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What is a Cell Phone Signal Booster and How Does It Work?

Cell Phone Signal Booster or Amplifier or Repeater

cell phone signal booster (also known as amplifier or repeater) is made up of three main elements - exterior antenna, amplifier, and interior antenna. They form a system to boost cell reception. Other optional components include the Attenuator (reduces unwanted frequency signals), Lightning Surge Protector, Splitter and Tap.

A cell phone reception booster is generally a repeater system that involves the amplifier adding gain or power to the reception in various directions. Even for a cheap cell phone signal booster, maximum gain differs by application. The work of an outside antenna is to both receive and transmit signal to a cellular tower with enhanced power and sensitivity. Usually the dB gain is never below 7 dB and can be over 10 dB gain. The system's elements conduit is the coaxial cable. It is also a factor in transmission loss.

The main aim of the cellular phone signal booster is taking the existing cell phone signal around your car, office, workstation or home and amplifying it. After amplification, the signal is rebroadcasted to the area with no reception or weak signal. Apart from consisting of an amplifier to boost the reception, external antenna and internal antenna, there're cell phone boosters with indoor antenna and amplifier as a single unit making them superb indoor cell phone signal boosters. In most cases the three components are detached.

How a cell phone reception booster works.

This concept becomes very easy to understand if you would watch the following short one minute video:


A Sprint cell phone signal booster and repeaters for other carriers come into use in places where the cell phone reception is weak. The strength of the cell phone signal is usually affected by diverse obstructions. This includes natural obstructions like trees, construction materials in buildings and hills as well as distance. This is where the reception booster system comes in. Note that the mobile signal of a cellular phone refers to the strength of the signal that is calculated in dBm that a cellular network sends to the mobile phone.

Firstly, the cell phone reception is captured by the outside antenna. It is then amplified by the cellular repeater and rebroadcasted across the building or car through the inside antenna. The result is a boosted cell phone reception that culminates in more bars in your phone even in the remotest of places. You can then enjoy clearer calls (you won’t drop calls again) and faster internet browsing and rapid data downloads and uploads.  This is how the cellphone signal booster works in your car or house. 

All weBoost and Wilson repeaters, including cell phone signal booster T Mobile systems among others, work with virtually all cellular carriers in North America, particularly in Canada and United States. The boosters also work with all manner of cellular devices. Data and voice speeds from 2G voice, 3G data and 4G LTE advanced networks are all boosted depending on the booster you choose. 

Another advantage of a boosted connection is that the cell phone battery life will be extended by 180 minutes of extra talk time. You can actually choose a mobile signal booster that amplifies the signal strength of diverse cell phones simultaneously.

Signal strength refers to the electric field magnitude at a point of reference, which is a bit distant from the antenna doing the transmission. Signal strength is also known as field strength or received level signal. As you talk on your phone, the voice is changed by the mobile device into electric signals and relayed as radio waves. The phone of the person you're talking to then converts the electrical signals into sound that the individual can hear.  Any cell phone signal booster for house, car or marine vessel works to amplify this transmission. 

Types of cell phone repeater reception boosters.

Analog signal repeaters.

Essentially, most amplifiers today are analog ones. They amplify all mobile phone carrier frequencies using traditional technology. Also broadband (wide band) amplifiers, they are usually sold together with an outdoor antenna cable and kit. Installation is needed. Sometimes analog signal amplifiers are known as Bi-Directional repeaters/amplifier or BDAs in short. This is a signal booster that lots of localities under their law require to allow first responders to remain in contact around different areas and facilities to cater for emergency situations. Bi-directional amplifiers are for both cellular phone and two-way radio use.

Smart Signal boosters.

Generally, this defines a new form of wireless cell phone signal booster using very all-digital powerful baseband processors that clean the coverage prior to rebroadcasting. Smart reception amplifiers come with over 100 dB gains while their analog counterparts have 63-70 dB gains. They might be a little expensive than analog ones, but come with such great features as plug and play, internal donor antenna inside the box of the booster and no outdoor antennas are needed.   

Reasons why your signal is weak.

In a case study by Wilson Electronics, testing the cellular coverage in an area full of 100 feet deep wood red and white pine in New York, a Wilson signal booster was able to overcome the various obstacles manifested in rural areas across America. The result was a reliable cell phone reception to those living in the home. Data and voice reception from various carriers was enhanced.

-Distance between the cellular tower and your vehicle/home.

