Cel-Fi Range Extender Australian Review

Does the phone coverage at your house suck? Wish you could build your own cell tower on your front lawn? Thankfully, you won't have to go to such extremes considering that the Cel-Fi booster exists.

What Is It?

The Cel-Fi range booster is essentially a cute little femtocell for your house: a contraption that artificially boosts the signal from your phone network so you can get faster speeds and better coverage.

What's Good?

It's easy to think that a product like a femtocell would require a professional to come and install, but the Cel-Fi is actually pretty simple, if a little time consuming.

It comes with a manual you'll actually use, with big fold-out instructions that are easy to complete. It also gives you a guide for where you should be putting the device in your house for the best results.

As far as the hardware is concerned, there are two units, and the second needs to be placed as far away as possible while still being in your house. Thankfully, you don't have to guess at it, as the device gives you indicators about where would be best to place it.

The Best Part

It actually works. We tested this on the Telstra network at the home of one of our staffers here at Allure Media who only got one bar of signal at the best of times. In the more difficult areas of the house, the phone wouldn't even see the network.

Deploying the Cel-Fi meant that everyone got a massive coverage boost in all areas of the house: from zero bars to five, with videos and content loading quicker than ever.

Coverage is also consistent with the Cel-Fi, leaving no dead spots around the house once it was switched on.

The main unit is pretty ugly because it’s big. The secondary unit is much more attractive, like a cardboard box.

What's Bad?

Of course, all this coverage comes at a price. Quite a high price in fact. There's no easy way to say it: it's $770.

While that cash gets you a bunch of coverage, you won't be able to go very far with it. We found the Cel-Fi doesn't really extend beyond your house, so if you're in the garden or your neighbours want to get a bit of fringe benefit from the device, you'll be out of luck.

In the same vein, it's not going to help visitors who aren't on the network you're boosting.

Should You Buy It?

It really depends on how much you value getting coverage at home. Say you bought a new house only to realise it doesn't have much in the way of service. That's when buying a Cel-Fi helps. Even if you're a business which has ditched phone lines in favour of a mobile workforce: this thing makes sense.

You've gotta really want it though, because $770 is tonnes of cash for slightly better signal.

[Cel-Fi]

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Comments

    The Telstra branded version is $720 it is exactly the same apart from looks
    http://www.telstra.com.au/business-enterprise/business-products/mobiles/telstra-mobile-smart-antenna/

    can't see this really being a consumer device unless the cost significantly comes down. If it was $100 - $200 might have some interested parties but $770 to me seems very business oriented.

    Got so excited until saw the price. Brother moved into a new house and the reception is awful, can never have a clear conversation with him. Even more annoying, i live 1km down the road and reception is perfect so this would have been ideal for him.

    i have had a few of these for about a year, they work great

    Facetime Audio, Skype, etc etc. I get 1 bar of 2g Telstra coverage at my house. thank god for iphones.

    These can also be used with an external antenna for the window unit, meaning you might be able to get coverage just outside what is considered the Telstra coverage area.

    As somewhat mentioned in the article, if the two boxes are close to each other, the Coverage Unit holds back on power so it doesn't interfere with the Window Unit on 850MHz. When using an external antenna, if you can't put the Coverage Unit far enough away, it can be beneficial to put the Window Unit in a metal box, so they don't interfere with each other and the Coverage Unit runs at or close to full power, 9 being full power.

    These Cel-Fi units are not Femtocells, they are repeaters.
    Femtocells are generally units that connect localised cellular traffic via ADSL or Cable (Oputs sells a femtocell for their coverage problems - they called it Home Zone).
    Unfortunately my patchy internet connection means the Home Zone was regularly dropping out. Thanks to Abbott, that won't be changing any time soon, so I switched to the Cel-Fi repeater which works great.
    Kogan sells them for a little cheaper than the prices listed here.

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