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What is a Mi-Fi Signal Booster and How Does it Work?

Jun 20, 2018

What is a Mi-Fi Signal Booster and How Does it Work?

In today's connected world, we feel lost and frustrated if we're anywhere where there is none or poor cellphone signal. While it is likely that you use signal boosters at home or at work when the signal is less than optimal, this still leaves you with the scenario where you might want to create a portable network. The portable mobile network we will be referring to here, is the one created by a device called Mi-Fi. If you're not sure about the subtle differences between Mi-Fi and Wi-Fi, please read our previous blog post titled, The Difference Between Mi-Fi and Wi-Fi.

A Mi-Fi has a SIM card in it with subscription from a cell carrier consisting of a wireless data plan to provide wireless transfer service using the mobile network. A MiFi signal booster improves reception to this device so that all wireless devices that are connected to its personal hotspot coverage range can get fast mobile Internet access through the MiFi device. When we refer to a hotspot device, it is the same as referring to a Mi-Fi because MiFi is essentially a hotspot device.

There're a number of mobile hotspot devices available that use cellular signals & data (3G & 4G LTE) to create a personal WiFi that you can use for your cell phone, tablet, and laptop. These devices are sometimes referred to, as "Mi-Fi". They come in many shapes and sizes and are called by various names coined by the cell service provider providing service to it. Such names include Mifi, Jetpack, Cradlepoint router, AirCard, USB internet stick, or mobile WiFi. Despite the wide variety of names, they all essentially use the same technology. They all have a SIM card which has data service plan from one of the cellular carriers.

What does Mi-Fi Booster consist of?

MiFi Boosters or Hotspot Boosters are also known as signal boosters or repeaters. These devices strengthen the signal delivered from your Hotspot or WiFi device to improve connectivity on all the devices that are linked to it.

Hotspot Boosters consist of three components - an outside antenna, an amplifier and an inside antenna. These components work together as follows:

  1. An outside antenna takes weak signals from outside and feeds them to the signal amplifier.
  2. A signal amplifier strengthens that signal up to 32 times and delivers it to the inside antenna.
  3. That inside antenna broadcasts the amplified signal to your hotspot device or Mi-Fi.

How Does MiFi Signal Booster Work?

Hotspot boosters or Mi-Fi boosters work exactly the same as a cellular amplifier except that the signals they amplify strengthens the signal on your hotspot device (also called Mifi). This in turn improves connectivity and data speeds on all the devices connected to it: be it a tablet, a laptop, or a smartphone. This is the only difference between a hotspot booster and a regular cellular amplifier. Both devices are also only as good as the cellular signal it receives.

Do I need a MiFi Booster?

Perfect cellular signals only exist in a perfect world and we have all encountered situations where the cellular signals are poor, be it indoors or while on-the-go. Some of the most common reasons for poor signal strength on your devices are listed below:

  • Geographic features such as mountains, ridges and trees result in spotty signals in rural and isolated areas.
  • The distance you're away from the nearest mobile tower determines how strong a signal you will receive. If you happen to be far away from the tower, your signal will be weak and your internet speeds will be slow.
  • Structural components including metal bars, window glass, and concrete can diminish signal strength in a building even if the cellular tower is very close by. One way to check if this is the case is to hold your hotspot device or phone near an opening as close to the direction of the cellular tower as possible. This is however not a permanent solution.

If you have a MiFi device ("MiFi" where "M" stands for "Mobile" - the mobile version of traditional broadband "WiFi" where "W" stands for "Wireless") and you suffer from poor signal strength, one solution would be to use an external magnet mount antenna. This antenna will extend and complement the much smaller and less powerful antenna built into your mobile hot-spot device.

Which MiFi Signal Booster is right for me?

There're many different type of hotspot boosters:

