Anytone AT-400C CDMA Cellular Repeater Review

One of the downsides of living rural is the lack of cellular coverage, at least in my neighborhood as I’m lucky to get a signal on my T-Mobile phone and have a weak signal on my Verizon phone in my house.  The folks at MyAmplifiers.com think they may have the solution with their AnyTone AT-400C CDMA Cellular Repeater, so I jumped at the chance to give their mobile phone booster a test drive.  If nothing else, it turned out to be a learning experience.

My first mistake was that I looked at their website and the AT-400C page shows a picture of a device with the letters GSM printed upon it.  Not thinking, I assumed (I know what assumed means Laughing), that it would amplify my T-Mobile cell phone signal.  When the package arrived in a plain white unmarked box, I was surprised that the device had CDMA printed on it.  I then took a look at the specs.

Technical characteristics:

Indoor coverage: 80 m2 
Up-link frequency: 824~849MHz
Down-link frequency: 869~894MHz
Up-link Gain: 30 dB
Down-link Gain: 40 dB
Power supply: DC 9V (AC 220V power adapter supplied)
Working Temperature: -25 to +55 C
Humidity: 5-95%
Size(mm): 123x86x33
Weight: 2 kg

Further investigation revealed that the AT-400C will work for GSM phones, just not in the US.  T-Mobile operates in the 1900 MHz band here.  Luckily I also have a Verizon CDMA phone that operates in the 800 MHz band, so the review could go on.  To be fair, the MyAmplifiers web site does show other models that work for the 1900 MHz band.

This is part of the equipment that makes up the AT-400C.  Notice the mains adapter.  The wall wart is meant for European style outlets.

There are 9 meters of cable to attach the receiving antenna with the amplifier.

One side of the amp has connectors for the re-transmitting antenna and a power in socket.

The other side has the connector for the cable coming from the receiving antenna.

A look at the bottom of the cell phone booster illustrates 2 things:  the mounting holes are very small and I found it difficult to get a screwdriver past the connectors.  And you may have noticed, nowhere on this device is there any indication of who or where this device was made.  There was a packing slip inside the package indicating shipping from ShenZen China.

Following the directions for installation that came with the device, I searched around my residence for the best possible signal strength with my Verizon phone.  I admit I had some help, because I have a thing about heightsEmbarassed.   Around my house we found the best signal to be at the roof peak on the second story.  Because I didn’t want to punch holes in the side of my house, I went into the attic and found the same signal strength on the other side of the wall, so I mounted the receiving antenna there.

 An advantage to mounting the antenna inside is that I don’t have to worry about lightning strikes and it was easier to mount on a piece of wood rather than attaching it to a pole.

Here’s a shot of the signal strength at the point where the receiving antenna was placed.

The amplifier was also  mounted in the attic, directly above my home office.  It was positioned more than the minimum of 5 meters away from the receiving antenna and at least 2 meters above ground.

The signal strength at the amplifier was 2 bars before the amp was powered up.

After power was applied to the amp, the strength jumped to 4 bars.  This was at a distance of about 2 feet from the antenna.  However, the signal strength dropped fast as I moved away from the amp.  At about 4 feet I was down to 3 bars and at 10 feet 2 bars was the maximum.

The AT-400C specification states that it is suitable for an 80 m2 space (861 ft2).  As my house is 2 story and 2000 ft2 this should cover at least the upper floor.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.  At any distance greater than 10 ft, there was no benefit to having the amp on.  I had the same signal with and without the amp.

Perhaps my results would have been better had I installed the receiving antenna outside on a pole as illustrated in their installation sheet, but I had the same signal level at the same point on both sides of my attic wall.  Also, there is drywall between the transmitting antenna and the place where I use the phone which may have attenuated the signal.

I expected more from this device.  There are other versions available from MyAmplifiers.com that purport to cover a greater area, but there are some basic issues even if they did work.  Compared to vendors of similar devices, the AT-400C is a bargain, but you get what you pay for.  To the best of my knowledge they have no presence in the US, for those of us here who would be interested.  From what I can glean from the website, their target market is Asia and Europe.  I also have a problem when there is no indication on the device about where it’s made or who made it.

This device may work for those who have a strong signal outside which they wish to duplicate in an area of 80 m2 or less.  The documentation for the device is confusing.  Sometimes the AT-400C is referred to as a repeater and at other times it states that the device will amplify the signal.  In my experience it’s probably not for someone who lives in a cellular dead zone, but if you live near a cell tower and want to repeat the signal inside, it may work.  Be aware that to install the device correctly, you may need to hire a contractor to mount the outside antenna and run cables to the area you wish to cover.

