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Improving mobile phone reception in a narrowboat

I'm looking for a cheap way to get a better signal inside a steel narrowboat with portholes - a near-perfect Faraday cage that blocks any signals in or out. I've seen phone boosters for cars that fit to a window, basically just passing the signal passively between an outside aerial and an inside one, using an inductive coupler to get through the glass. I thought I might try getting two carphone aerials, one outside and one in, and just connecting them together with a short cable. Obviously there will be some attenuation, but has anyone tried either of these methods? I don't want to make a hole in the roof unless I'm sure it would improve reception, but the idea of having a completely passive system with no power supply sounds good to me! I've seen examples of passive TV repeaters, using a pair of directional aerials linked by a cable, for instance to get a signal to houses below a hill, so it ought to work in theory.

Asked by: Robert Wood  | 10.11am, Sunday 23 April

WW says:

Many mobile phone boosters cannot be used legally in the UK because any radio transmitter must be licensed, although they can be sold.
I do not think that your idea of linking two aerials together, one inside and the other outside the boat, will work without an RF amplifier which would be illegal. The legal boosters are smart and can be controlled by the phone network providers and one of these systems will solve your problem; however assuming that you cannot alter the mooring, have you tried different phone networks? Often in a marginal signal strength area one network will be better than another due to the slightly different frequency.

Rupert Smedley  | 10.55AM, Tuesday 25 April

Readers say:

I have wireless broadband connection at home and have tried it on a narrow boat. I have a contract with 3 for £20 per month, for 409 Gb. Which isn't bad.I have wasted many GB watching SAFC games, a futile exercise!

Michael Connaughton  | 12.58PM, Tuesday 30 May

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