 9 Db antennae (like these: (https://telcoantennas.com.au/site/rfi-cdq2199-quick-removable-9dbi-bullbar-antenna) under the tray, giving us 12 Db when we attach them (or four doublings ie sixteen times the signal strength!)
It is important the antennae are connected to the splitter thence to the phone with the shortest possible and best co-axial cable. Antennae usually come with 5 metres of RG58U cable which loses .79 Db per metre, a total of 3.95 Db. If you can shorten this to 2.5 metres (you can!) of 1250 coax with a loss of .0675 Db/metre, you can reduce this loss to .16875 Db, or an effective gain of 3.78 Db (more than a doubling of the signal strength which you are likely losing right now!). (See https://telcoantennas.com.au/site/guide-antenna-cables-connectors
& http://www.comnet.com.au/epages/shop.sf/en_AU/?ObjectPath=/Shops/comnet/Categories/Cables/Cables_with_connectors/1250_Ultra_Low_Loss_Antenna_Cables) Cable is very important: you can easily lose 1/2 or 3/4 of your signal!
A patch lead which connects physically to your phone through one of the small connectors on the back (of all Samsung phones anyway if you take the cover off) will mean that you get ALL of this signal. It IS difficult to plug in though, easily broken and CAN damage the phone. Instead, for a loss of only .6Db you can connect with one of these passive pads (http://www.comnet.com.au/epages/shop.sf/en_AU/?ObjectPath=/Shops/comnet/Products/CK589-AMD) which will hold any phone securely. There is a model which powers/charges the phone as you go along too. I am informed that this is a better, more expensive cradle: http://www.bury.com/cms/us/products/kategorie/add-on-units-s-9-2/produkt/bury-activecradle-universal-new-3.html
If you need even more gain, you can purchase a 16 Db ‘Yagi’ antennae (like a television antenna https://telcoantennas.com.au/site/rfi-16dbi-yagi-directional-antenna#) which you can mount on a telescopic pole. This would be a good antenna to use at home if you are in a very poor reception area. If you get the antenna say 3 metres above ground you will effectively get another 3 Db, so approx 19 Db of gain (ie over 6 doublings – or 64 TIIMES the original signal strength!) Of course you can only use the Yagi setup when you are stationery; it will also take a while to FIND the signal if there IS one. There IS a signal strength metre on your phone – apart from the signal strength display on the front. (https://telcoantennas.com.au/site/phone-engineering-menu) It would be a great option though if you were camping in a very fringe area. Obviously continuing to get your mobile services (phone/internet) in fringe areas is much cheaper than accessing the same via a satellite phone – though I would recommend that anyone traveling in remote areas purchase one – or at least a satellite messenger.
NB: Telco have updated their outdoors antennae choices as the introduction of new phone technology dictates. See: https://www.telcoantennas.com.au/antennas/home-office/outdoor/
It is HIGHLY illegal to use an electronic booster (without a licence) – there is a huge fine for so doing – but a booster won’t get you more gain than this by itself – though it would if you boosted through the array. A booster will knock everyone else off the Network though, and may even lead to someone’s death in an emergency situation – why it IS highly illegal. You CAN buy one here, if you dare (http://www.quantel.co.nz/). If used ONLY in an emergency situation, it may be justified, but a satellite phone would be a better insurance policy – but see below.
At home you CAN get a booster licence (we have one) if you are in a poor signal area https://telcoantennas.com.au/site/catalog/home-office/repeater-kits This has been a real boon to us, but obviously only works inside the house.
Update: As of 1 May Telstra are offering fixed and mobile boosters (for vehicles, caravans etc) which are legal: https://exchange.telstra.com.au/new-telstra-go-repeaters-bring-mobile-coverage-to-more-places/ These also operate on their new 4GX system. (of course they are now rolling out 5g!)
You might also find this post interesting: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/mobile-phones-apps-for-bushwalking/
Some Other Hunting Related Posts (there are many more):