4G signal inside your home

Every home on Coll can now receive a 4G signal.

With three on-island 4G masts and four accessible from the mainland/other islands, there is no excuse for poor 4G in your home. However, you may need to lend a hand and boost a weak outdoor signal to be strong around the inside of your home.

What options are there for improving in-home reception? First, considered changing your mobile provider? that may be the simplest solution. (More info here)
Otherwise, there are two methods of improving connectivity around the inside of your home.

Option 1) Boost 4G phone coverage inside

(My preferred & recommended option)

For this you will need a 4G mobile signal booster (£200 => an-awful-lot-more). There are many on the market and the only things to ensure are:

  1. The booster is compatible with your mobile provider's transmission frequency (vital). Versions have either single frequency receptors or cover multiple frequencies, the more, the higher the cost. A multi-frequency device is handy for visitors who may use a different provider than you.
    Coll's transmitters are 800MHz and/or 1800MHz
  2. The external antenna is suitable for your location, chosen carefully between omnidirectional, multi-directional or directional.
  3. The internal antenna & booster combination is powerful enough to cover the area inside your house you wish to get reception. Multiple indoor antennas are possible.
  4. OFCOM have strict rules on the use of boosters - see here. Legal boosters must be designed to improve mobile phone coverage indoors only.
Broadband via this setup:

For the internet, through this connection, you need to purchase any LTE SIM modem, ranging from £20 to £(many hundreds). Unlike Option 2, any cheap modem will do. This can be placed anywhere within the umbrella of your in-house 4G mobile signal. You then feed your 4G broadband around the property just like land-line broadband, via WiFi or Ethernet or a combination.

Option 2) Get 4G broadband inside

For this you will need a 4G broadband router (MiFi or LTE SIM modem) but beware, cheap ones may not allow you to attach an outdoor aerial. There's quite a choice from both mobile providers and big names in routers; Netgear, D-Link, TP-link etc.. Be wary of one from a mobile provider as this will (probable) lock you forever into their network. Independents usually offer more functions & flexibility but may be more complicated to set up. Things to consider :

  1. The modem is compatible with the frequency/frequencies your mobile provider transmits on from their nearest cell tower(s) (vital).
  2. You choose a model that allows for connection to an external antenna.
  3. The external antenna is suitable for your location, chosen carefully between omnidirectional, multi-directional or directional.

You then feed broadband around the house just like land-line broadband via WiFi, Ethernet or a combination.

Making phone calls via this setup:

4G phone calls will have to be via WiFi - BUT your phone provider and phone must be compatible with WiFiCalling. Phone providers NOT offering WiFiCalling include:

  • giffgaff
  • Libara Mobile
  • Plusnet Mobile
  • Talkmobile
  • Tesco Mobile
Unfortunately, there's an added inconvenience of WiFiCalling: your guests will have to log into your WiFi using your password.

Lightning protection (from £15 upwards)

Any external aerial on Coll needs lightning protection.

Bad winters on Coll (remember 2014) can bring extensive lightning storms, a master at seeking the easiest route to earth, usually through your expensive booster/modem:
The lightning arrester is fitted in the cable between the outside antenna and booster/modem and must be connected to a good quality earth, either through your electricity supply or a substantial copper rod in the soil outside, preferably damp soil.
Believe me on this one, I learnt the expensive way!

Caveat: Lightning arrestors are not designed to handle the effects of a direct lightning strike - they protect only against nearby strikes, and bleed off accumulated charge.

Lightning arrestor for 4G