Cell-phone boosters solve the problem of spotty coverage in your home. Better boosters often create a strong-enough signal for users to drop Wi-Fi, choosing to use their data service's 3G or 4G connection instead. Cell phone owners that routinely lose calls in certain areas of their homes most directly benefit from these devices, making cellular calls nearly as reliable as land-based phone connections.
It's common to have a section of your home where dropped calls are far more prevalent, whether it's due to structural interference or low signal levels. It may also be your the home is located further from a local cell tower than is optimal, requiring a booster to jump up those low levels to something usable. Going reliably from one to four or five bars means increased call reliability and peace of mind, especially when the phone is used for professional phone calls.
Configuration and Use
Operating normally in the 800 to 1900 megahertz range, cell-phone boosters feature adjustable signal-strength controls to adapt the coverage to any environment. Boosters come in different sizes and strengths, mainly depending on the size of space you are trying to fill. These small wall-mounted units are amplifiers, taking whatever signal from local towers is present and improving it accordingly.
Parts and Installation
The cell-phone amplifier or booster receives the feed from an externally-mounted directional or unidirectional antenna, which pulls in the feed from the cell tower. This antenna is selected based on the degree of line-of-sight available to the closest cell tower. You can locate the closest tower online or via various smartphone apps. This feed heads to the booster over coaxial cable, which then routes to a low-profile or desktop-mounted antenna. Low-profile units offer potentially greater coverage to a broader space, while desktop transmitters are ideal for maximum signal strength over a smaller room or or office. Mobile solutions require docking the phone in a cradle, where the improved signal is radiated directly to the phone from an externally-mounted antenna.
What Doesn't Work
Infomercials touting the efficacy of stick-on antennas mounted under the cell phone's battery are dubious. These passive solutions may help focus the internal antenna slightly more towards the cellular signal, but do nothing to actively boost the feed like an active, amplified system. Additionally, many cell phones like Apple's iPhone use an antenna that wraps around the chassis, making any add-on like this ineffective. Remember also that if you are getting little to no signal, passive solutions cannot amplify something that is not there. If you have real cellular coverage issues in your home or office, consider an active design.
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images