One of the reasons why your cell phone reception is weak could be due to the distance from the cellular tower closest to you. The closer you're to the cell tower, the stronger the cell phone signal received. On other hand, the farther you’re from the cellular tower of your carrier, the worse the cell phone signal. 

-Interferences from the outside.

It is also possible external interferences are affecting your cellular coverage. Note that cellular signals are generally radio waves and obstructed a lot as they cover long distances to reach your phone. Effective transmission of the waves requires a clear line right to the carrier's tower. Nonetheless, such outside interruptions as mountains, trees, skyscrapers and other tall buildings, hills, billboards, elements such as snow, thunderstorms and rain weaken the reception.

-Interference from the inside.

Another thing that weakens the reception is internal interferences. These include such things as thick building materials like layers of brick and thick concrete, radiant barriers, glasses and metal, magnetic and electronic clutter as well as conductive materials that block or weaken an incoming coverage. Your outside signal may be superb and perhaps even very close to your carrier cellular tower but inside your house the signal can be quite weak due to internal interferences. 

Certification of repeaters.

Today, in both Canada and the United States, all the cell phone signal booster repeaters have to be certified. Certification by the two federal governments mean that the amplifiers work as required or indicated; deal with reduced cellular coverage or extend the range of the cell phone. FCC (Federal Communication Commission) is United States body mandated with the certification and testing of all the cellular boosters up for sale. Across the border, it is IC (Industry Canada) that has the responsibility of ensuring this happens in Canada.

What is an aptitude of a reception booster?

An ATT cell phone signal booster and other carriers repeaters are made to work with an existing transmission. The transmission is then amplified accordingly before broadcasting it to a location or space with a very weak or no reception at all. Nonetheless, the system should work if there's already a stable signal that the device will be receiving and amplifying. Note that mobile repeaters, or any other repeater, don’t make signals and only transmit and amplify the cellular carrier's signal.  If the external cell phone antenna cannot be placed in an area or surrounding where signal is stable, the cell phone reception booster might not work as you desire. The right cell phone signal booster app can actually help identify such feasibility. 

Strength of the signal.

The cell phone coverage of the location you intend to have the external antenna mounted will determine the total area that need to be covered, perhaps inside your vehicle, office or home. In case the external reception is strong enough, you can easily cover a section that is about the same size as the coverage area promoted on a repeater. On the other hand, if there’s less external strong signal, interior area to be covered will not be the same size as that advertised. It might require going for a more powerful signal system to get a reliable coverage. Make a note of this any time you're buying a Wilson cell phone signal booster or for any other carrier, by paying attention to the square footage indicated.

You can also turn to the bars on a phone to evaluate the strength of the coverage. This will help you estimate the best place to have the external antenna mounted. There might be no universal way of showing signal bars on a mobile phone with some having five or less bars. Nonetheless, every bar is said to be 5-10 times stronger than the previous coverage bar. It means that those whose reception strength is very low (indicated on the cell phone as 1-2 bars) should not go for the recommended cell phone coverage booster for their location but one that is a little bit stronger.

Mind the amplifier power.

Decibels (dBs) are a logarithmic type of measurement that rates the strength of an amplifier. If an amplifier is rated as promoting a 6 dB increase, it means its strength doubles. At the same time for every 6 dB decrease, the amplifier is half as powerful. In case you're living around an area with a weak coverage and desire to enhance the connection across the entire area, choose a powerful amplifier. 

In a nutshell, a cell phone reception booster:

  • Boosts the 4G LTE, 3G or 2G voice signal in your car or home.
  • Enhances the internet speed, text and talk quality.
  • Maintains a reliable connection throughout.
  • Widens the reception area.
  • Diminishes coverage problems.

On the other hand the cell phone reception booster cannot:

  • Boost satellite and cable providers internet/Wi-Fi.
  • Create working 4G LTE and 3G signals since it requires an existing coverage to work.
  • Cannot work outside your vehicle or house but inside.

Outside home/ building antennas.

An outdoor cell phone signal booster like car cell phone booster usually features an outside antenna. An outdoor antenna is a critical component of any reception booster. It easily pulls in the weak cell phone coverage around you. Clearly, if your outside antenna is higher, the coverage pulled in is much better. They are easy to install or mount on a wall outside your house, on the house's roof or window. 

Generally, the cell phone signal booster antenna includes a ground plane, a flat or almost flat horizontal that works as a surface for the conduction of radio waves from other elements of the antenna. Note that the ground planes don't have to be fixed on the ground. Their size and shape highly determine their gain and other radiation traits.

