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ianstjohn100
Beginner
327 Views
Message 1 of 11

Zero phone coverage where I am... what are my options? Can I still get the signal assist?

Hi there, so I live in rural Devon and have zero phone coverage in the house or outside. I currently have a BT mobile sim for both myself and my wife, but as the coverage is so poor it's driving me crazy. Seems like everything these days needs an SMS for verification for something, which means I have to hike down the road and wang my arms around in the rain hoping for a gust of wind to blow in a text message! Then go back inside to find it's timed out and repeat until I'm a drowned rat. Even calling BT, after talking them through my problem, they ask to take me through account verification by sending me... a text 😅

My wife has an iPhone which works with WiFi calling, so that's fine. I have a Moto G5 which (although the hardware supports WiFi calling) does not work with BT WiFi calling. I was assured it would before I bought it, but looks like it's not actually supported. The menu settings for it don't even appear. I've been down the rabbit hole of trying to get it working several times but seems fruitless. Possibly it would work on another network, but it's not working with BT.

Last month I made a grand total of 2 mins of calls, so I'm currently paying for almost literally nothing. I've been racking my head around trying to solve this problem, but seem to hit a dead end with each route. I'm not bothered about fast 4g/5g etc, just want to be able to get a decent enough signal to make and receive calls and send text messages.

Anyone able to help me out? 

Different things I've thought/tried:

1. Get BT to give me a Signal Assist Box. This looks perfect! I could buy it, plug it in to the broadband, and hey presto, 3g signal throughout the house. Unfortunately speaking to BT about this, it's hard trying to get through to someone who knows what it is. When I have done, I'm told that they're no longer sold or available. Replaced by WiFi calling, which is great if you have a phone that supports it... 😗
2. Source a BT Signal Assist on eBay. Happy to do this, if it would work. But from a chat with BT just now, they told me they can no longer activate the boxes, and it wouldn't work. Is that true? Does it actually need activating, or would it maybe just work, if I could find a new unused one? 
3. Switch to another network that will let me have a signal box. I phoned EE, so same main network as BT, and asked about their Signal Box (which seems the same as the cisco supplied BT one anyway, model USC3331). Lady was not clear exactly what it was, but again message was they don't supply them anymore and it wouldn't work to buy one myself.
4. Switch to another network that has coverage round here... Vodafone is possibly an option, but even then it is patchy. 

I realise if I had a different phone then I could get WiFi calling to work. But I don't really want to buy a whole new phone, especially as I had originally sourced the G5 after checking with BT that it would work with WiFi calling. 

I really like the sound of the Signal Assist, and it seems like there's quite a few in this community who have one working well. So my main question is, if there is anyway I can still get one today in 2021 and have it activated and working? And if not, is there any other obvious thing I'm missing to let me use the basic functionality of my phone? 🙂

Thanks!


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10 REPLIES 10
NigelB72
Recognised Expert
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Message 2 of 11

Re: Zero phone coverage where I am... what are my options? Can I still get the signal assist?

Signal assist would be the way to go as it's a femto cell and effectively provides a local cellular network in your house that runs via your broadband... 

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ianstjohn100
Beginner
296 Views
Message 3 of 11

Re: Zero phone coverage where I am... what are my options? Can I still get the signal assist?

Hi Nigel, yes that would be great, I would love to try the Signal Assist. I think it would solve my woes too, but calling BT a couple of times they told me it's discontinued and they can't supply me one, and also that if I buy one myself on eBay they won't be able to activate it... I wonder if it would just 'work' if I bought one and tried it despite what they said on the phone, though from browsing around here it seems it needs to be registered and setup on BTs (or EEs) end so I'm not sure. It's tempting to try it just for a punt, if I can get the box cheap enough.

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Paul608085
Aspiring Expert
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Message 4 of 11

Re: Zero phone coverage where I am... what are my options? Can I still get the signal assist?

