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Author Topic: cell phone signal boosters - do they work  (Read 171 times)

djw2112

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cell phone signal boosters - do they work
« on: July 11, 2019, 01:57:45 PM »
Where i live now has horrible signal (verizon), the trouble is that the community sits down in a hole and there is no tower close by so i only get 1 maybe 2 bars at best and i drop alot of calls. 

So i was looking at getting a signal booster just strong enough to boost the signal on my lot but i dont know if they really work or not.

Anyone have any experience with this?

Thanks
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Isaac-1

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Re: cell phone signal boosters - do they work
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2019, 02:27:24 PM »
Than can work, though are usually only useful in fringe areas, also under a number of conditions the booster may result in more stable signal, but slower data throughput.     The situation where boosters most often help is the sort of place where you get one bar, if you stand in a certain place with the phone over your head.

 See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14tWiAsqfJk for a recent video on this topic     

p.s. back in the 3G cell days we used one at the family ranch where you could only get cell phone signal if you stood in a certain part of the yard, but not inside the house, now there is a tower 1/2 mile away.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 02:29:25 PM by Isaac-1 »
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docj

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Re: cell phone signal boosters - do they work
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2019, 02:29:14 PM »
Cell phone boosters do definitely work, but for them to work you have to have a signal strong enough to be amplified.  There are a number of phone apps that can enable you to read the actual signal; the bars at the top of the display are qualitative only.   

Furthermore, for an amplifier to work you need a line-of-sight path from the tower to your phone.  At my last sticks and bricks house we were on the opposite side of a mountain from all the cellular towers.  Even though we could see a weak signal on the phones it was impossible to maintain call with or without amplification since all the signal was "multi-path" rather than being direct. 

The first thing I would recommend doing is to determine how strong your signal actually is.  Use an app such as Network Cell Info Lite (for Android) or something similar.  Cell signals are measured in negative Decibels.  A smaller negative number represents a larger signal.  Normally signals as weak as ~-115 dBm will work fine, but when things get down to ~-125 dBm it's difficult to maintain a connection.  However, a decent amplifier such as those made by WeBoost should work well with signals as weak as -130-140 dBm.  One thing to realize is that the decibel is a logarithmic measurement so a difference of 10 in dB represents a 10 times change in signal strength.  So -130 dBm is a hundred times less signal than -110 dBm.

If you measure the signal at your house and it is reasonably stable then it is probably a line of sight connection.  If it jumps around a lot for no apparent reason then I would be worried that it is mult-path.  At my previous home, the wind blowing the leaves in the trees would significantly change the signal strength.  If it's a multi-path signal, not much can help you IMO.

Joel (AKA docj)
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djw2112

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Re: cell phone signal boosters - do they work
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2019, 05:00:39 PM »
Thanks so much guys....   verizon told me not much they can do since no tower around here close.  They did tell me that if anyone here wanted to do a long term lease they would certainly be interested in adding a tower here.  If i had the money i would buy another lot and lease it to them, easy money!

If i can get a signal strong enough to download something that would be great, i tried to DL a booster app earlier today and its only 5MB and it kept failing and i finaily gave up.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: cell phone signal boosters - do they work
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2019, 05:06:03 PM »
If you see two bars but your phone still drops calls, a booster may not help much. With those symptoms, the most likely problem is a reflected signal which results in intermittent connection between phone and tower. The signal is moderately strong but intermittent, changing in both strength and direction.  However, getting an antenna higher up in the air may do a lot so a booster that incorporates an external antenna may improve the reliability of the signal. Mount the external antenna on a mast that gets it 12-20 ft above shoulder height.
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Back2PA

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Re: cell phone signal boosters - do they work
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2019, 05:18:43 PM »
Here is a post of mine detailing a recent booster install including pictures.

getting an antenna higher up in the air may do a lot so a booster that incorporates an external antenna may improve the reliability of the signal. Mount the external antenna on a mast that gets it 12-20 ft above shoulder height.

As Gary suggests, I am using an external antenna, mounted about 25 feet above the ground

Bottom line results:
Performance without the booster: I typically had 1, and occasionally 2 bars (iPhones no longer allow Field Test mode giving signal DB, so bars is all I can report), and also occasionally no service. Data was 1x (also known as "2.5G" by Open Signal, which is what it reported during direction finding). So calls would routinely drop, and no data on the phone.

Performance with the booster: I have 2 bars of LTE, resulting in clear 4G calls with no dropouts, and roughly 1.5-2MB data. Obviously these numbers are well below max 4G speeds, but considering that without the booster I have no data whatsoever, and often no service period, I consider this a huge improvement. And I have that performance from one end of my fifth wheel to the other.

I am dealing with the reflecting/multi-path signal others mentioned, with lots of trees. While I am satisfied with the improvement using Verizon (where my directional antenna is pointed) it does not help my AT&T signal. While the unit is capable of boosting both at the same time, since the antenna is not pointed at AT&T it doesn't see that signal. I am contemplating the alternate install of the highest gain omni-directional antenna I can find and see how that work. This would however mean giving up some Verizon signal strength as I'm currently using an 11DB gain yagi and an omni is likely to be about half that DB gain (what end difference that will make I'll have to see).

I have not dropped a single call since the booster install, where previously almost every other call dropped
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 05:23:55 PM by Back2PA »
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djw2112

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Re: cell phone signal boosters - do they work
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2019, 05:33:11 PM »
WOW i had no idea they were that expensive....  i may have to put that off till next year so i can use a CC.
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Back2PA

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Re: cell phone signal boosters - do they work
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2019, 05:39:01 PM »
WOW i had no idea they were that expensive....  i may have to put that off till next year so i can use a CC.


That is one of the most expensive. There are others that are about half as much.
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LarsMac

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Re: cell phone signal boosters - do they work
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2019, 06:53:59 PM »
Our son drives a truck for the oil fields. He picked up a signal booster to try since much of his time was out in the back of beyond.
It did improve his signal when out there.
But it is out in Northeast Colorado, where there is some good line-of-sight, and just distance to worry about.

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