Cell Phone Signal Booster FAQs

Nicholas Jones | February 26, 2019

Below we answer frequently asked questions about cell phone signal boosters.

Click on the question below to see the answer.

Q. Why can’t I get a cell signal? or Why is my cell phone reception so bad?

Q. What can I do right now to improve my cell reception?

Q. Is there a solution that can improve my cell phone reception?

Q. How does a cell signal booster work?

Q. Will a cell phone booster work on my phone and carrier?

Q. Do weBoost signal boosters work with 4G LTE and 5G?

Q. Do I need an Internet connection?

Q. Do I need a cell signal booster? or Would a cell signal booster work for my situation?

Q. What is gain?

Q. How much does a cell phone signal booster cost?

Q. Is there a monthly subscription fee to use a cell phone booster?

Q. How long does it take to install a cell phone booster?

Q. How do I know where my carrier’s nearest cell tower is?

 

Q. Why can’t I get a cell signal? or Why is my cell phone reception so bad?

A. There are really only 2 culprits that cause cell phone reception problems: distance and obstructions. Distance everyone understands. If your phone is too far from the cell tower, then the signal will be weak or maybe undetectable.

Obstructions are not so well understood. Below is a list of the most common signal blockers:

  • Terrain – Cell signal operates in line-of-sight fashion. Any terrain features between you and the cell tower – hills, mountains, ridges, bluffs, etc. – will block cell signals.
  • Man-made obstructions – In urban settings, buildings are the main blockers of cell signals. Radio frequency (RF) signals can’t easily pass through metal, concrete or oxide-coated glass. So when you are inside almost any building, you can have reception problems.
  • Vehicles – Metal and safety glass, the materials making up the outer shell of most vehicles, do an excellent job of blocking RF signals. When you’re inside a vehicle, it may be hard to get a good signal.
  • Vegetation – I know, right? It’s hard to believe, but trees, shrubbery, or almost any kind of foliage absorbs cell signals. Here’s the kicker – even dust particles in the atmosphere can weaken RF signals.

To learn more about this topic, watch this short video.

Or see our blog post at https://blog.weboost.com/news/blog/why-do-i-have-such-poor-cell-phone-reception/

 

Q. What can I do right now to improve my cell reception?

A. Read below for our best tips on how to get better cell reception fast.

  • Stop Moving – When you are stationary, your phone and the network don’t have to constantly adjust for your changing location.
  • Change Your Location – At home, try different rooms to see if you get better reception. In the workplace, move to the other side of the office or into the hallway.
  • Find a window – Building materials tend to obstruct cellular signals, and glass may allow signal to pass through more readily than, say, concrete walls or a metal roof.
  • Get higher – Obstructions between you and the tower can weaken the signal. By increasing your elevation you reduce the chance of obstructions, so go to the top floor of your home or office building.
  • Go outside – Anything between you and the tower can degrade your reception. Exiting the building will immediately reduce potential obstructions.
  • Use a mobile service map tool – You can download apps or find websites that show you the precise locations in your area of cell towers for the various carriers. When you know where your carrier’s nearest tower is, you can take steps to reduce potential obstructions between you and the tower.
  • Use these tips in combination – The more of these you can use together, the better your chances of improving cell reception.
  • Consider a technological solution – If nothing else works, you may have to employ some tech to improve your cell coverage. Options include a femtocell (sometimes called a microcell), Wi-Fi calling or a cell signal booster.

 

Q. Is there a solution that can improve my cell phone reception?

A. Yes, depending on your situation you may have several options.

  • A femtocell is a device that works with your broadband Internet connection to enhance cell phone coverage by creating a cell signal source, a “micro” cell site, inside your home or other interior space.
  • Wi-Fi calling also uses your broadband connection at home or in the workplace, but doesn’t require special equipment like a femtocell.
  • A cell phone signal booster works by detecting the cell signal outside a building, bringing it inside and amplifying it, and then rebroadcasting the amplified signal to the interior space so your phone or can use it.

These technologies all have different pros and cons that all solve the issue of poor cell reception. Some may work better depending on your unique situation!

 

Q. How does a cell signal booster work?

A. How cell phone boosters work is pretty simple. All the complexity operates behind the scenes to make them operate transparently and efficiently.

Mobile phones are really two-way radios. Your cell phone, at least the communications function, is essentially a two-way radio operating behind a very modern user interface. Your mobile phone communicates with the cell tower by means of radio frequency (RF) signals.

A cellular signal booster works like this:

  • Detecting and collecting very faint signals (much fainter than your phone can detect)
  • Helping those faint signal bypass various obstructions
  • Amplifying the faint signals to a usable level
  • Broadcasting the amplified signals to an interior space so they can be used by your phone or other cellular device

When your phone transmits a signal back to the tower, the process is repeated in reverse order.

