Everything About Our Cell Phone Signal Strength Meter.

Posted by on May 11, 2017

A cell phone signal meter is an essential tool when setting up a cell phone amplifier. Among many other benefits, it can help you identify the direction for the source of the cell signal. Watch the video to learn how to use a cell phone signal meter to find the level of cellular signal at a location or job site. This will help you throughout the remainder of the cell phone signal booster installation.

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In this post, we will show you how to use a signal meter. See the actual video to view the demonstration. A signal meter is an essential tool when setting up a cell phone amplifier. It can help you identify the direction for the source of the cell signal. It can also get the signal strengths for all carriers on voice and data. Neither of those would be possible using a cell phone or even a "smart" phone.

How to take a signal reading at a job site?

Assess the signal. When you get to a job site, you want to assess the signal for all carriers. Each carrier uses different channels within each frequency range. LTE, Cellular, PCS and AWS for different uses. The FCC divides up cellular frequency into bands or channels. Each carrier is allotted certain channels to operate on. Basically, LTE, 700 megahertz and AWS 2100 megahertz, are primarily used for 4G data with some exceptions for voice over LTE. Cellular and PCS or 800 and 1900 megahertz are exclusively voice and 3G data for all carriers.

Taking cell signal strength readings.

You want to take your readings in the locations where the donor antenna will be mounted. The goal is to determine how much signal will be available for the amplifier. Therefore, accurate signal strength reading at that location is critical.

Channel Power mode.

The best way to get an overall picture of the signal strength at a site is to put your signal meter into channel power mode. Press the power or multifunction button and hold for a few seconds to turn the signal meter on. If your screen doesn't look like the one shown in video, then you're not in channel power mode. Hold the multi-function button again for a few seconds to enter the menu. Press the select button to navigate to channel power. Then press, "Enter" at the top of your screen. You will see the frequency you are reading - either LTE cellular PCS, or AWS. Below this, you will see the signal strength there as a negative number. As well as numbers ranging from -110 to -140 along the bar.

The channel or band.

For each frequency, cycle through each channel by pressing the navigation buttons. Stay on each channel for 30 seconds to allow the meter to update. Do the same process on each frequency. Press the multifunction button to change frequencies. Then cycle through all bands and log the data using our handy chart.

Carrier issues and the FCC.

Once you have all the data logged, now you have a good understanding of the cell signal level at the job site. If the majority of your readings are better than -75 dB, then you have got a good strong signal to work with. If most of your readings are less than -75dB then, you will want to visit the FCC spectrum dashboard website. The FCC divides up cellular frequency into bands or channels. Each carrier is allotted certain channels to operate on. Finding out which channels each carrier uses will help you understand which carriers are experiencing problems at a site. You can then adjust your setup accordingly. To fix these issues, this chart shows the major cell carriers and which channels they are using. You can download this chart for your reference from the FCC spectrum dashboard website, http://reboot.fcc.gov/reform/systems/spectrum-dashboard

Use the map or enter your state and county manually in the boxes below the map. You will then see all the various carriers in that area and the bands and channels each is using. You can also apply various filters on the left of the screen to narrow down your results even more. For example, AT&T at a particular location is using band 12 in a 700 megahertz band and channel B in the PCS band. We know which band they are using by noting the frequency ranges used on the FCC website and cross referencing that with the chart we referenced earlier. This shows which frequency ranges fall under each band. Knowing this information is important as it allows you to compare signal meter readings to determine the signal strength of each carrier signal and site.

Adjusting your design to meet your site’s needs.

From there, you can adjust your amplifier and system design for the site specific needs. You can also use a signal meter as a director to locate the cell tower or fine-tune your donor antenna. Using the included antenna, you can stand in a location and circle around 360 degrees to find the direction of strongest signal. You can also attach the signal meter to the end of a cable coming from the donor antenna to get an even more accurate reading of the incoming signal level to the amplifier. This is very useful, especially in a weak signal environment. Doing this allows you to make adjustments to the positioning of the donor antenna and see the result instantaneously. This allows you to find the best signal strength possible coming into the amp. From that point, you have your basis for calculating your coverage area that you can expect for each carrier. You can also choose the placement of your donor antenna and the orientation accordingly.

RF Noise.

The signal reader will measure all RF energy in an area. It won't differentiate between cell signal and any RF noise that you might be experiencing. Many pieces of equipment like AC units, transformers and AC outlets can emit RF noise. If it is strong enough, the signal meter will pick this noise up and display it on screen. You might therefore believe that you have a strong cellular signal. If you notice that you have a strong incoming signal level across multiple channels on the signal meter at a location but you're unable to place a call, or the signal on your phone shows up weak, then this is most likely what is happening.

For more information on cell phone signal meters, see the actual video provided above or contact us and we will be glad to help. If you require professional installation by a certified cell phone signal booster installer, please submit location details and we will gladly provide a system design and quote for equipment and/or installation. Thank you very much.

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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