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Overview of Cell Phone Signal Boosters, Repeaters, and Extenders

Posted by on Jan 27, 2016

Cell phone signal booster, repeater, extender

Minimize your risk for dropped calls and weak signals with a cell phone booster. There is no denying that cellphones have replaced the landline phone. NBC reported that the cell phone has surpassed the landline for home phones in a recent report from Brian Williams. And with projected sales of cellphones having an increase of 19% minimum over the next few years, it is quite likely that the problems associated with cell phones will continue to be present as well, primarily in regards to the reception and signal strength. Where an abundance of cell phones is great for the market, the reality is that so many phones on a network can hinder the strength of the signal.

How do other cellphones cause signal hindrances?

Towers are allowed a certain number of channels in which to operate. In most cases the tower has several channels that can handle a number of calls. For example: if each channel can support 40 calls and there are 30 channels then, in theory, there can only be 12000 simultaneous calls conducted from that tower. Add to this the power distribution, frequency factors, and such technical specifications and you can see how the signal can be dropped or weakened.

What else can cause a low signal/ dropped signal?

Usually a cellphone has a weak signal due to one of the following reasons:

• Obstacles within the home or office block the signal strength.
• Exterior Foliage blocks the signal.
• Proximity to the tower.
• The structure of the building hinders the signal strength.
• Exterior manmade elements such as other buildings.
• Non-identified network connections.
• Out dated phones (try to update your phone and network settings if possible).

Where you can manipulate some of these problems (for example you can move furniture), there are many factors that cannot be altered such as buildings, forests, and the building structure. After you have tried to boost the signal by removing obstructions then consider using a cell phone booster, repeater, or extender to amplify your signal.

What is a Cell Phone Booster?

As the name would suggest, a cell phone booster boosts a signal. And while using the term in the definition causes it to be a bit ambiguous, the simplicity of the function does not need to be complicated with a drawn out explanation.

How does a cell phone booster, repeater, or extender work?

Technically, a cell phone booster works by taking an existing signal and processing and multiplying that signal within the booster in order to amplify the signal and give you a better reception. The best way to visualize this is to think of water flowing through a hose. Typically, a garden hose may be used to provide the water, and while this gives you a constant stream, it is not nearly powerful enough to put out a fire. For that optimizing the water flow through a firehose is needed. The same principle can be applied to the cell phone booster. The signal already exists and in most cases you could make a call, but for all practical purposes and for the functionality needed, an optimization of the signal (getting more of an amplified signal) is needed. To do this the cell phone booster:

• Identifies existing frequencies and signals within a certain proximity.
• Calculates and determines the strongest signal.
• Couples and/or amplifies weaker signals to the dominant signal to amplify the reception.
• Transmits the signal through the device back to the Cell-phone.

What a cell phone booster cannot do

Cell Phone boosters are not a hack for cell phone services. You are still going to need to have access to a network and their towers. Boosters cannot make a signal either; the devices only amplify what already exists. There may be situations in which there is no signal available in which case a booster would be in effective (as it cannot amplify a signal that does not exist). A cell phone booster does not increase the internet functions on the phone. There may be the ability to access your network easier with the boost of the signal, but the cellphone is not having the internet capabilities boosted. Do not expect wi-fi devices to be effected. Should you need to boost your internet consider purchasing a Wi-Fi booster, repeater, or extender.

The basic types of Cell Phone Boosters, extenders, and repeaters

Cell phone boosters, extenders, and repeaters all work in essentially the same way. There are a few variations depending on the brand and the specific need that you may have. Typically, there are three classes of signal amplifiers available from which tangents and other products are created.

Mounted Signal Boosters

Mounted Cell Phone Signal Boosters are used for residential or commercial properties where there is a weak signal. The device antenna should be fixed at the location where the cell phone signal is strongest. To determine this, walk around the base of the building both in the interior and exterior and locate the best position. Antenna booster should be mounted at this location and cabled into receiving rooms (if mounted on the interior - some boosters are mounted inside, facing outside). If mounting a signal amplifying antenna on exterior of a building, keep in mind the structural components of the building which may cause a disturbance in the signal. For example: If you are mounting on concrete there may be little to no effect in the boosted signal. It is best to try to mount a cell phone booster on a high pole or pointing towards nearest cell tower if it is a directional antenna (Yagi).

Mobile Mounted Boosters

The interior of a vehicle can cause a weakened signal. Where the new technologies and Wi-Fi connectivity options may be available, a network signal may not be present. This is especially true in vehicles which are engineered to keep out external noise, have a steel frame (which most do), or have a great deal of electronic frequencies already present in the car. Mobile Mounted Boosters come in the form of an antenna and can attach to the vehicle by bolting through roof or trunk, or through magnetic mounting in most cases. Since the vehicle is in a constant state of motion, the device works by continuously scanning and updating the strongest signals. As such, users should be aware that they may need to update the settings and preferences within their phone to allow for automatic disconnect and reconnecting to the network. Users should also be aware that such disconnects and reconnects may play negatively towards the data usage of the cell phone. Check with your service provider for the specifics. Mobile mounted cell phone boosting devices should also take into account the height of the antenna and if that antenna will come in contact with other structures when mobile (such as bridges, driveways, carports, car washes, etc.). When possible, look for an antenna that can be removed when needed to avoid damage to the vehicle or the cell phone booster.

