Have you switched carriers to get better service at home?

Way back in the day, there used to be a way, if you were really adamantabout it, to get out of your cell phone bill –that infernal two-year contract– by saying you didn’t have any service in your house. The carrier would send folks out to test the signal there, and if they decided you didn’t have any service where you lived, well, you could go with another carrier.

I had it work for me once. It wasn’t easy, but it worked.

That ultimately didn’t last long, though, and I saw with my own eyes as people tried, and failed, to opt out of their service for this reasoning a countless number of times. And it became basically an impossibility when carriers started rolling out those in-house “network expanders.”

Little boxes that you plugged into the wall, and into your internet connection, which would then give you service in your home. Usually these weren’t free, so customers had to pay even more just to get service where they lived. It wasn’t the best scenario, and I’ve had to use a couple of the things in my many moves, but they worked well enough.

Earlier today Sprint announced the Magic Box, which is a bit different than what we’ve seen in the past. Yes, you’ve got to plug it into a power outlet, but you don’t have to plug it into your internet connection. Instead, you’ve gotta put it in a window so it can read out to a Sprint cell tower nearby. From there it will offer your phone even more service, what it might not have been able to nab down from that nearby cell tower on its own.

One of these days this might not be an issue, but, for now, it still is. So, while it is, I’m actually glad to see Sprint launch the Magic Box for free. Sure, they might charge you if you lose the box and/or don’t return it to them at some point, but as long as those things don’t happen you’ll get service in your home for no additional cost. The way it should be.

That Magic Box got me thinking about all the times that I’ve had great service with a carrier while out and about, but when I got home it dropped dramatically. I’m actually in a similar situation right now. The carrier I’m with has fantastic service in the town where I live –better than the competitors, which is why I’m with them– but where I live I’ve got one bar of LTE service. If I go down the street? Full bars. But here, inside, it’s a wasteland of coverage bars.

Wi-Fi helps, thanks to Wi-Fi Calling, so I’m not worried about it anymore. I did have to use one of those network extenders at one point, though. Setting them up can be a pain, but once that step is complete it has usually been smooth sailing for me.

How about you, though? Have you ever had to switch mobile carriers altogether because the service where you live has been awful? Have you ever had to use a network extender? Do you plan on picking up that Magic Box from Sprint? Let me know!

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