  • If you need a direct-connect antenna booster to connect directly to your mobile modem antenna port, the Signal 4G would work as long as you can place the antenna in an area with a strong signal within a few feet from your device. This antenna signal booster works great for Machine to Machine (M2M) applications. Examples include vending machines, ATM's, etc. that have weak signal inside the machine where the wireless router is located, but good signal outside on top of the machine where the magnetic antenna can be placed.
  • If you need to boost MiFi cellular signals within a large building on an industrial scale, the Force-5 2.0 is the one stop solution to cater for multiple hotspots scattered within the building up to a range of 25K to 100K sq. ft.
  • On a smaller, yet commercial scale - the Fusion 5X boosts speed of all voice & data on cell phones and mobile hotspots, or cellular routers within areas up to 20,000 square feet.
  • On a smaller consumer scale, the Fusion 5s consumer grade signal booster is the perfect choice to meet the needs of an entire home or a small building spanning up to 7000 sq. ft.
  • If you're just looking to boost cellular modem signals for a single office, a small home office, or even a small room or an apartment, you need not look further than the Fusion4Home, perfect for serving limited areas up to 4000 sq. ft.
  • For on-the-go solutions, a single device cradle booster such as the FusionTrek will solve your boosting problems. The cradle booster can however only handle a single cell phone, or MiFi cell modem in your car. For group travels with multiple devices being used in the same vehicle, you need to use the wireless in-vehicle signal booster. This wireless signal booster caters for multiple devices such as laptops, tablets, and cell phones simultaneously.
  • For RV travel in rural and remote areas with very poor and spotty signal strengths, the Fusion2Go 3.0 RV with improved cellular tower reach capacity will do the job. With its large omni-directional antenna, it works very well for a larger moving area such as an RV or a truck and it will reach cellular towers much farther away than other hotspot boosters in this category.

Alternative to MiFi Booster: Passive External Antenna to Boost Signal.

Attaching a non-powered premium external antenna to the hotspot is an easy way to boost mobile MiFi (WiFi) signals in your vicinity. Unlike AC or DC powered signal boosters, connecting one of our vehicle exterior antennas to your mobile hotspot does not require registration with your cellular service provider.

Most mobile routers, hotspots, or MiFi units come standard with an external antenna port. Simply connect an external antenna cable originating from that exterior antenna to the antenna port on your hotspot/ mifi device. Depending on the connector of your hotspot antenna port, you may be able to connect the antenna directly to your hotspot device. This will be possible if the antenna has the same connector (SMA, TNC, N or Mini-UHF) crimped into its cable as what the port on your hotspot allows. If you choose an external antenna with a cable that does not have a connector that is compatible to your hotspot antenna port, you can purchase a screw-on adapter to make it compatible.

If an external antenna does not boost the MiFi (WiFi) signal strength enough, a DC or AC hotspot booster is the way to go. These are much more powerful than a non-powered external antenna solution.

Pro-Tips.

  1. When boosting signals in buildings, place the MiFi device as close to the indoor antenna as possible for maximum signal strength.
  2. When boosting signals in cars, locate both the hotspot and the booster at the center of your vehicle to ensure maximum coverage for all the devices inside.

Conclusion.

Irrespective of which one of the devices described above you choose, all of these hotspot boosters are designed to support all major carrier Hotspots or Mifis, including AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. These devices also need no connection to a landline internet in order to work. Simply install the booster in an appropriate location within the building or your vehicle, and you're good to go!


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3 comments

  • Are hot spots getting popular? I would think they are if there are Mi-Fi signal boosters or no one would be manufacturing them. A hotspot signal booster makes me wonder how reliable hot spots are. I wouldn’t want to buy a hot spot if they’re so unreliable I need a Mi-Fi booster. However, I could see someone getting a Wi-Fi hotspot signal booster if they were a digital nomad and wanted a reliable and secure connection for doing their work when they’re in remote areas.

    Kevin Mulligan on
  • Hi-Fi, Wi-Fi and Mi-Fi. Whew. What’s an old-school person to do? Well, really not much as I discovered everything I need to know about cell phone boosters, Wi-Fi boosters, and Mi-Fi boosters browsing through the blogs here. I’ve known about cell phone signal boosters for some time now and how they take a poor signal and boost it so you can enjoy better audio quality, less dropped, calls, longer battery life for your phone, and quicker download speeds. As Mi-Fi has grown, I think people’s needs have increased as they have with cell phones. As the blog says, in a perfect world you’d have a perfect signal. However, we know the world is imperfect which is why there are devices like interior cell phone signal boosters and Mi-Fi signal boosters to make things right.

    Chrissie Powers on
  • A nephew asked me how do I boost my mobile hotspot signal? He’s thinking about getting a mobile hotspot but was concerned what would happen if he had poor signal quality. I explained to him how things like building materials, weather, and other electronics can interfere with signal quality, reducing it or sometimes creating dead zones. I told him he should consider a hotspot signal booster and explained there are many products out there such as WeBoost hotspot signal boosters and Verizon MiFi signal boosters. I’ll let you know if he gets it and how it works for him.

    Jerry Conners on

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