While purchasing Best Buy cell phone signal boosters for instance, you might want to think about a Yagi outside antenna or Omni directional outside antenna. With these antennas you can easily pull in the existing 4G LTE advanced or 3G signals. 

An external antenna perhaps mounted on the house roof or via a window on the top story is connected with a coaxial cable to the base unit. The base unit then amplifies and relays the signal from the outdoors across the house.

-Omni-directional antenna.

These are all-rounder antennas that will always perform. The cell phone reception is pulled from all the directions or 360 degrees. If you live in an area with lots of cell towers around and you intend to amplify multiple cellular carriers this is a wonderful antenna to think about. It supports various cellular service providers at the same time. You only need a moderate or weak signal and the Omni-directional antenna will basically do the rest. 

-Yagi (Directional) antenna.

This uni-directional is a specialized antenna that pulls the cell phone reception from a specific direction, such as 45 degrees. It gives the antenna the chance to extend farther into the cellular tower for greater performance. Essentially, it is the kind of antenna to use for anyone living in the remotest of North American areas where there's a singular cellular tower or a single carrier. It is perfect for a poor signal with a big distance from the cellular tower and boosting the single network carrier is all that is needed. 

Vehicle outside antennas.

When it comes to cellular reception boosters for vehicles from RVs, trucks, marine vessels, motor homes, cars to SUVs there are diverse mounts and antennas to go for. Even so, you can choose between great car magnet standard mount type of antennas, superb large vehicle or recreational vehicle antennas and waterproof/weatherproof antennas for marine vessels for yachts or boats. 

-Car antenna.

The typical car antenna is mounted vertically close to the middle of the roof of the car. As Omni-directional antennas, the cellular reception is pulled from diverse directions. It means the antenna should be clear of any obstruction. 

Most car antennas feature magnet mounts that are simple to install. The magnetic mount car antennas can be anything between 4 inches and 12 inches with a stable magnetic base that can stand on the metallic roof of a car. They are low profile antennas capable of pulling in 4G LTE and 3G coverage.

-Recreational vehicle antenna.

A trucker or recreational vehicle antenna is a more durable and powerful specialized antenna. It is usually a bit long and rises between two and three feet. To absorb shock, the RV antenna is usually spring mounted with radial features for enhanced performance. It is not usually a magnetic antenna, and has to be fixed using an installation process with mounting assemblies that include screws, bolts, and metallic angled plates. While some RV antennas are specialized for 3G networks, most actually pull in both 4G LTE and 3G networks. 

-Marine antennas.

Like the truck/RV antennas, these are also specialized. They are made with the weather and elements in mind due to the chaotic environment where they are used in high seas and rough oceans. Marine antennas would generally be under two feet in length and mostly made of salt-resistant material, fiberglass and stainless steel. They are also not magnetic but fixed installations and require a mount. Marine antennas usually pull in both 4G LTE and 3G networks. 

Inside Antennae.

A critical component of any cell phone reception booster is its inside antenna. This is vital because it receives the amplified transmission and extends or rebroadcasts it across the area the coverage is actually needed. 

Building/home inside antennas.

Dome and panel antennas serve inside buildings and home needs. Through splitters, multiple interior antennas can be paired with a single amplifier. They are great for long distance and multi-story coverage, or simply ensuring the reception is boosted in specific areas of a home or building.

-Panel inside antenna.

This inside antenna effectively broadcasts the cell phone reception in a single direction. Panel antennas are wall mounted mostly and can also be mounted on ceilings to project reception below to lower levels/floors. If you have multiple floors to cover or wider rectangular spaces, these antennas will work fine. 

-Dome inside antenna.

This is a ceiling mounted antenna. It broadcasts cell phone reception in every direction and great for covering a single floor in a building.

Inside antennas for vehicles.

To boost the cell phone reception in cars panel and low-profile inside antennas are the types used.  

-Low profile car inside antenna.

These antennas are optimal for sedans and cars. They come with a Velcro attachment for a stable mount. This antenna type is the one you will find in most vehicle cell phone reception boosters. Low profile inside car antennas relay boosted 4G LTE and 3G data and voice signals from the amplifier to the area within the vehicle. They broadcast the coverage up to a diameter of four feet. 

-Panel inside antennas.

Best for a large vehicle, panel inside antennas are best for use in boats and recreational vehicles. They boost voice signals, 4G LTE and 3G data signals in vehicles and cover more ground and room in a spacious marine vessel or large recreational vehicle or motor home. 

Mind the cables and connectors.

