Joe's Corner  

Joe White - Real Estate Broker
Northern California Real Estate
Northwest Sonoma County and Southern Mendocino County
Recreational And Estate Properties
We have been doing this since 1976

June 10 2014


Power can be boosted from less than 1 watt to 3. This will often take you from 1 bar to 3 or 4. For about $550, also can take you from no service to a usable signal. It can be portable or hard wired to your car. Cell phones started out at 5 watts and are now down to less than 1 watt. The signals bend a little and do bounce to some extent. Over the years “can you hear me now” is less of a problem. Not in all areas. Coverage across the United States is very good with Verizon, then there are areas here like the Russian River where AT&T rules.

Now that it has been decided you can take your number with you, changing providers is not a problem. Since I have had my numbers for 28 years it was a consideration when I eliminated my landlines.

I can pickup my regular phones in 8 locations on my 2 AC compound. I am using a cell phone service and the cell lines are Bluetooth capable, with a Dock-N-Talk to my hard line phones.

A yaggie antenna ($150) is a directional antenna, with a meter you can swing it 360 degrees and pick out the strongest signal. A hard wire (SWAG $100) then connects it to a 3 watt ($325) booster which uses 12 volt or 110 for power. The booster will typically take you from 1 bar to 3 to 4. You then lay your cell phone on a small plastic device which acts as a conduit for the boosted signal. If you want to stop there and use the one cell phone you can buy a $20 handset and pick it up and talk like you are on a regular phone. Another alternative is to put the cell phone on speaker mode. Because I need/want /like phones is several spread out locations I have a Dock-N-Talk ($200) to Bluetooth all my hard and portable phones to my 2 phone lines.

Living off the grid is actually more dependable than having PG&E in many areas. If you are using a message recording system and you lose power it will not work. An alternative is to use the AT&T message system. My wife Penny & I happen to own Plan B, which is a 24/7 answering service. I have my phones forwarded to it if I do not pick up after 4 rings or I am gone. If you have more than 1 line and or your phones use a power source you are toast if the power is out. One solution is to have a simple phone attached to one line and the ring tone will come with power from AT&T. On my system a cell phone may ring without the booster, if not use a 12 volt battery to bring the booster back on line.

I had one for 2 years. If you are line of site to a phone line you need an agreeable neighbor that will allow you to see the line and equipment from both ends. With this you can easily have up to 4 lines. For the first 2 years it was good, it ran about $7,000. When the equipment had problems I found the vendor only wanted to sell me new equipment. “Your system is no longer manufactured”. You need 2 solar panels (or power), and 2 or 3 good car batteries at each end. In my experience if the panels are visible from the pavement, someone will steal them. They stole everything. Again the vendor was non responsive. After 3 days of waiting just for a quote I started looking. in That is when I changed to the present cellular system I have now, which has been much more dependable.

In the mid 80’s I had the first briefcase telephone. From the top of the mountain behind Lake Sonoma I could hit the only tower which was above Oakland, about 95 crow miles. Then we progressed to what we called bag phones which were about 9 by 7 inches and weighed about 4 lb. They were 5 watt’s. Then we went to what looked like small military radios, also 5 watts. At that stage the cell companies were doing great, then they reduced the range and power to less than 1 watt, which is where we are now.

I have been there 7 times, we are so lucky to be living here. When there I am typically 1 hour from a small town and 4 or more hour’s from a city. Cell service has been a boom to undeveloped countries. I have for $550 taken portable packages of the above (what I have hard wired into my cars ) and given it to my guide and to the ranch for their employees. Before that they had to hike about a mile to a location where they might be able to make a call. They love it!

Precision Wireless Services 800 772 3007 707 886 6855
Joe White

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