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PORTLAND, OR, United States – In the US market, a major complaint amongst mobile customers is weak mobile signals either at home or in the workplace. You know how it goes – your mobile seems to work great while you’re out and about, but the minute you step into your house or place of work, the signal drops out. Personally, I’ve seen people stand on one end of the deck out side their house because that’s the one place in their house where their carrier signal allows them to maintain a call. Ridiculous, isn’t it?

When you have a weak signal it’s a very frustrating experience. As a result, you miss calls and text messages and perhaps can’t check out your social networks unless you’re lucky enough to have access to a Wi-Fi hotspot.

There are a few existing technologies that can help out with this frustrating problem.  The first option is called a repeater or also a GSM signal booster (similar units are available for CDMA networks). These units can cost hundreds of dollars and are available for the car and also for the home.  The home-based units I have tried require you to plug in the device and put it wherever the signal is strongest in your house. In theory, the signal booster then provides a better signal throughout your residence by repeating the signal for roughly 2,500 square feet.

Second, carriers are selling femtocells. These small router-sized devices are basically a small cellular base station. They work by connecting the gizmo to your home high-speed Internet such as your cable modem or DSL line and utilizing this as an uplink to the cellular’s phone system. Femtocell or macrocell devices support 2-4 active phone connections and are often used in home or small office settings.

Unfortunately, in the United States, carriers are charging around $150 for femtocell devices, making them too expensive for many mobile phone consumers.

However, if you happen to have a Nokia with Wi-Fi calling as your primary mobile device, you have an advantage in any weak coverage area. With devices such as the Nokia E73 and Nokia Astound, you have a device that can utilize Wi-Fi calling (more formally called Unlicensed Mobile Access or UMA).

These Nokia models can use plain old Wi-Fi to route calls and SMS messages, meaning wherever you can access a Wi-Fi network, you have a fantastic way to make crystal clear calls calls and send text messages too. The clarity of Wi-Fi calling is present no matter how strong the traditional cellular network is in your current location.

So, in effect, using Wi-Fi calling bridges the gap where your cellular connection may fail.  While your friends may struggle with maintaining a call or sending a message in a poor signal area, as long as you have a Nokia equipped with Wi-Fi calling, you’ll be happily messaging and chatting away while they suffer in frustration as they are effectively out of touch.

Are you a user of Wi-Fi calling?  Let’s discuss the pros and cons below.

image credit: Valiere Everett