What is a cell phone signal booster?
A cell signal booster does just what it sounds like – it boosts voice and data signals so you have fewer dropped calls or lost connections and you get faster data uploads and downloads. There are cell phone boosters for vehicles and for indoor spaces like your home and office.
Most signal boosters have three components, plus coax cable to connect the components. The components are:
– tower antenna – usually mounted on the roof of a vehicle, or the roof or side of a building. This antenna communicates with the cell tower. It can detect cell signals at levels up to 30 times fainter than the faintest signals your phone can detect
– booster unit – this component amplifies cell signals
– device antenna – this antenna is installed indoors or inside your vehicle and communicates with your phone or other cellular devices in your vehicle, home or office.
Connect 4G-X cell signal booster. Booster unit, front; device panel antenna, center; directional tower antenna, right. Also pictured, coax cables.
What a cell phone signal booster is not
– It’s not a source of cell signal. A cell phone booster amplifies and redistributes existing signal. That means a signal booster must have an existing signal to work with. If there is absolutely no detectable signal in a location, a cell booster will not work there.
– A signal booster does not require an Internet connection. As explained in the previous bullet, a signal booster works with existing cell signals. It does not need an Internet connection to work.
– A cell phone booster does not require “pairing” or “syncing” with any phone or other device in order to work with that device. The booster simply boosts signals and makes them available to any cell device within range.
Do cell phone boosters actually work?
Yes they do. Cell phone signals are carried by radio frequency (RF) waves, in the same way as terrestrial radio signals. Consider the FM radio in a car. Those signals are collected by the antenna, amplified and retransmitted inside the vehicle so you can enjoy music, sporting events or talk show programming.
Cell phone signals operate on a different part of the RF spectrum. But a cell signal booster uses similar technology to collect, amplify and retransmit signals inside your vehicle, home or other indoor space allowing you to enjoy on your cellular devices the voice and data traffic the signals carry.
To be sold in the U.S., signal boosters must be certified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In Canada the certifying body is Industry Canada (IC). These government certifications are assurance for consumers that (a) cell signal boosters work as they are supposed to, and (b) that they don’t cause harmful interference on the cellular network.
Make sure any booster you purchase is FCC or IC certified. That’s your proof the booster works as promised. To learn more about this topic, read weBoost’ blog post Do Cell Phone Boosters Actually Work?
Different types of cell signal boosters
Cell phone boosters fall into two main categories:
Many cell signal boosters are universal – they work with all carriers, with all services and with all cell devices. Other boosters may work for only one specific carrier (like Verizon only), or work on one (or perhaps two) specific frequency bands, boosting all carriers that use that frequency or frequencies.
Boosters may also be identified by the generations of technology they support – like 3G and 4G. A booster identified as 3G typically will boost signals on both 2G and 3G networks. A 4G booster typically boosts signals on 2G, 3G and 4G networks
Still other boosters are hybrids, for example boosting all carriers’ 2G and 3G services but only one specific carrier’s 4G services. Before purchasing a cell signal booster, make sure it will work for the signals, network(s) and carrier(s) you need to have boosted. See the Frequency Bands section below.
Signal boosters typically allow multiple simultaneous connections across multiple carriers, but some vehicle boosters like the Drive 4G-S below, may provide boosted signals for the driver only.
No recurring fees
Unless an ongoing maintenance plan is specifically purchased, a cell phone booster is a one-time expense with no recurring fees.
Why you have trouble getting a reliable cell signal
There are really only two culprits that cause cell phone reception problems: distance and obstructions. Everyone understands distance – if your phone is too far from the cell tower, then the signal will be weak or perhaps undetectable.
Obstructions are not so well understood. Below is a list of the most common signal blockers:
– Terrain – cell signal operates in line-of-sight fashion. Any terrain features between you and the cell tower – hills, mountains, ridges, bluffs, etc. – will block cell signals.
– Man-made objects – in urban settings, buildings are the main blockers of cell signals. Radio frequency (RF) signals can’t easily pass through metal, concrete or oxide-coated glass. So when you are inside almost any building, you can have reception problems. Or conversely if you are outside and surrounded by tall buildings, like on the street in an urban city center location, cell reception can be spotty.
– Vehicles – metal and safety glass, the materials making up the outer shell of most vehicles do an excellent job of blocking RF signals. When you’re inside a vehicle, it may be hard to get a good signal.
– Vegetation – I know, right? It’s hard to believe, but trees, shrubbery, or almost any kind of foliage absorbs cell signals. Here’s the kicker – even dust particles in the atmosphere(!) can weaken RF signals.
To learn more about this topic, read our blog post Why Do I Have Such Poor Cell Phone Reception? You can also watch this short video.
How Cell Phone Signal Boosters Work
Mobile phones are really two-way radios. Your cell phone, at least the communications function, is essentially a two-way radio operating behind a modern user interface. Your mobile phone communicates with the cell tower by means of radio frequency (RF) signals.
A cellular signal booster works like this:
– detecting and collecting very faint cell signals (much fainter than your phone can detect)
– helping those faint signal bypass various obstructions
– amplifying the faint signals to a useable level
– broadcasting the amplified signals to an interior space – like your home, office or vehicle – so they can be picked up by your phone or other cellular device
When you use your phone, the process works in reverse to send amplified signals back to the cell tower to complete the communication loop.
Call Clarity Technologies Group, LLC at 800-354-4160 today. We are partnered internationally around the globe and we are open seven days a week 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM EST/EDT.
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