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Meaning of Downlink & Uplink Power in Cell Phone Signal Boosters

Mar 31, 2020

Meaning of Downlink & Uplink Power in Cell Phone Signal Boosters

A very common question business customers ask when looking for reliable cellular connectivity concerns uplink and downlink. What do these terms mean, and are they important when selecting the ideal signal boosting solution for your specific needs?

Uplink (also referred to as upload) and downlink (also referred to as download) describe the two-way interaction between your phone and other cellular devices, and a cell tower. Uplink refers to the signal leaving your device and returning to the cell tower, while downlink refers to the signal coming to your device from the cell tower.

All cellular devices, including smartphones and tablets, work within 3G, 4G, 5G RF (radio frequencies). Intermittent or weak cellular signal can interrupt a user's ability to talk, send emails, text messages, stream videos, and more. An only way to ensure that you're able to achieve the strong and reliable signal you need is to install a cell phone signal booster; one that can reach cell towers far away due to its strong uplink and downlink power. The result will be great signal coverage in large commercial buildings.

How Does a Cell Phone Signal Booster Help?

A cell phone signal booster has been specifically designed to amplify the intermittent or weak cellular signal inside your building, reducing or even eliminating dropped calls and delivering faster data speeds.

Most mobile users have experienced conversations on cell phones where we can clearly hear what the other person is saying but, frustratingly, they can't hear us - or other way around. This issue of poor or interrupted signal is caused by a disruption in uplink or downlink in cellular communication. Years ago, 3G cellular signal was a combination of two uplink and downlink frequency bands, namely 850 MHz and 1900 MHz. One band was for talking (uplinking) and the other was for listening (downlinking). Let us now take a look at how this technology works.

How a Cellular Signal Booster Works.

How a Cellular Signal Booster Works

If, in the past, you have had no use for a cellular signal booster, you may not be familiar with the term, or perhaps you have always wondered what a signal booster is and what it does. If you're tired of experiencing dropped or interrupted calls and slow data speeds, you need to understand that you don't have to put up with this any longer. A cellular signal booster, also known as a cellular signal amplifier, has been specifically designed to improve cellular connectivity in homes, office buildings, large warehouses, homes, and indeed any type of building. They even work in vehicles and boats.

A powerful antenna from the cellular signal booster is used to collect, then amplify, cellular signal from nearby towers. This signal is then broadcast to your mobile phone or other devices with SIM card inside them to connect them to a mobile network. There are three components of a cellular signal booster as follows:

  1. Outside or external antenna: This antenna collects the signal from a cell tower and pulls it into your building or vehicle.
  2. Amplifier, or booster: It is this amplifier that boosts the cell signal received by external antenna.
  3. Inside antenna: This antenna broadcasts the boosted signal to your phone, or other cellular device with paid-service SIM card in it (monthly plan or prepaid).

Signal boosting technology ensures that your cellular-enabled devices like your smartphone and tablet stay connected, which is especially important in areas where cellular signal is typically obstructed or weak.

How Uplink and Downlink Power Affects Your Cellular Service.

On all North American carriers, cellular signal strength is measured in dB (decibels), ranging between -50 dB and -120 dB. -50 dB represents full bars (the best signal) while -120 dB represents no bars or a dead zone (the weakest signal). When the signal strength is somewhere between -90 dB and -100 dB you will experience poor cellular reception. You may be able to achieve signal at this level, but the reception will be poor. Because cell signal dBs are measured exponentially, an increase of +3 dB would represent an increase of two times the power, whereas -3 dB would represent half the power.

Decibels Amplified Power
+1 1.3 Times
+3 2 Times
+6 4 Times
+10 10 Times
+20 100 Times


It is important to note, though, that cellular phone coverage differs for all users for a number of reasons including cell tower locations, carrier capabilities, outside interference, and many other factors.

Why Are Uplink and Downlink Power on a Cellular Signal Booster Affected?

Radio-frequency signals are used by cell towers to communicate with cellular devices. However, there're certain factors that can (and commonly do) interfere with signal transmission, thus disrupting uplink and downlink speeds. These factors may include the following:

  • The Distance from Your Cell Tower: It is very difficult for your cell phone to communicate with a cell tower when you're too far away. There're many online resources to help you locate the nearest cell tower in your area.
  • Physical Barriers: Barriers like tall buildings, mountains, trees and thick vegetation standing between you, and your cell tower are all obstacles that can significantly reduce the strength of your cell signal.
  • Construction Materials: Construction materials like energy-efficient glass, insulation, brick, steel, and concrete are all signal blockers; preventing signal from both entering and leaving buildings and resulting in dropped calls and slow data speeds.
  • Severe Weather Conditions: Rain, heavy snow, fog, and other severe weather conditions can dramatically affect cellular signal reception, causing dropped calls and disrupting upload and download speeds.

All above factors can significantly affect the strength and quality of cellular signal between cell towers and your smartphone or other devices. This means that even though you may be located quite close to a tower, it is still possible to experience poor cell service.

How Does Improved Uplink and Downlink Help?

Legally, commercial cellular signal boosters that are FCC-approved are restricted to +70 dB of maximum gain. This theoretically adds a massive boost to signal coverage and strength. Enterprise boosters are also capable of boosting up to +70 dB. However, for most users, results typically range between +3 dB to +42 dB gain, resulting in a minimum of two-times amplified 4G and 3G signal. This improved signal ensures that uplinks and downlinks are more powerful, delivering amazing benefits of greater coverage and faster Internet data speeds.

See below for an example of just some of Wilson Pro's bestselling in-building cellular signal boosters:

WilsonPro Enterprise 4300 Wall-Mount & 4300R Rack-Mount Boosters.

