Thanks to several dozen Cool Tool readers, I received many suggestions for boosting the strength of my cell phone signal indoors. Basically, the suggestions broke down into four major categories:
1) Use call forward system to forward cell calls to my land line.
2) Use a VOIP solution that would ring to both my cell number and land line number.
3) Use a wireless indoor antenna booster. This requires mounting an antenna outside the house and running cable to a smaller antenna in the room. Typical cost of this solution starts over $400.
4) Use a wired indoor antenna booster. This requires having a cable connect from the phone to an indoor antenna. These solutions range from about $40 to $100, depending on the size of the antenna.
I ended up going with option 4, as a low cost “good enough” solution. I bought an ARC Freedom Antenna. The antenna comes with a three foot cable attached, with a female adaptor at the end. You then have to buy a cable specific for your phone. I have the Palm Treo 600 and got the cable from http://www.MaxMost.com for $12, plus shipping. (Note that Radio Shack apparently also sells this same antenna, but they have a unique cable terminator which requires you to choose only from their limited assortment of phone cables.) The antenna itself is encased in black plastic, about 4 inches wide by 7 inches high and very thin. It has a small detachable stand for table top use, or also comes with suction cups if you want to mount it to a window or wall. (This antenna can also be used in your car.)
In my case, I am in a windowless basement with poured concrete walls. Without the antenna I had 1 bar on my Treo with Verizon service, and with the antenna I now have 2 bars. For $52, I can at least now consistently dial out, receive calls and move around the office, although I am now tethered to the antenna. (Hey, maybe I’ll rig up a way to connect this antenna to my belt!) Anyway, problem solved.