How to Boost Cell Phone Signal and Improve Reception

How to boost cell phone signal and improve reception

There are few things more frustrating than hitting a dead zone or losing a call. Struggling to get a signal can be, at best, a waste of time, but it’s even worse when there's a serious problem and you need to get in contact with someone. Thankfully, cell phone signal boosters can help you solve the problem of how to boost cell phone signal.

Why Is my Signal So Bad?

There are a few common culprits that cause weak or poor signal, including:

  • Obstacles in-between you and your nearest cell phone tower:  Things like large buildings, tall trees, and mountains can often block or absorb your signal.
  • Construction materials in your office, building, or vehicle:  Concrete, steel, and sheet metal, amongst other things, can often obstruct, weaken or even completely block signal. The outside walls of a home, office or building can block signal from getting inside, but inside walls, floors, and furniture, can also interfere with signal, resulting in better signal in one room than another.
  • Distance from your nearest cell phone tower:  Being far away from the nearest cell tower will result in weaker signal.
  • Weather:  Rain, snow and any other moisture in the air can impact cell signal.

Thankfully, even if your signal is weak, a cell phone booster can give you strong, reliable reception.

How To Boost Cell Phone Signal With a Signal Booster

How a cell phone signal booster works to boost cell phone signal

Cell signal boosters, sometimes also called cell phone repeaters, are the solution for how to boost cell phone signal by extending and amplifying existing signal so that you get better reception.

An antenna mounted outside receives the cell signal from a nearby cell tower, and then passes that signal to an amplifier inside the building or vehicle that needs better reception. The amplifier boosts the cell signal up significantly, and then passes it to one, or many, inside antennas. Each antenna broadcasts the boosted signal to the local area for better cell reception.

When you make a phone call, the signal from your phone is received by one of the inside antennas and sent through the system in reverse, resulting your call being amplified and broadcast to the nearby cell towers in a much stronger manner than if you were just using your cell phone.

The signal in the area does not have to be perfect for a booster to improve your reception. Signal boosters will generally work as long as there is any amount of signal in the location where you place the outside antenna. If you can stand next to the outside antenna and make a phone call, then the signal is strong enough for a signal booster to boost cell phone signal.

And the best part is that, after you buy the signal booster kit, there are no monthly contracts or fees.

One thing to note is that a cell phone signal booster cannot create it's own signal. In order to boost cell phone signal, it needs a small amount of existing signal to start with. If there is absolutely no outside signal in your location, then a signal booster will not work for you.

There are two main types of cell phone signal boosters:

Building Signal Boosters

Cell signal boosters for home or office are used when your location stays the same, like when you're in a building. They are more powerful, so they have a better chance of broadcasting signal through walls and obstacles in the way. Some building cell signal boosters are designed to improve reception in a small to medium size spaces, up to 2,500 square feet, like the weBoost 470103 Connect 4G, while others can handle much larger spaces, up to 7,500 square feet, like the weBoost 471104 Connect 4G-X or the Wilson Pro 70, depending on how strong the outside signal is and the design of the building.

Finally, for even larger areas, there are enterprise level signal boosters that can be used to maximize coverage, and custom signal booster systems can be professionally designed using multiple amplifiers, higher grade components, and a network of inside antennas, to cover areas up to 500,000 sq ft.

Vehicle Signal Boosters

Cell phone signal boosters for cars, RVs, or boats solve the biggest problem with driving in rural areas, which is the cell signal from your phone getting back to the distant cell towers. Our vehicle signal boosters amplify that cell signal many times over, and broadcast it significantly further, in order to solve this problem. The weBoost Drive 4G-X is the most powerful vehicle signal booster on the market, and can extend your distance from local cell towers by miles, to minimize or eliminate dead zones. They are also designed to handle your changing location as you are driving or sailing. Finally, they are designed to minimize the signal feedback that you would experience if you used a home or office booster in your vehicle.

What are the Important Components of a Cell Phone Signal Booster?

