Cell Phone Signal Boosters

Category: Gadgets , Mobile

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.
cellular signal booster

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 Products

Wilson 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 Electronics Cell Signal Booster 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 cell phone signal booster 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…

 
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Posted by on 12 Sep 2012


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Most recent comments on "Cell Phone Signal Boosters"

(See all 23 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Fommy
03 Nov 2008

The universal antenna transfers cellular phone signals to exterior antenna. A great way to enhance reception and reduce signal fade. Antenna mounts to any glass surface.


Posted by:

Dan Karnes
03 Nov 2008

About these "Cell Phone Boosters", the ones that plug into the wall and have an active transmitter, unless you are the cell phone carrier or get written permission from the licensee(cell phone carrier) they are illegal for the common person to deploy. Please see the FCC Rules and Regulations CFR 47 Part 22.527.

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/get-cfr.cgi?TITLE=47&PART=22&SECTION=527\

&YEAR=2002&TYPE=TEXT

Please correct the information in this article to reflect this since the pollution of our airwaves can create alot of problems and wreak havoc on the cellular, LMR and public safety networks

EDITOR'S NOTE: I've read Sec. 22.527 and it seems pretty vague to me, as to whether consumers may use these low-wattage devices. I think the regs were written to cover things like cell towers and other high-powered devices, and refer to "licensees" which are the cellular providers.

The Wilson website says: "All Wilson amplifiers fully comply with FCC regulations for cellular devices and are FCC Type Accepted. They require no license or permit to operate. The FCC Identification Number is printed on the back of each amplifier." Thus, it seems that these CONSUMER-level devices pose no problem.

I don't own one, nor do I have any financial interest in any of the companies that sell them. But the fact that they are widely advertised, and widely deployed seems to be good empirical evidence that they are not illegal.


Posted by:

April
11 Nov 2008

For those of you who have a booster that works in Florida, can you help me out by telling me what you are using? My parents just moved to FL, and have horrible reception inside their new home. The phones they are using is the SONY ERICSSON Z750a CELL PHONE. I'm pretty sure they run on the 850Mhz. Their carrier is At&t, which isn't the only problem, my husband and I have Verizon and he too did not have a signal inside the home when he visited. Any information to help me choose a signal booster for them will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!


Posted by:

Craig
14 Nov 2008

About the previous comment of "SIGNAL BOOSTERS ARE ILLEGAL FOR THE COMMON PERSON TO DEPLOY"....I called my local District Attorney and he told me that "this was true"....if you consider yourself to be "common", with absolutely no unique personality trait what-so-ever, then NO, you can't deploy these systems. He went on to add, that if you possibly had one characteristic, such as say, your genetic code, that was different from others, then that makes you NOT "common" and therefore the FCC will alow you to deploy these systems, even though they may interfere with our National Defense Sytems, and could ultimately cause the Pentagon to move us into DEFCON 4 !!!! Lets all be careful installing these, and never press the * (star) key on our phones.


Posted by:

BG Philipp
22 Feb 2009

Further to comments posted by Dan Karnes Nov 3/08 and Editor's comments. Although these devices may meet FCC requirements, the cell carrier has, in most cases, paid millions of dollars to use the cellular frequencies and no one else is authorized to do so. This is why Mr. Karnes indicated that the use of signal boosters are illegal. Further, with the modern Digital Cellular technologies deployed, these devices can interfere with a carrier's service which is why the carrier should be involved in their deployment. If this is done properly, these devices can be very useful.


Posted by:

D Sutherland
06 May 2009

We have a cabin in the woods of Michigan that has virtually NO cell phone reception thanks to a lawsuit by the local land-line provider that resulted in a consent agreement by the large national carriers to NOT BUILD ANY CELL TOWERS IN THE AREA because that was "unfair competition to the small, local provider". We use a SmoothTalker amplifier (a Canadian company) to raise our signal from the Motorola handheld's milliwatts to the legal limit of 3 watts. Reception is no problem since the cell(s) blast plenty of power but talking to the cell requires more than handheld flipfone power. And 3 watts is legal (some bag phones that put out 3 watts analog can still be found at garage sales and activated although the carriers usually balk at the request because they want to eliminate analog service) because you - the user - ARE BROADCASTING TO THE TOWER EVERY TIME YOU CALL ON YOUR CELL PHONE. If you have an account "agreement" with the cell phone company, you are allowed to use their cell phone frequencies.


Posted by:

Les
01 Aug 2009

It would seem that cellphone companies would try to remedy the problem of no-cell-phone-reception-dead-areas. I live in the middle of a big city and there is a cell tower virtually within view of my house and I still get no reception. I spent $250 for the zBoost yx510 that is identical to the pictured above. I walked around the house and found the "sweetest" area to install it in the attic. My phone will not work approximately 60% of the time when I am standing within 3 feet of the zBoost. It in no way extends to a 2500 square foot range. This is very irritating.
I plan to spend $250 on the (company name omitted) broadband booster but it seems that since I pay sooooo much to (CNO) that they should provide it free-of-charge because I have NO reception.


Posted by:

Dan
11 Nov 2009

To those of you who think it may be illegal to use cellular signal boosters, I can only say you don't understand the law. The FCC limits a person only by the amount of transmit power your device has. Yes it is true, you can only transmit at above 3W with a license, however if it were less than that, we would need one to operate our cell phones.

As for these repeaters and in response to BG Philipp, the cellular companies paid for the license to transmit on the cellular frequencies meaning that you cannot develop equipment that uses these frequencies in a way that would inhibit their devices from working. In this case, the user is simply BOOSTING that signal in order to improve reception in a dwelling. This is perfectly legal and does NOT infringe on their license.