To connect antennas and amplifiers, coaxial cables are used. In a typical antenna booster reception booster kit, you will find two cable sets for connecting an amplifier to the antenna on the outside, and the other for connecting the inside antenna with amplifier placed indoors.

For flexibility in installation, a longer cable is best but it is wise to use least amount as possible because longer the wire/cable, more signal is lost during transmission within that cable. In essence, reception is diminished with a longer cable. This is why it is critical to work with the appropriate short cable grade to guarantee a reduced coverage loss. 

-RG-6 coaxial cables.

In homes, the F-connector RG-6 cables are heavily used. This is basically the typical connector and cable found in most homes with a cable or satellite television.  They usually have 50 feet length coverage. 

-LMR 400 cable.

While fixing a cell phone reception booster for a larger area the LMR 400 cable or its equivalent SureCall 400 is usually used due to large area coverage such as 10,000 square foot coverage. It is an ultra low loss type of cable with N-Connectors fitted on it. Compared to RG-6 coaxial cable, it is a bit thicker and comes in handy in areas where a longer cable will do. The cable length is usually up to 1000 feet. 

-RG-174 Cable.

 For car cell phone reception boosters RG-174 coaxial cables are best. They come with SMA-connectors with a 10 foot cable length. 

Booster registration.

Note that it is important today to register the cellular reception booster with the cellular carrier you're using. Of course, lots of wireless coverage providers have given consent for the use of virtually all approved reception cellular boosters certified by FCC that we carry. Nevertheless, as liability protection you should courteously register the reception booster to indicate compliance with fair use guidelines. Just contact the carrier and you will be furnished with the steps to complete registration. You will find it requires either an email with the required details or filling a step by step online form on the carrier's website.     

What is the best cell phone signal booster to choose today? Are you searching for a portable cell phone signal booster for home and car? It all depends on your needs, for instance do you need the best cell phone signal booster for use in your car, business premises and marine vessel or with your M2M applications? Of course, home cell phone signal booster reviews, for instance, can also help you to choose. Whether it is a cell phone signal booster Sprint carrier user or any other cellular carrier in Canada and USA there’s a great zBoost repeater that meets your need. You can even check out our powerful commercial and industrial SureCall or Wilson cell phone signal boosters for better reception in your commercial building. 

Cell phone signal booster home uses.

A commercial and home building cell phone reception amplifier, even a cell phone signal booster from, Best Buy, will effectively enhance voice and 4G and 3G data networks. Some of the best cell phone signal boosters for home include SureCall’s SureCall EZ Call plug and play signal booster for voice, 3G, and 4G LTE which boosts reception over up to 2000 square feet. It is great for small properties, offices, small homes and small rooms with a 72 dB gain. Other in home cell phone signal boosters include SureCall Flare that boosts voice (2G), 3G and 4G LTE networks over up to 2500 square feet and boasts integrated booster and internal antenna for superior performance. Just for comparison with these home boosters, the Wilson Pro 4000R commercial amplifier for voice, 3G and 4G LTE networks is great for large businesses in gigantic spaces. It has a total coverage potential of 140,000 sq ft. Of course, cell phone signal booster for home reviews should shed more light on these repeater systems. 

Cell phone signal boosters great for vehicles.

There’re also cell phone signal boosters for cars, great for vehicles and marine vessels for 3G, 4G LTE and voice amplification. You can even access cell phone signal booster Radio Shack deals offering weBoost, SureCall, and Wilson repeaters. However, we recommend our robust SureCall Fusion2Go for cars/trucks and Fusion2Go-RV for recreational vehicles. Both are best used for their respective type of vehicle out there. Whether you want to build your own cell phone signal booster for your car/boat or not there’re other better ones you can check out, such as multiuser boosters such as Fusion2Go-Boat for marine vessels such as boats, yachts and ships. They amplify voice, 3G and 4G Advanced LTE networks. Even T-mobile cell phone signal boosters, including other carriers for vehicles and marine vessels, are available as well. A phone signal booster review for vehicles will shed more light on this. 

M2M Applications signal boosters.

For machine to machine applications, there’re signal boosters that work with all the various carrier services in Canada and USA. These boosters are best for machine to machine applications transmitting data wirelessly such as asset tracking systems, vending machines, remote monitoring systems, ATMs and fleet telematics among others. They include the part # SC-SoloAI-15 which is the 4G LTE M2M Signal Booster For Verizon And AT&T 4G LTE.  These machine to machine signal boosters are direct connect amplifiers meaning they are wired to the cellular modem/device within an ATM, security panel cabinet, or vending machine where they require stronger cell connection.