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The Next Wave in Cellphone Service Areas

Everyone's cellphone as a signal extension device
(+3, -3)
  [vote for,

Many people choose their phone service plans based primarily on rates and minutes. However, another major consideration is the service area of phones. Nextel phones have been regarded as the phones with the broadest service areas available.

It seems as though satellite-broadcasted signals can only penetrate so deep into subway tunnels, etc. What if each phone had a wireless extender built into it? It wouldn't have to be too large or too powerful--just enough so that it could bridge an incoming satellite signal to another phone 100 meters away that would otherwise be inaccessable.

With almost everyone these days owning a cellphone, this could potentially expand the service areas of cellphones so much that hardly any place in an area of medium population would be out of cellphone service.

Even in the mountains, people paying extra upon purchasing their phones in order to get a more senitive antenna could have service. People in sparsely populated areas could petition for the city to install range extenders every 1000 meters. Similar-looking to telephone poles, they would create a bridge that could span great distances depending on the number of extenders, providing service to people everywhere, even in the most distant middle-of-nowhere's (I hope that was comprehensible, it was a bit of a stretch).

eupoth, May 24 2005

Such a good idea, Motorola bought the company http://www.wi-fipla...article.php/3436581
[theircompetitor, May 24 2005]

Personal/group cell-phone relay Personal_2fgroup_20cell-phone_20relay
similar [xaviergisz, May 26 2005]

Peer To Peer Mobilage Peer_20To_20Peer_20Mobilage
Given a chain of mobiles all within range of one another, it might be possible to extend cell-phone coverage into remote areas otherwise completely cut off from the cell network. [xaviergisz, May 26 2005]


       People in rural areas have nothing to say on a cell phone. Recently a local 85 yr. old farmer was pinned under his seeder while fixing it, for three days. He doesn't own a cell phone. He just banged on metal with a hammer till someone got tired of listening to it and rescued him. He was in surprisingly good shape.
mensmaximus, May 24 2005

       In sets of three, fast and slow, at least I hope so. That would trigger my suspicions.
normzone, May 24 2005

       lol thats a really funny story, assuming he was alright.   

       Well if motorola beat me to it all I've got to say is...   

eupoth, May 24 2005

       oh and please dont hesitate to vote
eupoth, May 24 2005

       actually, that link doesn't look too close to what I was talking about. Maybe you didn't understand what i was talking about
eupoth, May 24 2005

       [eupoth] you seem to be talking about two different technologies - satellite phones and cellular phones. The former use satellites to provide signal, the latter employ radio masts with each mast covering a "cell" hence cellular phones. Apologies if you're aware of this, but the idea seems to mention satellite broadcasted signals being forwarded by cellular phones which won't work as they are entirely distinct from one another.

Cell phone to cell phone forwarding is also unlikely to happen under current architecture or anything in the pipeline as far as I know - phones have barely enough time to do what they have to do to maintain their own service, let alone acting as a forwarder for other phones. Nice idea but ultimately impractical so [-]
DocBrown, May 25 2005

       well thanks doc.   

       I suppose i got a little off topic. I started out talking about radio phones and ended up talking about satellite phones. I just think that since satellites can sometimes have trouble beaming their sugnal directly to the phone in question, it would be nice to be able to convert that signal to a radio signal and rebroadcast it. iPod uses similar technology to stream music to your car radio or home stereo, etc. without having to hook anything up to anything else. It is a relatively small gadget (about a third the length of the iPod) and is possible to make even more slim and compact. The iPod accessory is made only as wide as the iPod itself so that it will make the whole thing look a lot more streamlined, as if they are one piece, but it is larger than it has to be. Upon dissecting many electronic devices, you will find that excess room has been taken up (especially on non-portable devices or laptops) by screws or useless pieces of plastic, etc. I opened up my xbox recently, and hacked it. I was able to add a 160 GB HDD as well as a 40 GB iPod HDD. This may seem like a ridiculous modification, but I also modified the motherboard to make it possible for me to install emulators and games and other media, so that HDD space is essential. The xbox still has room for a lot more though, and I am considering installing an internal wireless card. I hope that gives you an idea of the amount of extra space that can be found in the devices we use.   

       As for them having "barely enough time to do what they have to do..., let alone acting a a forwarder" I don't think that any processing speed would have to be taken away from calls, web and messaging. The device would simply split the signal into two directions. The first would go to the phone and the second would be relayed via the broadcaster to another phone. Maybe it is impractical, though. I imagine most people would be too selfish to care for this plan unless they were the ones it would serve; they'd hate it until they got into the subway.
eupoth, May 25 2005

       I think this is workable. I turn on my cell phone, and it attempts to send a MIN and ESN to an available cellsite. If none are reachable, I get no service. However, if I can reach another phone which is within coverage range, it could forward my phone's registration request; within current capabilities, since cellphones are full duplex. The phone simply turns into a single channel micro cell, which can be used any time it is turned on but not busy with a call itself. The downside is that it would eat your batteries when you aren't paying attention, and that you would sometimes grab your phone to place a call, and find somebody else was using it. Also, it would be fairly easy to spoof - I can set up my phone to say that it's forwarding a call from you; I make my call, you pay.
lurch, May 25 2005

       good point lurch. It would have to be kind of high security, and I can totally see people exploiting it, especially when phone service is as expensive as it is now. I would try to make it more of a hardware alteration than a software alteration since the only way to hack hardware is to touch it.
eupoth, May 26 2005

       I like the idea of networked phones, but I have to agree on the power point. A cellphone uses much less power in standby mode than in active transmit mode. When acting as a relay node, the phone would likely use as much power as if it were making the call itself. As it is, my battery life is short enough, I wouldn't want to shorten it.   

       On the other hand, if this could be disabled for all but emergency call (9-1-1 in the US) relays, I'd bun it.
Freefall, May 26 2005

       [Freefall] makes a good point. I suspect that quite shortly there will come a new generation of portable power storage devices, but until then, it would definitely drain the battery to use this idea. I guess if it could be made so that it would require very little power to operate, it wouldn't be such a problem and would be more practical. I definitely like your 911 idea, too, [freefall]. I am horrified at the tought of being, say, a kidnapping victim and suddenly having about two minutes access to a cellular phone and not having any service to use the phone. Suddenly, the killer walks back in to discover me standing there with the phone in hand...   

       Uh, yeah. So it would be nice for the 911.
eupoth, May 27 2005

       What about using earth resonant frequencies? 8ghz right? Would reach through tunnels.
subflower, Nov 17 2005


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