When I enquired to BT very recently about Signal Assist due to long term faults on the 2 masts that serve my area, I was told that it was no longer being supplied and the back-end for it is being removed. They are pushing people towards WiFi calling.

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Paul608085
Aspiring Expert
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Message 5 of 11

Re: Zero phone coverage where I am... what are my options? Can I still get the signal assist?

I think that the back-end is necessary to direct your calls to the Signal Assist rather than the normal cell sites, so I don't think that it would work?

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Paul608085
Aspiring Expert
289 Views
Message 6 of 11

Re: Zero phone coverage where I am... what are my options? Can I still get the signal assist?

I'm in a similar position with WiFi calling on my HTC 10: phone supports it, but because I bought the handset secondhand it does not have the BT Mobile firmware so it cannot be activated.

If I could find a reliable copy of the BT Mobile ROM for the HTC10, then I would happily flash it - but so far no luck.

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ianstjohn100
Beginner
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Message 7 of 11

Re: Zero phone coverage where I am... what are my options? Can I still get the signal assist?

Hi Paul, thanks for the responses! That's what they told me too (that's it's deprecated in favour of WiFi calling). I completely get why that makes sense generally, but just frustrating (for me) as I can't get it working on my phone and the signal box would likely have worked.

I have the Moto G5S Plus and the according to Moto/Lenovo it does support WiFi calling, but I've never been able to get it to work with BT. If I search in settings for 'WiFi Calling' it appears in the search, but if you click on it it takes you to the mobile settings page and WiFi calling is not an option where it should be.

I've tried using the ActivityLauncher app and launching the Wifi Calling setting activity directly, and do get the toggle to turn it on fine (https://forum.xda-developers.com/t/how-to-enable-wifi-calling-in-mm.3257170/), but similar to the others on that thread, it doesn't stay enabled. As soon as I come out the activity and back in again, the toggle is off. So it seems like the phone does have WiFi calling support, but something on the carrier level is not allowing it to work. I thought about going down the route of flashing a custom rom onto it too, but put off so far by the effort to do it 🙂


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NigelB72
Recognised Expert
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Message 8 of 11

Re: Zero phone coverage where I am... what are my options? Can I still get the signal assist?

Ahh I wasn't aware signal assist had been discontinued. I was looking into WiFi calling and it would appear to only work on compatible handsets supplied by BT Mobile... I'd imagine this would be a marketing strategy to enable cross sales

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NoSirItWasntMe
Aspiring Expert
210 Views
Message 9 of 11

Re: Zero phone coverage where I am... what are my options? Can I still get the signal assist?

@NigelB72 

I have a Pixel 4 bought from a third party reseller that has WiFi Calling working on both Sims, a physical BT one and an EE esim so that can't be true.

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Paul608085
Aspiring Expert
156 Views
Message 10 of 11

Re: Zero phone coverage where I am... what are my options? Can I still get the signal assist?

I think that there are four possible combinations of handset and BT WiFi compatibility:

1.) Handset is on WiFi Calling capable and therefore will not work at all.

2.) Handset is WiFi Calling capable, but was not obtained through BT and therefore will not work. (ISTR these were phones that were introduced around the same time or were still fairly new to market at the time BT's WiFi Calling started).

3.) Handset is WiFi Calling capable and obtained through BT, and therefore WILL work.

4.) Handset is WiFi Calling capable, not obtained through BT, but WILL still work. (I think that these tend to be handsets introduced to market some time after BT WiFi Calling started?)/

There used to be a page on BT's website, (when WiFi calling was first introduced), that detailed which handsets fell into category 2, but I can't find it now. Actually the list was of devices that WOULD work, but ONLY if they were bought through BT. That is how I found out after purchasing it, that my HTC 10 was on that list 😞 . The only list that I can find now is of phones that BT sell that are compatible.

So I guess that ultimately, whilst BT do not actively prevent 3rd party phones from using WiFi calling, they promote their own devices. A bit like the situation where HomeHubs are preferred but some third party routers will work?

 

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