 

Product Information

Price:$159
Retailer:MyAmpifiers.com
Requirements:
  • 80o MHz cell phone
Pros:
  • Cheap
Cons:
  • Limited coverage area
  • No U.S. contact
Posted in: Home, Kitchen, Reviews

{ 11 comments… add one }

  • GREGG April 2, 2012, 5:26 pm

    I would like to see this product tested or if someone has this product let us know what you think.

    http://www.amazon.com/Wireless-Extenders-YX545-Dual-Band-Booster/dp/B003VOW5WI/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1333401911&sr=1-2

  • Norm April 3, 2012, 1:09 am

    We have very weak signal from Sprint at my house so Sprint gave me an Airave mini-cel,tower. Works great, strong signal, 800 foot range, but sucks with Android phone messages-tend to repeat them 10x sometimes. Verizon has a similar device but charges for it.

  • Robert Grenader April 3, 2012, 8:32 pm

    Contact your cellular carrier, tell them you want out of your contract ’cause their service sucks. Fine where you work but can’t use it at home, want to cancel, etc, etc. Load it on.

    Sprint will give you an Airave for free if you pitch a righteous enough bitch.

  • Norm April 3, 2012, 10:18 pm

    Where I live no carrier works well. I did not have a hassel getting a free Airwave from Sprint, and when I later had problems with the first one they sent a replacement out quickly.

  • Ramavich April 4, 2012, 1:33 am

    I just switched from Sprint because I get any signal inside my house. They refused to give me an Airave so I switched to the only carrier that showed decent coverage in my neighborhood – T-Mobile. After I got the phone home I did indeed have at least two bars inside, but then I discovered that T-Mobile has an awesome APP called WiFi Calling. As soon as I get within range of any WiFi network and connect I can make all my phone calls and text messages over the WiFi connection. If all the carriers would start doing this ( at least on smart phones) most or us would be much happier. Now, if only I hadn’t paid for three years of MagicJack already.

  • James McClellan April 4, 2012, 7:21 am

    I gotta say, if your not gonna install the equipment correctly then don’t give the product a bad rap. A lot of repeaters if not all, MUST be outdoors in order to function properly.

    In this case you admit that you installed it incorrectly, but then go on to say that you’re disappointed with the product. Why? Because it doesn’t function the way you think it should? Awwwww. You can’t always have your way….

  • Sarah April 4, 2012, 8:13 am

    Same with At&t, no service in our home…..we even moved & still no service. Complained, threatened to cancel & viola we got a Microcell, their mini tower. Now I have full bars.

  • Byron April 4, 2012, 8:20 am

    Antennas inside of attics will never work as well as outside
    There is a lot of interference from the metals in the shingles

    AT&T , Verizon, sprint all offer microcell boosters
    mine (AT&T) cost less than what you paid and there are no monthly costs

    Verizon’s works well, there may be a cost, but it will be worth it in the long run.

  • Jimbo September 13, 2012, 12:40 pm

    I had the exact same experience with the repeater/amplifier and my external antenna is mounted outside if the attic on the roof. If I stand next to the repeater(2-4ft) I get enough boost to use my phone. If I move away from it at all, I lose the boosted signal. It does not cover anywhere near the area it advertises.

  • Steven September 24, 2013, 10:26 pm

    Rather than signal strength, once must look for the best SNR–signal to noise ratio. Of course you will get more bars as the repeater is very close to you. That does not mean that the signal your handset is getting is very useful. It will only be good if you can get a good signal from the carrier’s tower.

    Then you have to deal with the repeated signal ‘bleeding’ back into tower signal. This can be handled by some clever microelectronic circuitry to minimize its effects. The best way to get a clean(er) signal with the least amount of the aforementioned oscillation is to use a parabolic or yagi antenna that is carefully and properly pointed at the signal tower. Look up fresnel (parabolic dead spots) zones so that you aim with less signal attenuation.

  • john walker April 12, 2014, 9:34 am

    Mobile Repeater Australia sells mobile phone boosters and amplifiers. Not much amplifying going on if you ask me! The bloody thing comes direct from China with an invoice for $50USD. Now, had the booster of worked I would have not had a single complaint. I spent 5 hours trying to get it up and running with their terrible installation guide and got no response from there “technical support” team. Spoke to a fellow named Kory briefly, All I got from him was some poorly structured emails that didn’t make any sense. For all I know he is in China as well. Contacted consumer affairs and dept of fair trading. They will be dealt with properly.

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