What is a ​Cell Phone Signal Booster and How Does It Work?

Posted by on July 29, 2015

A cell phone signal booster is a kit that is capable of boosting cellular signals for improved reception. There are some that boost cell phone signal inside homes and some that boost signal vehicles.  Some cell phone signal boosters even extend range within both home and cars or trucks.

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Within establishments and structures such as homes and buildings, an outside antenna communicates with the tower. It draws signal from the cellular tower. It then relays it to the booster unit which amplifies that signal received from external antenna. Inside antenna communicates with cellular devices within the building. Without a booster system, the radio frequency signal could well be blocked by construction materials. Such blockages make it difficult for mobile transmissions to reach interior of homes and buildings. Cell signal boosters also work very well inside vehicles.

People often wonder whether cell phone boosters actually work at all. That question is quite common, and a good question to ask. It is true that years ago, there were scams out there claiming to enhance cell phone reception but failing to achieve anything at all. An example of such was a piece of plastic sticker with embedded colorful golden circuitry to be stuck between the phone and its battery. They did not amplify coverage range. Today, however, in both the United States and Canada, all signal boosters must receive certification from each Federal Government to operate as claimed. They must actually extend cellular range and resolve poor cell-phone reception issues. In USA, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is responsible for testing and certifying all cell boosters available to the public. In Canada it is Industry Canada (IC) that handles this responsibility.

How a cell phone booster works is actually quite simple. In fact, all the complexity operates behind the scenes, enabling them to operate transparently and effectively.

A mobile phone is really a two-way radio. This means that the communications function of your cell phone is essentially a two-way radio operating within a very modern user interface. Basically, your mobile phone uses radio frequency signals to communicate with the cell tower.

Here’s a brief outline on how a cellular signal booster operates:

  • It is capable of detecting and picking up very faint signals - a lot less than your mobile phone is capable of detecting;
  • It helps those faint signals bypass, or side-step, various obstructions;
  • It then amplifies those faint signals to a usable level;
  • The amplified signals are broadcast to an interior, enabling them to be used by either your phone or other cellular device such as a tablet;
  • When your phone transmits a signal to the tower, this process is repeated in reverse order.

There are three basic components to a cell signal booster system, plus the coaxial cables that connect these components.

  • The first component is the tower side, or outside, antenna. When mounted on an exterior wall, or roof, this antenna communicates with the cell tower. Signals are passed through the coaxial cable to the next component, which is...
  • The booster unit. This is mounted in a storage space or utility closet. It amplifies the signal and then passes it along another length of coaxial cable, to...
  • The device side, or inside antenna, which is mounted on the ceiling or interior wall. This distributes the amplified signal to the interior area where cellular devices are able to use it.

A lot of the coverage problems and mobile reception issues are caused by building materials that effectively block radio frequency signals. By this we mean steel, brick, concrete, stone, low-emittance glass, metal roofing or siding, and so on. Typically, we humans are inside buildings, but the cell signal is outside. Therefore, the cell booster system's, " antenna-amplifier-antenna" design is able to effectively bypass obstructions.

Think of this process as describing an FM radio, because it operates almost the same way. An antenna pulls in the radio signal. The amplifier boosts that signal. That signal transmission is distributed by the speakers as sound waves to be "consumed" by your ears. Perhaps the big difference in this comparison is that your cell phone both transmits and receives a signal. When your cellular device transmits a signal back to the tower, the booster system repeats the process, as described above, in reverse order. Thus, once again, bypassing any potential obstructions.

It has been more than a century that humans have known how to transmit, receive, and amplify radio frequency signals. At first a cell phone signal booster may seem somewhat unfamiliar to you, but when you actually consider it, signal boosters are just the evolution of communications technology.

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