Cell Signal Site Survey for Booster: What, Why, How?

Posted by on August 31, 2016

Learn what is a cell phone signal booster site survey? Why is it very important? How to conduct it? In the age of smartphones, it has become vitally important to be able to use our cell phones wherever we go. But, as many people discover, the quality of the cell signal can vary a lot between locations, from indoors to outdoors, and possibly even from room to room. That is why it is so important to perform a site survey before installing a cell phone signal booster.

This article explains what a Site Survey is, why it is important, and how a Site Survey is conducted. The information given here will be very useful to professional installers of cell phone boosters.

Cell phone signal booster site survey

What Is a Site Survey?

A Site Survey is the preparatory work done prior to the installation of a cell signal booster. This survey can accurately determine the source of the strongest cell signal, thus enabling providers to determine where the new donor antenna (or exterior antenna) should be installed.

A Site Survey can save an installer a lot of time by accurately preparing them for the installation of a cell signal booster. Plus, if you’re aware of existing cell signals and the layout of the building, you will be better prepared to discuss with your customers the reason as to why they are losing their calls. Furthermore, you will be better prepared with plans to fix the problem.

The Site Survey indicates areas within the building which show the weakest and strongest signals. This tells an installer which are the most effective installation points for indoor antennas. They will also have a clear idea of the amount of cable required. They will know about the filters, splitters, and/or other accessories that will be needed.

A Site Survey gives the customer an accurate representation of their existing signal coverage, together with any anticipated problem areas. A Site Survey is the perfect tool for starting a dialogue with the customer about product options and installation solutions.

Checking Signal Strength Using a Signal Detector.

As you’re probably aware, you can use your phone in test mode to check cell signal strength; but this is not the most efficient way of performing a site survey. This data is not always accurate, and there can be a delay in updating signal information on cell phones.

The only way to complete an accurate site survey is to use a Signal Meter. A Signal Detector or Meter is a professional handheld device capable of detecting and displaying the following with total certainty - signal frequency, bandwidth, and strength.

This means you don’t need to wait for accurate signal readings because the Signal Meter updates the data in real time. You can test for any carrier as the Signal Meter reads signal levels for all frequency ranges and bands, which ensures that everyone within the building gets a signal that works well. This is so important when working in a commercial setting.

Performing a Site Survey for Booster Installation.

Before arriving at the location, you should look at the floor plan and familiarize yourself with the site. This will be of a great help to you when you arrive on-site. Check the floor plan and consider the square footage of the structure. This information helps you determine how many antennas you will need, where to place them, and which antennas to use.

Prior to commencing the Site Survey, make sure you understand the broadcast patterns of various antennas. From the floor plan you’ll also be able to determine the number of amplifiers you’d need, in addition to the number of splitters, the length of cable, and any other accessories. If you can’t access the building’s floor plan, either draw it digitally on a tablet or sketch out your own on a piece of paper.

Now you’re on-site and ready to get started. Start your site survey on the roof. Using a notepad and your Signal Meter, walk around each side of the building, taking notes of the signal reading on each side. Each time, carefully record the readings for all channels and frequencies.

Slowly swivel 360° once you have located the best signal, and use your Signal Meter to locate the source of the signal. Once you have located it, note the direction it came from. Now you have the direction of your nearest cell tower, plus the right direction for aiming the donor antenna.

While you’re on the roof, check to locate an entry point for the interior cable. Look for any existing conduits or nearby vents: You may need to drill a hole for the cable access if you can’t locate any.

Mount the Donor Antenna.

If at all possible, the donor antenna should be mounted to an existing post or rooftop vent pipe; however, you’ll need to create a mounting point if there’s none available. You can use a Mounting Kit to attach a donor antenna to the eaves; or alternatively, you may need to create and install your own mount. This will depend on the direction of the signal and the design of the rooftop.

Assessing Signal Strength inside a Building.

Next, make an assessment of the strength of the signal from inside the building: Do this by walking between various rooms and make a note of the level of the signal in each room – always keeping an awareness that signal strength can vary a lot within large rooms.

Next, you need to mark your floor plan showing the areas of signal weakness and strength: This information will enable you to design your antenna layout. As you’re inspecting the building, determine which building materials form the construction, because we know that different materials can affect the signal’s range and performance.

For example, concrete walls can completely block a signal, while drywall will show less of an effect on signal strength. It’s this information that will help you determine how many broadcast antennas you will need, and where they should be positioned.

Determining the Installation of Broadcast Antennas.

When you’re determining where the broadcast antenna should be installed, you need to consider whether a ceiling mount or wall mount would work best in the building. You should also ask your customer if they would rather have the antennas be completely hidden from view. In order to maximize the booster system’s efficiency, you need to consider the antennas coverage areas, limitations, and strengths.

Locating the Booster.

Boosters, which are also known as Amplifiers, need access to both power and adequate ventilation. Boosters can be permanently mounted to a wall, or placed on a server rack or shelf; but this will depend on the model.

Calculating Cable Lengths.

Now you need to calculate the cable lengths required for each run, remembering to use no more than needed between each component. Shorter cable runs = less signal loss = a stronger indoor signal!

In Conclusion.

Completing a Site Survey is the first step in completing a quality and accurate cell signal booster installation. Make sure you allow adequate time to properly review the floor plan, examine the building itself prior to commencing the installation, and to test the incoming signal. Being properly prepared will ensure that you’re able to answer all your customer's questions, and thus produce a long-lasting solution.

Questions? Call us for a FREE product recommendation. Need a cell phone booster installer? We offer installation services by a certified installing team that installs boosters nationwide across USA and Canada. Submit your details for a quote to have your amplifier kit installed by professionals.

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