We reveal the latest mobile phone signal boosters

Looking for a mobile phone signal booster? It used to be the case that if you had a poor mobile phone signal at home, there was little you could do. If you were lucky, your provider let you out of your contract. But most people were locked in to a service they were often unable to use.

The good news is that the four major phone networks (EE, O2, Three and Vodafone) all now offer technological solutions that can help. Read on to find out more about what you can do if you’re looking for a mobile phone signal booster.

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Software mobile phone signal boosters

The simplest solution offered by the networks is free software – either pre-installed or available as a downloadable app. This enables you to make calls and send texts over the internet. You’ll need a broadband connection for it to work, and will still be charged at your normal rate, and you can use it wherever there’s a wi-fi signal.

However, software services are often limited to pay-monthly customers who have the latest smartphones.

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EE and Vodafone offer the smoothest internet calling services. In fact, you may not even notice you’re actually using a wi-fi network, rather than the mobile one, as their services are truly integrated with your phone. Your text conversations remain uninterrupted and your call log stays complete – you don’t need to switch to a different application when using a wi-fi network to connect to your friends.mobile signal

With EE’s service, it’ll even seamlessly switch you from wi-fi to 4G if you move out of wi-fi coverage (as long as you have an EE 4G Calling-enabled phone and you’re in an area with EE 4G coverage). Vodafone’s service can’t handle this handover yet, though the company is working on it.

Three and O2‘s internet calling services work in a slightly different way. You have to make calls and send texts through separate apps, making it harder to keep track of conversations and easier to miss calls and new texts.

Hardware mobile phone signal boosters

An alternative option is to get your own mini phone mast, known as a ‘femtocell’. These piggyback on your home broadband network to improve your phone signal and can be used with any 3G-capable phones. But they are limited to a fixed position – you have to be within around 15m of the device to benefit. Friends and family on the same network can also register to use them.

You can get free femtocells from Three (‘Three at home’) and EE (‘Signal Box’), but Vodafone charges £70 for its SureSignal box. We don’t think Vodafone customers should have to pay extra to make up for failings of the network and have asked the company to reconsider its position.

Mobile phone repeaters

As well as the network-supplied options outlined above, it’s also possible to buy signal boosters online. However, you shouldn’t be tempted to do this – it’s actually illegal to use these devices (which are also called ‘mobile repeaters’, ‘mobile phone signal boosters’ or ‘enhancers’) and their unlicensed use could result in a fine of up to £5,000 and up to a year in prison.

This may change in the future – the regulator, Ofcom, is looking into whether repeaters can be licensed. But for now, you should stick to the solutions offered by your phone provider.

Have you had problems with your mobile phone signal? Let us know what happened, below.

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How to complain – your rights if you have no signal