Cell Phone Signal Boosters
Sometimes your cell phone can't pick up a good signal inside a building, on the road, or in remote areas. In some cases, a cell phone signal booster might help. Here's the scoop on which ones work and which to avoid...
No Bars, No Signal? Try a Cellular Booster
Cell phone boosters can help improve the signal you can pick up on your cell phone. The boosters work sort like of a TV antenna. It gives you more range, and more power is put into amplifying the signal, to give you a better connection to the cell phone signal outside of your house, car or building. Some boosters do actually work, depending on the circumstances. Some boosters absolutely don't work. Here's the scoop…
What To Expect From Cell Phone Boosters
Most cell phones usually work better while you're on the road, or outside in most cities. Cell phones were designed to be the tool you use while you weren't able to call on a landline phone. Most people have grown so accustomed to using their cell phones; many have dropped their landline phones. So the need for a cell phone to work in additional areas is of high interest.
Boosters, in general, won't increase your cell phone signal to super strength, as advertised on some products, but they can improve it enough to make it usable on the fringes of a coverage area, or where the signal is weak. Many reviews suggest that the quality boosters will improve signal by at least a full bar or two. If you're in a cement basement, or a metal structure, you probably won't see these results, but if you want to be able to walk away from your window and further into your house or apartment, these devices might be useful. In some cases, the boosters also improved the sound quality of the call.
Cell Phone Booster ProductsWilson Electronics is one of the leading manufacturers of cell phone boosters. Their products include both mobile boosters (boosters meant for improving the signal while you travel) and in-building boosters, which can improve signals behind walls. If you have a phone from Verizon, US Cellular, Cellular One, Alltel, Bell Canada, Telus, Cingular, Sprint, T-Mobile the Wilson products should work for you. Nextel phone are not supported.
Wilson makes mobile signal boosters that include an antenna which can be mounted on your car's window or roof. These systems range in cost from $270-$300. The antenna captures the signal and feeds it into an amplifer, which can be directly connected to your cell phone via a special cable. The in-building amplifiers come in two forms. The first includes a roof-mounted antenna connected to an amplifier, which beams the amplified signal wirelessly into a certain area of the home or building. No physical connection to your phone is required and the signal can be used by multiple phones and/or laptop cellular data adapters. The second type is very similar but in this case the amplifier has a built-in antenna, and can be mounted outdoors (on a pole or wall) or indoors on a window. These in-building signal booster systems start at about $500.
Zboost is another company offering similar products, at competitive prices. The YX540 ($299) is designed for users in single story buildings and boosts the cellular signal up to 1500 sq ft in your home or office.
Zboost says that cell phones from Cricket, Metro PCS, Suncom, T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T Verizon are compatible with their products, but again, Nextel phones are not.
Cell phone makers such as Nokia and Motorola also offer cell phone boosters, and cell phone service companies, like Verizon, are also starting to offer similar products as well. Contact your cellular provider to check into these offerings, and compare with the products mentioned above.
For the boosters that work, the prices can range from $100 to $500 or more. Most also require that you do your own installation, or if you want someone else to do it for you, expect to pay more. While the systems are generally easy to install, you may need to climb into your attic or onto your roof in order to install the antenna.
Your signal might improve by only a bar or two, but that improvement seems to be worth the price, according to people who have these systems. However, it is highly recommended that you work with a dealer that offers different types of boosters, and that they have a return policy available. Try a couple of different devices to find the one that works with your phone, your cell phone provider, and in your area, etc.
Scam Cell Phone Boosters - The Ones That Don't Work
There are many products that have come out over the years that simply didn't work. You might remember the old commercial where a sticky strip was applied to a cell phone battery, and that was supposed to improve your cell phone signal? There were many complaints about the product that it didn't function as advertised. In fact, one study showed that the sticker simply did nothing, and in some cases weakened the signal.
Other boosters that offer a simple antenna attached to your cell phone, or perhaps other gimmicks more than likely do not work. To get a better signal, you need something that will reach outside and bring the signal to your phone. Also, some systems that do include an antenna might work well, until you leave the room where the base is located. Different products operate in different ways, depending on your environment. Factors affecting the usefulness of signal boosters might include location, cell phone signal availability in your area, which cell phone company you use, the cell phone you use, etc. For example, Zboost's products are labeled as not working with Nextel signals. Other products might suggest different limitations.
Do you have a cellular signal booster? Tell me how it works (or not) by posting a comment below…
Posted by Bob Rankin on 12 Sep 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Cell Phone Signal Boosters (Posted: 12 Sep 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved