If your cell phone booster isn’t working, there are usually two main issues at play: an overload or an oscillation problem. Cell boosters are designed to work in rural and urban areas and should significantly improve your experience with 2G, 3G or 4G LTE networks.
If yours isn’t working, there’s no need to despair — it’s usually a simple fix to get the loading times, call quality and connection speed on your phone back up to usable levels. Read on to find out exactly how a cell signal boosting device works, and learn how to troubleshoot for the two primary problems that could be affecting your signal strength.
What Is a Signal Booster?
Cell phone signal boosters are growing in popularity as smartphones become increasingly indispensable in daily life. Modern phones load webpages, apps, emails and YouTube videos among many other processor-intensive tasks, and as a result, many people who live in rural areas have been investing in a cell phone booster so they can use their phones to their full potential. The use of cell phone boosters has also expanded into urban areas as cities and larger suburbs become even more densely populated.
While an affordable device that improves the speed of your phone’s cellular network speed might sound too good to be true, the technology is certified to boost your existing 2G, 3G and 4G LTE networks, and cell phone boosters that are 5G-ready are also available. Cell phone boosters work to improve weak cell signal and call quality and provide faster data speeds.
If you find that your signal is great outside of your home or vehicle, but it’s weak inside, a cell signal booster is the answer. You can eliminate slow data speeds, dropped phone calls and unsent text messages without the need to connect to Wi-Fi, switch carriers or have endless arguments with your current service provider.
How Does a Signal Booster Work?
A signal extender works by drawing in the weak signal from outdoors and boosting it by rebroadcasting the improved signal to the desired areas. In some cases, a signal amplifier works in reverse, where it receives the signal from your cell and transmits it back to the tower.
Cell phone boosters fall into two primary categories:
- Vehicle cell boosters: These boosters are ideal for cars, RVs, trucks, SUVs, fleet vehicles and boats.
- In-building cell signal booster: This type of booster is ideal for a home setting or any other property that requires a signal boost.
A cell booster only works if there is an existing signal outside of your property. They improve the signal rather than creating it from scratch. The majority of signal extender kits include these three components:
- Indoor antenna: This rebroadcasts the enhanced signal within your home or vehicle
- Amplifier: Boosts the signal itself
- External antenna: An external antenna captures the weak cell phone signal from outside
How to Fix Cell Phone Booster Overload
If there is more than one service provider with a super strong outdoor signal, it can overload the amplifier. This causes an immediate reduction in boosting power. Although this might correct itself, there’s a strong chance it’ll max out before this happens. Even if it does resolve on its own, it’ll potentially lead to a continuous state of dropping off and recalibrating.
There are three steps to fixing an overloaded cell signal booster:
1. Adjust the Outdoor Antenna
If you’re using a directional antenna, incrementally move the outdoor antenna so it receives slightly less signal. Stop each time to check for overload warnings and assess the status of everyone’s signal strength. When you find the sweet spot, the amplifier will work at full capacity to evenly distribute the signal.
2. Try an Attenuator
If you’re in an unfortunate location, such as one where you’re surrounded by multiple towers at close range, an attenuator might be the perfect solution to improving your signal strength. This accessory decreases decibels from the incoming signal by simply resting on your antenna cable.
Although an attenuator will prevent signal from cutting out as a result of overload, it may still result in reduced cell signal across all carriers and bands. As such, anyone with weak cell signal will also lose signal strength.
3. Switch the Amplifier
The last resort should be switching to an amplifier that can handle a more powerful signal. They vary in price significantly, but if you’re in a particularly difficult location or have an especially weak signal, you may want to consider spending a little more to ensure you maximize your signal strength.
How to Fix an Oscillation Issue
Sometimes, when you broadcast a boosted signal from interior antennas, it reaches the exterior antenna. The result is a feedback loop, which can cause your signal strength to get worse or drop out entirely. This is because the cell booster tries to resolve the problem by lessening boosting output on the affected band. In turn, this weakens the coverage area to stop the signal from transmitting to the exterior antenna.
In some instances, you might see a warning that indicates oscillation in the amplifier. This tells you that the antenna hasn’t been able to resolve the problem independently.
You can try the following steps to try and resolve this issue:
1. Check the Directional Antenna
Your directional antenna must be facing away from the building itself. If it’s pointed inwards towards the roof, there’s a strong chance that it’s picking up on ambient signals radiating from inside the property.
2. Move the Interior and Exterior Antennas
Attempt to reposition the exterior and interior antennas so they’re further apart. Always make sure you switch off the power to the amplifier before trying to move the antennas. The optimal solution is to move the antennas further away, but you can also position them so they’re higher up — provided they still offer ideal signal strength.
Bear in mind that separating the antennas vertically is usually more effective than doing so horizontally, although both options are advantageous. Once you’ve made the necessary adjustments, switch the amplifier’s power back on and check if there’s still an oscillation issue. If so, it’s worth trying a few different positions for the antennas.
3. Shield the Exterior Antenna
If you’ve tried every possible position for the antennas and still aren’t having any luck, try shielding the exterior antenna. This involves moving it to a spot where you align it with a large object such as an air conditioning unit or chimney. The idea is to put a significant mass between the antenna and the rest of your property.
In case you have to place your exterior antenna indoors, you can shield it with something made from metal, such as aluminum foil or a filing cabinet. If you wanted to block the signal, you’d place it behind the interior antenna.
Boosting Signal for Multiple Carriers
If you need to boost signal strength for more than one carrier with similar strength, your amplifier should be able to resolve the oscillation issue independently. There might be occasional blips where the signal strength seems to vary between carriers, but this is usually just because the amplifier is working to resolve the problem.
Get Help with Your Cell Phone Booster
If you need more help with troubleshooting your cell booster, check out our handy guide or give us a call at (866) 294-1660. weBoost has the resources and expertise to make sure you get the most out of your phone signal at all times.