Cell phone signal booster amplifiers

A cell phone booster has three main parts that function together to boost cell phone signal:

External Antenna

Also called the outside antenna, this is the antenna that actually picks up the existing signal and then also send your phone’s signal backed to the cell tower. Usually this is placed outside in an elevated location that  has the strongest cell signal. Often, this is on the rooftop of your home or office building. Sometimes with entry-level cell signal boosters, the “external” antenna can be placed inside a window.

For building boosters, the typical outside antennas are as follows:

  • Yagi Directional Antenna - a directional outside antenna that is the stronger of the two types of outside antennas. Is used to target cell towers in the direction that it's pointed and will maximize inside coverage. Best for weak outside signals.
  • Omnidirectional (Omni) Antenna - sends and receives in all directions, so the weaker of the two antenna types, but it allows you to target all of the cell towers in all directions. Best for stronger outside signals with cell towers from different carriers in opposite directions.

For most vehicle signal boosters, the external antenna attaches to the roof of your car or truck with a magnetic base. For RVs and marine crafts (boats, ships, etc.) the outside antenna is permanently mounted as high as possible to avoid obstacles.

The external antenna is connected to a cable that takes the signal to the amplifier.

Signal Amplifier

Sometimes also called the signal booster, this is what strengthens the existing signal.

There are different boosting levels for signal amplifiers. For homes and offices, there is entry level for one room spaces, medium for small to medium sized homes and offices, and large for very large spaces, homes, or buildings that require a very large coverage area inside.

For vehicle signal boosters, federal regulations cap the amount of boosting power to avoid them impacting mobile devices in other vehicles or nearby cell towers as you're in motion.

Pretty much all of our boosters will amplify all major cellular carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Sprint, at the same time, so you do not have to worry about selecting a booster based on your carrier.

Internal Antenna

Also called the inside antenna, this is the antenna that broadcasts the boosted signal to the area inside your home, office or vehicle that requires better signal, and interacts with the mobile devices when they are making a call or sending data.

For building boosters, the typical inside antenna types are as follows:

  • Panel Antenna - best for long, narrow spaces or boosting downward through multiple floors.
  • Dome Antenna - best for boosting signal on the same floor. Mounts directly to a drop ceiling panel.

For vehicle boosters, the antenna is typically smaller and can be mounted with velcro and adhesive. Large vehicle installations may use building inside antennas to maximize inside coverage.

How Do I Choose the Right Cell Signal Booster?

There are three important things to consider when choosing a cell signal booster:

  • The amount of coverage you need:  Different signal boosters cover different size spaces. The Wilson Pro 70, for example, covers spaces up to 7,500 sq ft, with a strong outside signal. It is a good option if you are looking to provide signal for a whole house or office, but would be too much power for a single room.
  • Whether you need 3G or 4G:  In the past, some people chose whether to purchase a booster for just 2G and 3G, or for 2G, 3G and 4G LTE, but these days, everyone should be purchasing a 4G booster. All modern phones use the new 4G LTE networks for voice and data, so purchasing a 3G booster will most likely not solve your cell phone signal problems.
  • How many people will be using their phones at the same time:  While this doesn’t matter as much for building cell phone signal boosters, it does matter when deciding on a vehicle cell phone signal booster. Some models, like the weBoost Drive Sleek, are designed for only one phone at a time, while others are designed to handle multiple phone calls simultaneously.

The easiest way to determine the right booster for you is to use our product wizard to help you narrow down to the right options for you, or contact us for assistance from one of our signal booster experts.

Unless you have an oddly-shaped building or an extremely large space, most all-in-one kits should work for you. These all-in-one kits are tested so that the parts always work with each other. A cell antenna specialist can evaluate your situation and make sure you get the best combination of equipment. You’ll get better reception, with the network you want, where you need it.

If you have any questions about how to boost cell phone signal and whether a signal booster is right for you, please do not hesitate to contact us at support@wilsonsignalbooster.com or call us at 1-888-974-8237. We’d love to help you find a solution.