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January 07, 2009

zBoost: Making the Most of Your Mobile Investment

If you don’t own an iPhone (News - Alert), a G1, or a BlackBerry Storm, you almost certainly know someone who does. If for no other reason, the media hype around these and other mobile phones has made them must-haves for many. Of course, they’re not really phones anymore, though they do enable voice calling. It would be more appropriate to call them mobile multimedia devices, which have jumped to the fore of mobile technology, thanks in no small way to the incredible application development efforts from any number of vendors.

From basic calling and email, to document viewing and editing, to video communications and IP PBX (News - Alert) integration, to corporate network access and Internet access, there is little these devices aren’t capable of. Just take a look at the list of downloadable applications available for these devices that enable increased productivity, personalization, and entertainment. They can be used anywhere to accomplish nearly any task.
But the exciting applications aside, there is still one pitfall to relying too heavily on cellular networks, which is evident from the results of a recent survey by Harris Interactive (News - Alert), commissioned by Wi-Ex. The State of the Cell Signal Survey clearly indicates that network connectivity is an issue, which obviously inhibits the productivity otherwise enabled by mobile devices. In fact, 70 percent of respondents say they experience problems with their service, including dropped communications and poor signal quality.
Because many mobile activities today – particularly in the business world — require data services (nearly two-thirds of respondents say they use data services on their phones), network reliability is a key component of the service delivery. Unfortunately, more than half of those data service users (51 percent) say they experience difficulties when using those services, which include email, Web browsing, SMS and MMS, and more.
While carriers claim to have reliable service nearly everywhere — at least one says it has field workers checking to see if they can be heard clearly even in the most remote locations — the fact is that there are dead zones. In fact, I myself have rather poor reception in my home, though the radio on my Storm seems to offer a significant improvement over my previous devices. 
The point, though, is that in order to gain the maximum benefit from these new devices, cellular reception is a must, which is why Wi-Ex commissioned this survey in the first place.
Wi-Ex develops cell phone signal boosters that increase cellular coverage within the immediate area of the devices. Its zBoost line of boosters offers a solution for weak signals, with a variety of products that includes single- and dual-band units, individual and multi-user deployments, and a variety of coverage areas. What they all have in common is a solution for the common cellular black hole.
The zBoost line includes devices for a number of deployment scenarios, but all are easily deployed and will immediately increase the cellular signal strength within their coverage areas:
  • zBoost International — Works with 900 MHz phones and 1800 MHz phones simultaneously, increases your indoor cell signal coverage up to 200 sq. meters; Introductory price $499;
  • zBoost zPocket – Personal workspace booster works with both 800 MHz and 1900 MHz; $119 and can be used with a speakerphone or Bluetooth headset;
  • zBoost zPersonal (zP) — Personal booster that works with both 800 MHz and 1900 MHz; $169; single user increases coverage from 4-6ft;
  • zBoost — Cellular frequency works with 800 MHz - $299 - multiple users simultaneously; increases coverage up to 2500 sq ft.
  • zBoost — PCS frequency works with 1900 MHz; $299; multiple users simultaneously; increases coverage up to 2500 sq ft.;
  • zBoost — Dual Band works with both 800 MHz and 1900 MHz; $399; multiple users simultaneously; increases coverage up to 2500 sq ft.;
  • zBoost for the car — Dual Band works with both 800 MHz and 1900 MHz; $299;
  • zBoost safety division — Flexible and affordable technology designed for the public safety market;
  • zBoost for the Professional Installer — zBoost 600 series of products include single frequencies or a dual-band unit.
David Martin, who uses the device in Texas, said, “This device proved to be very handy after Hurricane Ike had passed and there was some obvious damage to cellular infrastructure due to flooding and loss of power due to the water, wind or both. The YX510 successfully pulled in cellular signals from other towers and helped keep us connected via iPhone when others were experiencing signal reception problems.”

Certainly, such emergency scenarios are an ideal example of how signal boosters can be an effective means of ensuring communications reliability.  But, they can provide the same level of service enhancement on a daily basis for business and home users alike, allowing them to gain the maximum benefit from their new devices and the applications and services developed for them.  
And if that’s not incentive enough, ensuring a good signal can help conserve your battery.  If you leave your phone in a location with spotty reception, it will expend considerably more resources trying to reconnect to the network.  Then, when you go to make a call or check email, you’ll find you have no battery.  How’s that for a lack of productivity?
Quite simply, what good is an iPhone if you have poor reception? With a relatively small investment, that problem can be easily overcome, and you can send documents, check email, or play the flute without fear of losing connectivity.

Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Managing Editor of TMCnet, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to nearly 3,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erik Linask

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