Are There Extensions for Cell Phones in Your Home?

Ronni was a speaker at Gnomedex last year. She is one amazing lady, and a good friend. She has an excellent question, sent to me recently via email. Sadly, I don’t have the answer. However, I’m hoping one of you out there will know if there’s something like what she’s looking for.

Since you are my guru for all things technology or vaguely related, I’ve got a question for you:

I use a VoIP service for my home telephone. I have one base phone with two extensions so I don’t need to run the length of the apartment when someone calls. I also have a cell phone.

Cell reception is so good in my neighborhood, I don’t really need to be paying $300 a year for the VoIP service. But if I cancel it, I’m stuck with one cell phone and who knows where it might be when it rings. I have trouble remembering to stick it in my pocketbook when I leave the house, and I certainly wouldn’t remember to take it with to the bedroom at night or wherever else in the house I’m going to be for awhile. Plus, I don’t see the point of having two telephone numbers these days.

So here’s what I’m wondering:

Is there such a thing as an internal network for cell phones that combines with normal extension handsets? Maybe a box of some sort connected through the landline jacks that most homes have already installed? I can’t imagine that this doesn’t exist, and it would be particularly useful for women whose clothes don’t often have pockets like men’s clothing, so it’s not easy to keep a cell phone with you all the time.

Or maybe there’s another solution…

Perhaps you’ve addressed something like this in one of your videos that I’ve missed, or maybe you could do so if you haven’t.

I hope you and Ponzi are well,

Come on Geeks. Ronni is right… there has to be something out there that can help her. What have you come across that may fit the bill?

17 thoughts on “Are There Extensions for Cell Phones in Your Home?”

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  2. That’s what I’ve been waiting for as well. My ideal scenario would be to replace our home phone with a cell that stays docked to provide the standard phone extensions as Ronni suggests. Then I could have add-on family phones for my wife & I to carry throughout the day. We need a phone that rings to the house with multiple pickup points for our kids & babysitters. None of the current options is terribly convenient or cost-effective – but if you could dock a cell phone in this way it would be fantastic. Well, other than the fact that our reception isn’t great – maybe the dock could provide an enhanced antenna as well…

  3. I am the reverse of this. Cell reception sucks most places in my house and I would love to be able to put my cell phone in one of the spots that work and be able to answer it from a handset in a room where it doesn’t.

    Is a cell phone repeater/booster available? something I can mount on my roof to improve reception anywhere in my house?

  4. Maybe the bluetooth enabled phones are a good option.. they connect with your cell phone and come with a couple of extensions.

    The GE Cell Fusion Cell Manager is an example.. I think it is around $90 and available at places like Circuit City..

  5. We canceled our land line a while back and we both use blue tooth headsets when the above mentioned problems arise. So far we are very happy with our cell-only home. This is a simple, available method, but I am sure there are or will be better ideas to come; and I will look forward to them as well.

  6. Ronni, Chris,

    There are a number of cordless phone systems you can purchase that are bluetooth enabled. Do a Google search for ‘cordless phone bluetooth’ and you will see a number of them. Panasonic (KX-TH1211B), AT&T (EP5632), GE (28129FE2), Vtech (LS5145) all make bluetooth cordless phones that will allow you to answer calls from (as well as make calls with) your cellular phone.

    – Marc

  7. The Uniden base phone (about 3 years old) had Blue-Tooth capability to sync with your cell phone. Within about 20 feet of the “base”, your cell phone was connected to the base (if your cell rang – you could answer it on a regular house phone!). Farther than 20 feet it became a cell phone again. It has been discontinued – not enough buyers to make it profitable! A shame! Mine died and there is no replacement.

  8. I think I have seen a couple cordless models that allow you to sync the cell phone to the base phone via BlueTooth last time I was at the BigYellowPrice Tag (aka B.B.) I don’t know if it was necessary to have a land line hooked up to them or not.

  9. The only way in which this would work is with the following possibilities:

    1. The phone supports WiFi. If it does, then technically you could write some sort of program on the phone that would control calls and then forward them to maybe your computer, or csome WiFi networked phone (which I don’t think are available yet). This method first of all assumes it’s possible to write programs on the phone capable of controlling the call, and second, that the computer or device will be able to interpret what is sent from the phone. The best phone options for doing this would probably be the iPhone, some of Nokia’s, Blackberry’s, and the new G1. How the program works varies from phone to phone, so this option would be very tricky to implement.

    2. The phone supports Bluetooth. In this situation, you could have a device that acts similarly to a bluetooth headset that can retrieve calls. The problem with this method is that the devices would have to be relatively close to the device. I’m not sure exactly how well the signal on bluetooth devices is, but I guess you could add a big antenna of some kind to improve the signal.

    3. A variation on #1 would to write an phone app that simply figures out when a call is coming in on the phone, and then send it across the network to the computer. Then, do some sort of location-based setup so that the program communicates where the phone is in the house. I’m not sure if GPS functionality would really help here, since GPS doesn’t give extremely precise locations.

    4. Go out and buy a dock that is in a central location of your house. Constantly remind yourself to put your phone back in the central location, and hopefully over time you will instinctively always know where your phone is.

    Hope this information helped! Option 4 is, obviously, the easiest out of the rest. It would be interesting to try #1. I might try it when I get a G1 =)

  10. Do a search for Motorola’s Home Link Cellular base station. Sometimes they are available on ebay.

    The HomeLink system uses bluetooth to know when your cell is at its home location and then can use an attached cordless phone within the home.


  11. I just tried to patent the concept of a mobile phone extension. However I was turned down because some guy from Taiwan patented the idea back in 1999. There is no current product that does this. There seems to be a growing demand for this product as more and more people seem to be getting rid of land line phones. As a part of my patent submission, I made a prototype using an old two line phone and tapping the serial bus with the two wire connections I tapped into a modified power charger cord on my LG cell phone. It works but it is not refined technology as the speaker sound is very weak. But I’m sure that it could be made better with a little developement money and time. Of coure we would have to pay royalties to the taiwanese guy, but I really want to bring this idea to market.

  12. For the past year I have been trying to get an answer from all the Manufacturers and Cell Phone Cos. Forget Base, Magic Jack, just give me two Sim Cards with same Tel. No. When a call is received if I have not answered the Phone after 6 (or whatever) times them my Wife, Partner, Shack job, etc. will answer the phone. If I answered and the call is for her then all I would have do is press #, * or whatever and her phone would ring and she could pick up. What is the problem? Can tell you – it would take a big bit out of Cell Phone Monthly charges for multiple lines. It is technologically possible but the Companies fear the bottom line.

  13. There is no tech reason why duplicate cell phones couldn’t exist. If one is in use, the other can’t be. Simple.

  14. GTE Mobilenet (long since gone years ago) used to allow multiple cells on the same number but it went away as soon as the push to digital came along. It was nice…

    But I digress. Simple answer now? Google Voice. Give you one number to direct to both your home phone and cell. You determine what hours (don’t ring my cell at night, just ring my landline, etc) and scenarios you’d like. I have mine set to ring both my desk and cell during the day for all calls. I have it set, also, for calls from my folks or my wife’s folks to come to my office, my cell, and her cell. But since she works during the day in a place where cells are taboo I have it set to NOT ring her cell during regular working hours.

    Flexible, free, and very cool. People ring your new number and get all the rest. And if you change carriers and can’t port your cell number for some reason, no biggie. You make the change on your end and people still keep dialing the Google Voice number (which hasn’t changed) and they still keep reaching you!

    Added bonus: voicemail transcription… free.

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