WilsonPro Enterprise 4300 and Enterprise 4300R

Both of these products are commercial grade in-building cellular signal boosters designed specifically to cover up to 100,000 ft² in large commercial buildings, including offices and warehouses. Enterprise 4300R is a rack-mounted version of the Enterprise 4300. These two signal boosters are compatible with all Canadian and United States carrier networks and work with all smartphones and cell-enabled devices. With both the Enterprise 4300 and Enterprise 4300R you will get the foll.:

  • Up to +70 dB maximum gain.
  • Up to 17 dBm in downlink power and up to 26 dBm in uplink power.
  • 3x outdoor antenna ports for targeting multiple carrier towers.
  • 4x indoor antenna ports, independently controlled.

WilsonPro Enterprise 4300 uplink and downlink power output:

WilsonPro Enterprise 4300 uplink and downlink power output:

WilsonPro Enterprise 1300 and Enterprise 1300R.

Both of these products are commercial grade signal boosters designed specifically for small to medium-sized office buildings, warehouses and commercial areas up to 40,000 ft². Similar to the Enterprise 4300 and Enterprise 4300R, they work on all carriers with all smartphones and cellular devices. With both the Enterprise 1300 and Enterprise 1300R you will get:

  • Up to +70 dB maximum gain.
  • Up to 17 dBm downlink output and up to 26 dBm uplink output.
  • 3x outdoor antenna ports for targeting multiple carrier towers.
  • Expansion kits are available for extending the coverage range.

WilsonPro Enterprise 1300 uplink and downlink power output:

WilsonPro Enterprise 1300 uplink and downlink power output

The Difference between Above Two Boosters.

The Enterprise 4300/4300R and Enterprise 1300/1300R in-building cellular signal boosters are both available in rack-mounted and wall-mounted models. They all provide a maximum of 17 dBm downlink output. The main difference, however, lies in uplink power.

Enterprise 4300 with its coverage of up to 100,000 ft² is 2.11 times more powerful than the Enterprise 1300 with its coverage of up to 40,000 ft². This is an average difference of +3.24 dB - almost over twice the coverage.

Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Vehicles.

Many people struggle to achieve strong and reliable cellular signal while driving in their vehicles, so if this is a problem you're experiencing you must check out the weBoost Drive X and weBoost Drive Reach in-vehicle cellular signal phone boosters. These signal boosters for vehicles are a game-changer for those who struggle to stay connected while out on the road. With a weBoost signal booster in your vehicle you will always feel safe and connected. The most popular entry-level cellular signal boosters for vehicles are:

weBoost Drive X Signal Booster for Vehicles.

Designed specifically for vehicles, the Drive X features a convenient tool-free installation. This is weBoost's standard entry-level cell phone signal booster for vehicles that replaces the earlier version called weBoost Drive 4G-M (470108 / 470121). Mounting easily on your car, the standard car Drive X features a four-inch magnetic antenna. With the weBoost Drive X signal booster mounted on your vehicle, you will have:

  • Booster gain of +50 dB.
  • Easy installation in just a few minutes.
  • This booster supports multiple users and multiple devices.

weBoost Drive X uplink and downlink power output:

weBoost Drive X uplink and downlink power output

weBoost Drive Reach Signal Booster for Vehicles.

This is weBoost's most powerful cellular signal booster for vehicles, delivering the strongest and most reliable cellular coverage while out on the road. This signal booster reaches cell towers far away, especially those in rural or remote areas where signal is weak. It replaces the earlier version called weBoost Drive 4G-X (470510). With the weBoost Drive Reach signal booster mounted on your vehicle, you will have:

  • Booster gain of +50 dB.
  • The weBoost Drive Reach signal booster can reach cell towers up to 74% further away than the weBoost Drive X signal booster.
  • Uplink downlink power of 5 dBm.
  • This booster supports multiple users on multiple devices.

weBoost Drive Reach uplink and downlink power output:

weBoost Drive Reach uplink and downlink power output

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  • The explanations of downlink and uplink give me a solid footing when it comes to understanding what’s going on with my cell phone, especially if I’m having problems with making a call. The dB (decibel) explanation was somewhat more complicated, but I think I understand it now. It’s good I paid attention in math class.

    Kelly Weitzel on
  • What I’ve been amazed with is how my booster is working in parts of my house that I thought had NO HOPE. My basement and a spare bedroom really are getting strong signals. It’s impressive.

    Melody H on
  • When it comes to cell phone boosters, I think the ones for my car are going to be the most helpful. I can deal with a bad signal at home (which isn’t always a problem and I have a landline), but when I’m in a car, I don’t have the option of going to a payphone (I can’t remember the last time I saw one besides at an airport).

    The Midnight Rider on
  • Uplink and downlink huh? It kinda makes sense now why I can hear people, but they can’t hear me. I hate it when that happens. I have a good phone and I hate it when people say “Your phone is bad.” It’s not always the phone genius. It could be a case of a bad uplink rather than the phone itself. I wish more people knew how cell phones work so they wouldn’t be so ignorant.

    William Patterson on
  • If you browse this site’s blogs, you’ll see some blogs about how decibels are the real measure of your cell phone’s signal power. I couldn’t agree more and this information on how uplink and downlink completes the ensemble (if you will) when it comes to figuring out why your phone is working well or not.

    Craig Rhodes on
  • Downlink and uplink? I didn’t know about these terms or what they meant. What I do know is that I’m tired of lousy cell phone calls. I just purchased a new phone and people still have trouble hearing me. It may be time to get a booster because I don’t think it’s the phone, I think it’s something interfering with the signal.

    Will Rios on

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