How does a cell phone booster work?

May 21, 2015 — by KEN PERKINS


poor cell phone reception solution

How A Cell Phone Signal Booster Works


If you are wondering, “Do cell phone boosters work at all?” that reaction is pretty common. Years ago there were scams that claimed to enhance cell phone reception but didn’t really do anything.

Nowadays in the U. S. and Canada, cell phone boosters must be certified by the respective federal government to work as claimed in overcoming poor cell phone reception or extending cellular range. In the U.S. it’s the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) that tests and certifies all cell boosters on the market. In Canada, Industry Canada (IC) is the responsible agency.

There are also lots of third party tests and video reviews of cell boosters out there. If you want, you can watch some of them by clicking on the links below.

Third party tests

Reviews, etc

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 useable 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. See the illustration at the top of this page.

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.

Much of the time mobile reception and coverage problems are caused by building materials that block RF signals. I’m talking about brick, steel, stone, low-emittance glass, concrete, metal roofing or siding, etc.

We’re typically inside, but the cell signal is outside
A cell booster system’s Antenna->Amplifier->Antenna design effectively bypasses obstructions as you can see in the illustration at the top of this page.

You can think of this process like it was describing an FM radio, which operates pretty much the same way. The antenna pulls in the radio signal, an amplifier then boosts that signal and it’s distributed by the speakers as sound waves that can be “consumed” by your ears.

One big difference in this comparison is that your cell phone transmits as well as receives a signal. When a cellular device transmits a signal back to the tower the booster system repeats the process described above in reverse order, once again bypassing the potential obstructions.

We humans have known how to transmit, receive and amplify RF signals for more than a century now. A cell phone signal booster might at first seem somewhat unfamiliar to you. But when you consider it, signal boosters are simply the evolution of communications technology.


Did you like this post? Find it helpful? Do you have questions about this topic? Please let us know how we’re doing by commenting below.


TAGS: cell phone signal booster, faq

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    Comments (7)

    Roderick Kehlenbeck on February 15, 2016 at 7:03 pm said:

    What is the cost of your product?

      Ken Perkins on February 17, 2016 at 8:05 pm said:

      Thanks for reading and commenting Roderick. How much a signal booster costs depends on the 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? Answering these questions will help narrow the booster model choices.

      A driver-only vehicle booster like the Drive 3G-S can be purchased online for well under $100. The Drive 4G-X that provides 4G LTE coverage for multiple simultaneous users and max uplink/downlink power for reliable connections at long distances from the nearest cell tower will likely cost a little over $400 online.

      A Home 3G indoor booster will cover up to 2 rooms with signal for about $200 purchased online. But if you need 4G LTE coverage for up to 7,500 square feet, the Connect 4G-X will retail online for around $800.

      You can view all weBoost Home & Office boosters here

      The Car/Truck/RV booster models are here

    carson miller on February 17, 2016 at 12:49 am said:

    how much. where?

      Ken Perkins on February 17, 2016 at 8:20 pm said:

      Thanks for commenting Carson. See the response above for price info. Shop for weBoost signal boosters at Amazon and Best Buy. Other retailers include,, and many more. You can use a shopping app to compare prices.

      If you’re in Canada, shop for weBoost cell boosters at Canadian Tire, Canada Computers and

      You can also click on the Find a Store feature at the top right corner of this blog page.

    Bernard Roszko on February 19, 2016 at 2:40 pm said:

    Be aware the cell towers can interfere with the outside antenna and that it can be very difficult to install the outside antenna so it is not overpowered by a nearby cell tower.

    Daniel Vázquez on April 6, 2016 at 8:29 pm said:

    Hello! We have problem with our signal. The weboost system has the four lights in green but the signal in my cell phone y very low.

    weBoost Technical Support on April 6, 2016 at 10:30 pm said:

    Bernard, thank you for commenting. There are chances of overload, in areas where towers are close by, but we can often troubleshoot through many of the situations by rotating the antenna, shielding the antenna from the overload, or relocating the antenna.

    Daniel, we are happy to troubleshoot the system with you to determine what might be happening. You can reach us M-F from 7AM-6PM Mountain Time and 8-5 Sat/Sun. You can reach us by phone ay 866-294-1660, or submit a ticket for online assistance here: