Receiving Wireless Analog CDMA GSM Digital Cell Service and Data in Remote Areas of the West. Motorola 2900 3 Watt Bag Phone Digital Replacement Upgrades.

The following are configurations I use to get cellular service in very rural areas of the west. These are our base camps we set up while exploring the local areas. I have never found an area, no matter how remote where I couldn't’t establish a cellular connection. The two key ingredients are the directional yagi antenna and, low loss coax and minimizing its length. These can easily be converted to permanent fixed installations. Phone service is Alltel wireless. (Alltel will end MOST analog service in the West in Sep 08) In general Wilson Antennas perform better than others I use/tested. Information on M800 bag phone Here

New! My Burning Phone Camp 2009 Super Rural iden Phone Setup

Converting Panamint Springs Resort to Digital

Glacier Pack Train Big Pine CA Cell Install

FAQ Page With Your Questions

Alltel Analog Turn Off Timeline


More digital setups coming soon as analog is off in most of the US.

cdma accessNow that analog is mostly gone, Digital can be a little different when it comes to antennas. CDMA Digital has the ability to use multiple 'towers' or reflections at one time, up to 5. More towers lower the digital error rate increasing data speed and voice quality. If your in a fairly populated area, go with an omni directional antenna. If your in a rural area where you want to focus all your reception on 1 tower go with a yagi. Generally a yagi will block the multi path ability of a cdma phone. If you live on a mountain top a yagi can be useful to block out pilot pollution. Pilot pollution is basically when the phone see so many tower it gets confused. A yagi can help focus in on one with a usable signal. More Info
Does not apply to GSM, use a yagi for fixed GSM setups.

Telular SX5T

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Telular SX5T, Replacement for 3 Watt Bag Phone and Cellular Connection Modem
Land Line Substitution/Replacement/Alternative

I have the Telular service software and can unlock/remove spc, load prl and program the nam on most of these. Contact me for details.

This is the digital replacement for the analog bag and cellular connection modem interface which produced a dial tone allowing a regular home phone, fax or credit card terminal to work off the analog cellular network. The Telular unit produces a dial tone and supports most any rj11 device plugged into it. Phone, FAX, dial up modem or credit card terminal. The nice thing about this unit is you can have very long lengths of wire between the unit and phone. As long a your using twisted pair wire, 1000'+ shouldn't be an issue. The Telular can be located where there is a usable cellular signal and a long length of regular twisted pair phone cable run to the user. It also features battery backup and has a female TNC antenna connector to allow for an external antenna.

See Converting Panamint Springs Resort to Digital

Its supported by most carriers and available in GSM and CDMA.

You may be able to get Telular from you carrier or Cell Antenna sells them.

A less expensive version that works with most handsets is the Dock and Talk or Here I would not recommend the dock and talk for permanent land line replacement. Go with the Telular.

boost iden rural nextel

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Motorola i305 iden Nextel/Boost Mobile Phone

iden works many places gsm and cdma digital wont because iden doesn't have the same artificial hard distance limits. Its also not affected by 'pilot pollution' (where the phone see several towers and get confused) This location is up high in the mountains, all the cell sites are located in the valley below. This location is outside the 22mile (35km) hard distance limit of gsm and both pilot pollution and hard distance limits are a problem with cdma. iden is the only service that works at this location now that analog is off.

The Motorola i305 may be the best phone ever made. Its an older model and the features are very limited but it is super rugged and has a great external antenna port. The yagi is not necessary other than the cabin is all metal and blocks the signal. Data is available on Boost/Nextel but its slow.

Motorola Q external Antenna

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Motorola Q Smartphone with Yagi external antenna at a very remote cabin in Nevada. Cabin requires a 5 hour hike and is over 30 miles from the tower. Signal is very week, -105db which is just usable. Phone performed fine and data worked as expected. Cushcraft aluminum yagi works very well and only weighs about a pound, good for backpacking. A very solid well tuned antenna. Antenna adapter I'm using with the Motorola Q is Wilson Part# 357012 and is designed for Kyocera SoHo (KX1). I have not found one specific for the Q this one appears to work fine.

E815 External Antenna

Best Performance Increase for the Money!

Best direct connect antenna I have tested. Turns a poorly performing handset into gold. Delivers huge performance increase to GSM phones. Mag mount to vehicle roof or sit near window in house. If you have 0-1 bar at home, may be able to make a call occasionally, get a text message occasionally try this first. More than likely you will have 2-3 bars and a well functioning phone. Get it from-Cell Gear USA

PPC External Antenna


Located in rural Big Bear California, this phone had no service (at&t) with the internal antenna and marginal service with the above example. This setup has made the phone usable. The next step is to mount the antenna outside where the signal will be stronger. Wilson Yagi mounted to Mic stand. Ebay, or Wilson dealer. RF connectors and adapters ( This phone uses the same connector as the Motorola V series phones. Works with GSM and CDMA

W315 Yagi Antenna

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Cellular Yagi Antenna 15 dBi Gain  824-896 MHz 63" Long! Out of 25 different yagis
I have tested, this one performs the best. Get it Here

This is using an analog signal in a very remote area of California over 55 miles from the tower. I'm using a 14 element yagi antenna directly connected to the phone. The phone is a Motorola W315 Tri-Mode phone. Signal is very week and phone has no chance of connecting without the antenna.

Materials and where I got them. 14 element cellular yagi ( Direct connect antenna adapter (phone to antenna) (Cell Gear USA). Alltel W315 and Alltel phone service(1-800-255-8351). RF connectors and adapters ( Antenna tri pod stand (ebay)

rural digital service

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This is using a 1x digital signal in a very remote area of Nevada over 25 miles from the tower. The signal is extremely low, >-100db. I'm using a Cyfre dual band amp with 6 inches of coax between the amps output and the 8 element yagi antenna. The Alltel M800 digital bag phone is connected to the amps input through 20’ of LMR 400 low loss coax. Any change in this configuration resulted in no signal at all. The phone could be substituted for just about any model that allows for a direct external antenna connection. This worked for 1x data as well as voice.

Materials and where I got them. 8 element Wilson cellular yagi (ebay). Cyfre dual band amp ( LMR 400 low loss coax (ebay). Alltel M800 bag phone and Alltel phone service(1-800-255-8351). RF connectors and adapters ( Antenna tri pod stand (ebay)

phone as modem yagi

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Motorola E815 Phone as Modem. Setup works well for voice too. Motorola W315 can be used or any phone with an external antenna port. Fewer and fewer are available now.

Materials and where I got them: 7 element cellular yagi (ebay, Wilson, Maximum signal, cell antenna sell them too). Alltel E815 phone (no longer available) and Alltel phone service (1-800-255-8351). LMR-195 cable, short run. (max 10'). Direct connect antenna adapter (phone to coax) (Cell Gear USA). RF connectors and adapters ( Antenna Tri-pod stand (ebay)

The Cellular Connection Modem

3 Watt Analog Bag Phone with Motorola S1936d Cellular Connection Modem.

(really no point in showing this now that analog is off in most of the US, replaced by setup at top of page, I still use this in some parts of CA and NV where analog is still the only service 11/2009)

This was the old school 'data, fax' setup. The black box creates a dial tone and acts as an interface between fax, credit card terminals, computers, or any desk style phone and the bag phone. There are still many people using this setup in rural areas where land line service is not available. Max data speed is about 4800.

I haven't found a good replacement for this setup. If a digital signal is available, Telular makes several solutions. If its an analog only area the only option I know of is the Dock and Talk.

I add to this often as I try new equipment and locations. Check back often!!
Questions? Email Me @

Death Valley Area Coverage Info