A cell signal booster system comprises just three basic components, and coax cables to connect those components.

1) First is the outside (or tower-side) antenna. This antenna, mounted on the roof or an exterior wall, communicates with the cell tower. Signals are passed along coax cable to the second component . . .

2) . . . the booster unit mounted in a utility closet or storage space. This unit amplifies the signal and passes it along another length of coax cable to . . .

3) . . . the inside (or device-side) antenna mounted on an interior wall or on the ceiling which distributes the amplified signal to the interior space where cellular devices can use it.

 

Q. Will a cell phone booster work on my phone and carrier?

A. Yes, weBoost cell signal boosters boost voice and data signals on all North American cell carrier networks and on all cellular-enabled devices, including phones, tablets and cell modems.

 

Q. Do weBoost signal boosters work with 4G LTE and 5G?

A. Yes, weBoost cell phone signal boosters enhance 4G LTE and 5G signals.

 

Q. Do I need an Internet connection?

A. No, an Internet connection is not required. A cell phone booster works by amplifying the available cell signal into your vehicle or home.

 

Q. Do I need a cell signal booster and would it work for me?

A. There’s a relatively simple exercise to determine if a cell phone booster can help you get better reception and stronger signal in your home, office or other interior space. Ask yourself these questions:

1) When I am inside, do I have problems with dropped calls or lost connections, poor call audio quality, or texts, emails and voicemails that show up in my in-box hours after they were sent?

2) When I go outside, do the problems identified above seem to go away? Is it easier to keep connections or complete calls? Does the audio quality of my calls improve? Can I download files to my phone faster than when I’m indoors?

If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions, a cell signal booster can probably bring better signal coverage into your home, office or other building.

If you’re still not sure a cell phone booster can help, talk with a weBoost Customer Service agent. This service is free. By going through a few questions with you an agent can quickly determine if a signal booster can help.

You can reach weBoost Customer Service by phone at 1-866-294-1660, or type a question in the search here https://www.weboost.com/support. Hours are Monday – Friday 8 am – 9 pm Eastern, and Saturday – Sunday 10 am – 7 pm Eastern.

 

Q. What is gain?

A. Gain is simply the measure of a booster’s or antenna’s signal output relative to its signal input. Gain is usually expressed in decibels (dB), a standard unit of measure for signal strength.

If a booster provides a maximum 50 dB gain, then the boosted signal coming out of the unit is up to 50 dB stronger than the unboosted signal that went into the unit.

In a practical terms, gain represents the relative level of signal boost that a booster and/or antenna is capable of providing. All other factors being equal, a booster with a higher gain value will provide a stronger signal and/or a larger coverage area than one with a lower gain value.

 

Q. How much does a cell phone signal booster cost?

A. It depends on the cell signal booster model you need.

  • Is it for a vehicle, or for an indoor space like your home or office?
  • If for a vehicle, does the signal need to be boosted for the driver only, or for passengers also?
  • If for an indoor space, how many square feet of signal coverage do you need?

Our most affordable cell signal booster for cars is the Drive Sleek at $199.99, which strengthens one user’s cell phone data and voice connection with weBoost’s latest cradle booster.

The Drive 4G-X is an affordable booster that is great for RVs, trucks and vans at a cost of $479.99 . It provides coverage for multiple simultaneous users and max uplink/downlink power for reliable connections at long distances from the nearest cell tower.

A great signal booster for value is a Home 4G indoor booster that will cover up to 2 rooms (1,500 sq ft) with signal for about $399.99. But if you need cell coverage for up to 7,500 square feet, the Connect 4G-X will retail for $899.99.

 

Q. Is there a monthly subscription fee to use a cell phone booster?

No, there is never a monthly subscription fee. Each weBoost cell signal booster is a one-time purchase.

 

Q. How long does it take to install a cell phone booster?

A. Bottom line: it depends. Generally speaking, vehicle cell signal boosters can be installed faster than indoor boosters. Installation of the weBoost Drive 4G-M or Drive 4G-X might take between 10 and 20 minutes and the Connect RV 65 or Drive 4G-X RV slightly longer.

A simple installation of the Home 4G indoor booster might require 10 – 15 minutes, and for the Connect 4G you would need to allow more time. Obviously if the building requires a more complex installation, like multiple device-side antennas or pulling coax cable through an attic or crawl space, the job may take 2 or 3 hours.

 

Q. How do I know where my carrier’s nearest cell tower is?

Watch this short video to learn more or check out this article on how to find the nearest cell tower.