Sprint Cellular Service Terrible Indoors

To preface this post, I personally do not have Sprint, I have been a loyal AT&T customer since my first cell phone back in 2000 and honestly have never even considered switching carriers. I don’t know why so many people have problems with AT&T, but I’ve never run into anything major other than the phone not working out in the sticks of Wisconsin, which isn’t a big deal since I was on vacation anyways and there were plenty of friends around with phones that did work… actually Sprint was one of the few carriers that actually worked with full service up there. However, even though Sprint works up in the boondocks of Wisconsin, people still can’t get decent signal in my own apartment which is in the middle of a major Chicago suburb, literally steps away from the city itself.

AT&T, Verizon, US Cellular even T-mobile all work totally fine with full service in my apartment, but the second anyone with Sprint tries to make or receive a phone call there’s nothing. Normally this wouldn’t have been an issue, since like I said I don’t have Sprint, but my girlfriend does and she stays over quite a bit since moving out of her condo. So if she needs to make any phone calls on her phone she either has to walk outside the back door which gives her full signal, or stand near the windows which still barely works, it’s ridiculous. I understand sometimes when a building is completely solid the cell signals have a hard time penetrating them, but the entire wall is windows and she still can’t get a signal, yet outside on the same side of the building she has a full signal.

I don’t understand what the problem is here… obviously there is coverage based on both the fact that she can walk outside and use the phone and a bunch of websites list towers within 2 miles. And I know it’s not the phone since she had a Blackberry Pearl and now has the Blackberry Tour, both of which are newer phones yet still don’t work. My other friend also has the Palm Pre which does the same thing… How can a cell phone company claim to have coverage in an area and yet it can’t penetrate a couple windows? I don’t think I have special cellular blocking windows that only block Sprint’s signals, so what’s the deal?

I’ve been looking for a way to boost the signal inside the apartment so that she doesn’t have to stand by the window and yell so people can hear her, but the only option seems to be this Airave thing that Sprint offers, but it’s $50-100 for the unit itself and then another $5/mo yet still uses your own cell minutes. Why would I have to pay another $5/mo to use my own minutes? All I want is some sort of antenna or repeater or something that I can plug in that grabs the signal coming off the Sprint tower and extends it for like 20 feet, it’s not a big apartment, I don’t need to supply the whole building with a better signal, just the couch area and the bedroom.

Has anyone had any luck getting Sprint to do anything about these random dead spots? Or found some sort of repeater that actually works that isn’t hundreds of dollars? I would try to convince her to just switch services, but she just signed a new contract so that she could get the Tour so I don’t think she’ll be doing that anytime soon, plus she has a pretty good deal through work on Sprint service so I’m kinda stuck here. All this time I’ve been hearing problems with AT&T’s network and how the iPhone is killing it and there are so many dropped calls, etc, yet I have never had a problem and my girlfriend is constantly having problems with Sprint. Does Sprint have free roaming or anything? Can I force the phone onto a different tower and see if that works? I really don’t know what to do and she gets so frustrated when she can’t hear people or they can’t hear her and frankly I don’t like dealing with it…. ugh, cell phone companies need to worry about upgrading their networks and coverage before they start lowering prices.