Cell Phone Booster apps and direct plug ins

One of the quick fixes, but certainly not the most recommended form of boosting your signal, is to download and install a cell phone boosting application. Much like the physical hardware, the app works by scanning and boosting a signal based upon those signals which are available. Where this is problematic is that (1) the cell phone user must have a strong enough signal to download and then access the app. If such a signal existed then the need for the amplifier would be a bit redundant. (2) Verification and security may be a bit shady.

If using a cell phone booster app, ensure that the source is verified and meets the regulations and requirements set forth by the FCC. Never download an app that requires your network user name and password as cell phone boosters do not require this information. Yes, you will have to have that information on your phone and may indirectly (but only in respects to the normal functionality of the phone) have to access such information, but in terms of an app obtaining and using personal information, be warned.

Typical Components to a cell phone booster

Where there may be a bit of variation based upon brands and models, the cell phone booster, receiver, or extender should have at minimum:

• Power source hookup (this can be either a plug or direct power connector).
• A receiver.
• An antenna.
• A coax cable.
• Mounting equipment.

Equipment considerations

Exterior and interior antennas should be placed atleast 6 feet apart in most cases. When possible keep the space between interior antenna and the receiver/amplifier clear. If you have a wi-fi booster or another signal boosting device, it is advised that you place the cell phone booster away from this device to avoid crossing the frequencies. Never use a coax cable splitter on multiple devices as this will weaken the signal and potentially fry your booster.

In regards to the coax cable, there are several different varieties which can weaken the signal booster if improperly coupled. When possible, use a short coax cable of a high quality to maximize the potential for a strong signal. The longer the cable, the more chances arise for the signal and connection to the signal booster to be disrupted or reduced.

What you need to know BEFORE you purchase a cell phone booster.

There are a few considerations which should be taken into account before your purchase a cell phone booster, repeater, or extender. Primarily, you want to ensure that the amplifier that you are purchasing is specifically catered to the device and functional purpose you have. For example: If you have poor reception when outdoors in your RV, then an RV Cell Phone booster would be the best option. A person that has a mobile office (such as a construction foreman) would benefit from a magnetic or mounted mobile cell phone booster. However, for a home office or residence, a plug and mount unit may be the best solution. Determine your primary need and look for the device that best addresses that need.

In addition to the functionality of the device, you will need to ensure that the cell phone signal amplifier that you choose is made for your device. 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G cell phone boosters typically only work within that associated network. In other words if you have a 5G phone and you purchase a 3G cell phone booster, it will more than likely not work as the two devices are not compatible. Check to see (1) that your phone is compatible with the device (2) that the device is compatible with your network. All of our boosters are backward compatible so we recommend purchasing our 4G boosters because they will work with LTE as well as 2G voice and 3G data networks of all cellular providers all across USA and Canada.

Debunking the myth

There is a misconception and a myth going around about the legality of the cell phone boosters. Cell phone boosters are legal as long as they meet the FCC regulations below:

• At this time, the FCC likely will not pursue enforcement against current or prospective signal booster users unless it involves an instance of unresolved interference. If a wireless licensee or the FCC asks you to turn off your signal booster because it is causing interference to a wireless network, however, you must turn off your booster and leave it off until the interference problem can be resolved. Please refer to the FCC contact information below should you have any questions during such a request.

• Signal boosters with additional safeguards that comply with new rules and minimize interference to wireless networks are available for sale at our website. The FCC intends to work collaboratively with signal booster manufacturers to allow new boosters to come to market by certifying them.

• Consumers are required to register signal boosters with their wireless providers. Providers have activated their registration system on or before March 1, 2014 and do notify subscribers at least 90 days before registration is required.

-From the Consumer Report/ Fcc.Gov

The main thing to pay attention to, is the last point in which the FCC mandates that those who own a cell phone booster register that booster with their current cell phone service provider. In truth, this does limit the number of available boosters which are accepted by the networks, but it also ensures that the towers will not go down due to a poorly manufactured product. If you are concerned about whether or not a cell phone booster is compliant with a particular carrier, please visit our cell booster by carrier page to search for a cell phone booster by specified service providers.

When purchasing a signal booster, check the specifications of the device to see if it meets your local requirements. Avoid any products which do not cater to the carrier frequencies, does not have data pertaining to meeting the FCC and manufacturing standards, or homemade boosters.

Why you should never purchase homemade or second hand boosters

Buying a cell phone booster should never include second hand or homemade boosters. Homemade boosters do not meet the network criteria and are therefore illegal to use in most cases. Using such a device could result in heavy fines, especially if your device causes the network/ tower to become inoperable. Second had cell phone boosters should also be avoided unless the product has been tested and documentation is present to ensure that it meets network criteria and that the parts associated with the booster are that of the original packaging. In most cases, it is advised to purchase a new product to ensure that the coax cable has not been damaged, that the interior electronic components have not been damaged, and that the product you are purchasing is the product that you will actually receive.

Do you still have questions? We have answers

While it is our intention to have provided you with a great deal of information on cell phone boosters, repeaters, and extenders in this article, we understand that you may have questions. There are several devices out there and each has its own set of pros and cons, specifications and functions. Should you have any questions about the cell phone boosters available on our site, or if you have any general inquiries about cell phone boosters, please let us know. We are here to help you find the best product to meet your needs by offering truthful, factual, and up to date information so that you can make an informed decision.

Questions? Call us for a FREE product recommendation or try our automated Cell Phone Signal Booster Selector Tool. Need a cell phone booster installer? We offer installation services by a certified installing team that installs boosters nationwide across USA and Canada. Submit location details for cell phone signal booster system design & installation quote to have your amplifier kit installed by professionals.

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