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​Using technology to increase signal strength

Posted by on May 16, 2015

Using technology to boost signal strength

There is one solution for limited or poor cell-phone reception that works pretty-much all the time, and that is technology. And by technology, we’re not saying that the three options for improved cellular reception that we will discuss in this post will all work equally well in your own specific circumstance.

Similar to our last post where we offered simple non-tech tips for improving cell-phone reception, the following tech options work, but they are not all ideal for every situation. Therefore, how will you know which is your best option? We will go through each tech option, and from this information we hope you will easily be able to determine your best solution.

The three options available are:

  • A Femtocell (otherwise known as a Microcell)
  • Wi-Fi Calling; and

Each option has its advantages, but also drawbacks - Let us examine them.

The Femtocell / Microcell

If you have terrible cell reception your carrier might offer you a Femtocell at a reduced cost, but it could still cost around $150 - Or maybe more. The Femtocell works in conjunction with your broadband internet connection: It creates a cell signal source to improve your cell-phone coverage by creating a base station, or micro cell site, within your home or other interior area. Data and voice traffic move across your carrier’s network and are delivered via Internet to the Femtocell. Now your phone can communicate directly with the Femtocell - Within a range of approximately 50 feet.

A residential Femtocell will normally support 4 or 5 mobile devices, while business models will support at least a dozen. There is a drawback though: Because you must have a broadband connection in order to use the Femtocell, it means that when you’re using your cell-phone you’re also using your Internet bandwidth.

A Femtocell will only work with your own carrier, plus your phone has to be synched, or paired, with the Femtocell so you can access the microsite signal. This means that co-workers, family members and room-mates who use other service providers, or have un-synched devices, will not be able to benefit from your increased cell service.

Another disadvantage is that the microcell cannot "hand off" data / voice traffic like a mobile network does, so if you move beyond the Femtocell range, you lose service. This means that while you’re downloading, or on a call, your mobile phone must remain within range until your download or call is finished.

In addition (and this depends on your carrier’s subsidy) a Femtocell can be quite expensive: you could be charged a monthly service fee on top of your cell account for the Femtocell use.

Wi-Fi Calling

Wi-Fi calling works really well for some cell-phone users, and could certainly be a workable option for you. Wi-Fi Calling also uses your broadband connection, either in the home or office, but you don’t need special equipment (like the Femtocell). However, your service provider must support Wi-Fi Calling (not all carriers do), plus your phone model must support phone-calls over Wi-Fi. Some of the newer phone models do, but older phones don’t support this service. Have a look at our previous post on Wi-Fi Calling: You may learn more about how to use Wi-Fi Calling to improve limited cellular coverage.

Cellular Signal Booster (Cell Phone Signal Booster)

And finally, the Cell Phone Signal Booster detects the cell signal outside the home or office building: It brings the signal inside and amplifies it, then re-broadcasts the amplified signal to your interior area for use by your phone and other devices. This results in a strong, more reliable reception inside buildings. Please see our  how boosters work page for a more detailed explanation.

To help you understand how it works, compare this process with an FM radio, because they operate in a similar fashion. The radio signal is collected by an antenna; the signal is boosted by an amplifier, and then speakers distribute the sound waves. The cell phone signal booster works the same way but, in addition, it boosts the signal in both directions. When a signal from a cellular device is transmitted back to the tower, the process described above is repeated by the booster system in reverse order; meaning that an inside antenna collects the signal from your mobile device, the signal is amplified, then the amplified signal is sent back to the cell tower via the outside antenna.

A lot of cell phone signal boosters are universal: They work with all cellular devices and with all carriers, and this includes advanced services such as 4G LTE. No synching of devices is necessary because the signal boosters work on specific radio frequencies, the same as your smartphone. There has to be a signal available to amplify because a signal booster does not create a cell signal, however, typically, boosters have really sensitive receivers, able to detect signals at a very low level – way below the signal threshold of a smartphone.

There will be no recurring fees or charges on your monthly bill because a cell phone signal booster is a one-time equipment purchase. Note that the FCC requires US users to report their signal booster (via an online registration system) to their cell carrier, and provided you comply, you won’t be prevented from installing a booster.

There are many situations where a cell phone signal booster would be your best option for improving cell phone reception in indoor areas.

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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