Feel free to buy and use these devices. No one from the government is gonna come a-knockin' asking what you are doing.


Posted by:

vik1066
15 Dec 2009

Nice post regarding Cell Amplifier.


Posted by:

ethan1066
19 Jan 2010

I gained 2 bars, even in the garage, in a low receiving area through cell amplifier. Simple installation and great, immediate results. Only PRO'S, no CON'S. Nice company and good communication regarding shipping. One thing the instructions didn't cover: On the powerplug that plugs into a 12V outlet, there is a small white button to press for power, which seems to be a power reset button.


Posted by:

Rushin
15 Apr 2010

Reply to Craig's posting:

"About the previous comment of "SIGNAL BOOSTERS ARE ILLEGAL FOR THE COMMON PERSON TO DEPLOY"....I called my local District Attorney and he told me that "this was true"....if you consider yourself to be "common", with absolutely no unique personality trait what-so-ever, then NO, you can't deploy these systems. He went on to add, that if you possibly had one characteristic, such as say, your genetic code, that was different from others, then that makes you NOT "common" and therefore the FCC will alow you to deploy these systems, even though they may interfere with our National Defense Sytems, and could ultimately cause the Pentagon to move us into DEFCON 4 !!!! Lets all be careful installing these, and never press the * (star) key on our phones."

Look-up the definition of "Person." This is too deep of a subject to be discussed on a few lines.

Bottom line is that your CAP lock name is a "person." Your driver's license, birth certificate, etc. However, You, as a "living soul" does NOT need to comply with the system based off Unified Commercial Code - there are 60 million statues that apply ONLY to CORPORATIONS, which happens to be your CAP lock name, but not You.

The worst can happen - you will be charged "fees" as fines and penalties. But NO ONE will have a right to take anything down WITHOUT your permission.

That applies to most activities you conduct in your daily life - traffic infractions, code violations, etc, etc...

But it matters not - the system is ALREADY collapsing. Just build it, but with no harm to anyone. According to God's Law, not some Statutes... Once again, there are 60 million of statutes - how can you possibly keep up with them? You can't. Nobody can. Even attorneys (who actually know what IS up with our current system).

It's not a conspiracy - educate yourself!!!

My family is dealing with HOA in our community - same thing - the only thing they can do is "fine" us.

It's all about "ca-ching." Money... And money means nothing to me. Including their "codes" and regulations - because it's for "persons" only.

Just FYI - only 6% of Corporations in the USA in 2009 have paid any taxes. Almost ALL of them are offshore now.

But, boy, do they regulate the heck out of all of us!!!


Posted by:

Doug
25 May 2010

will the zBoost ONE PCS work with Telus? Model YX400


Posted by:

Trevor
15 Sep 2010

I have bought 2 of the ZBoost 510 models (both 1900/800). Being in the Greater Toronto Area (West) and on Bell with a Blackberry 9530, I can tell you that it will not work. I have sent the ZBoosts back twice, bought another one hoping to get one that worked. While their customer support was incredible, the problem here is that they boost the Rogers signal so I end up with SOS on the Blackberry.


Posted by:

James
30 Jan 2011

To make a repeater system (which does multiple carriers) work in a particular area. Someone from a repeater distributor that knows what they are doing really needs to assess the local situation and your local carrier's frequency, how much output power and gain that you need, distance to the tower, terrain between you and the tower, distance between your indoor/outdoor antenna, building material, how much area you want to cover inside, etc.
Also, if you are too close to a cell tower, you can cause what the carrier's call a "noise attack" on the tower, which will for sure cause someone from the carrier to show up at your door. I've seen it happen with Bell in Toronto.
Here's the site if you want an assessment for a Canadian install:
www.magicwireless.ca


Posted by:

Bobby
22 Feb 2011

I have been using first a plug in antenna booster and now a wireless cradle type receiver & booster for several years.It is made by Wilson Electronics that has the best cell phone boosters on the Market today.Try one you will never change to another brand


Posted by:

sheila richardson
05 Apr 2011

looking for a signal booster that will help inside our mobile home and a large steel and tin building,we live in an isolated area that has very limited signal, any suggestions?


Posted by:

Wallz
23 Jun 2011

I have used a Spotwave 2500xe in a basement office and it was amazing. I went from zero signal to full strength at any spot in the warren of offices, probably about 7500 ft2.


Posted by:

Top dog
20 Sep 2011

Tmobile has a solution to that problem. Wifi Calling,unlimited text unlimited talk and unlimited internet under WIFI calling. this feature will able you to go above in legal way to use. as long the wifi network is under broadband internet then you are okay to do it under wifi. WiFI is only works with Tmobile capable devices. WiFi is found at people house coffee shops restaurants and other places that has wifi network.


Posted by:

brian deman
26 Oct 2012

Heres was my solution to a weak att signal that worked for me. After 2yrs of calling and arguments again with drop calls even in situations at home in there printed coverage area map was simple and it worked best for me. One word was my solution its VERIZON . I always wondered why those whack commercials say "can u hear me now" and now I laugh at folks when they have there phones in the air trying to get a bar. Verizon's network may not be the fastest but its truly the most dependable one on the market.


Posted by:

William Hebert
01 Nov 2013

Bob,
we don't have many problems with signal strength. My wife and I both have Samsung Galaxy S 3 Phones and dearly love them. Our Cellular company is
C-Spire, and they are trying to really change the entire area. They are going to put Fiber Optic wiring directly to everyone's home, with 1 GB speed.
We are trying to get it to Corinth, MS first. But we really like C-Spire, a very friendly company.


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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Cell Phone Signal Boosters (Posted: 12 Sep 2012)
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