Cell Phone Repeater & Cell Phone Booster FAQs
What to know before you buy a cell phone signal booster / cell phone repeater
What is a cell phone repeater system? A typical cell phone repeater kit consists of an outside antenna, an amplifier that requires AC or DC power and an inside antenna. The inside antenna is sometimes attached to the amplifier on less powerful systems.
What's the difference between a cell phone repeater and a cell phone signal booster? Generally speaking, nothing. Most of the time, the titles are used interchangeably. They both refer to a signal booster kit which picks up the cellular signals outside of a building & projects them wirelessly over a given area inside of the building. We will run the radio frequency engineering formula for you at no extra charge, to assure that you get the kit that will covered the area you need covered & at the lowest cost to you.
Three main ways to boost a cell phone signal:
1. An external cell phone antenna that is connected by coax cable directly to the cell phone or to a computer air card (if that's what what you want boosted).
2. A direct-connect kit, which is comprised of the external cell phone antenna, connected via coax cable to a direct-connect amplifier, which is then connected directly to the chosen device. An example of the direct-connect cell phone signal booster kit is our Wilson Electronics 3 Watt Direct Connect Amplifier with Outside Antenna and Adapter 812201 C.
3. A wireless repeater kit, which consists of an outside antenna connected to lightning suppressor fuse by coax cable, then to an amplifier, which is then connected to an inside antenna. Click on any of the "kit" boxes below for examples.
Note, the device will need a port with which to accept an adapter that is made specifically for the the device. Not all cell phones or computer air cards have these ports and adapters are not made for every device that has the port (maddening, I know). To make it a bit easier, click here for for our list of adapters that are made.
There is much more information below the images here, but you can click on any image below to see specific examples of that item:
How do cellular phone repeaters work? For incoming calls, the outside antenna, called a “donor” antenna, picks up the signal, boosts it and sends it to the amplifier via a coax cable that connects the two devices. The amplifier boosts the signal much more and projects it wirelessly over a given area, through the inside antenna. For outgoing calls the sequence is reversed.
The area to be covered with the repeated cellular signal can easily be predetermined, using a radio frequency engineering formula. We are happy to run that formula for you at no extra charge to make sure you are buying the right kit for the signal problem you need solved, without overspending. We have found that some customers think "more gain is better" when that extra gain is not really needed. We can often save you money if you call us before buying at 214-774-2588 or 888-713-1243.
What is a cellular signal? Cell phone signals, like television and radio signals, are radio frequency signals, or waves. Technically, they are electromagnetic waves.
What are cellular frequencies? They are radio frequency levels. The FCC controls the airwaves in America and approves different frequency levels for each service provider, or carrier. Find the frequency your carrier is using at your location.
How do I find my service provider's cell phone tower location? Click Find Cell Towers
Why can’t I get a cell phone signal inside a building? Radio frequency signals at the cellular level just will not penetrate solid building materials much more dense than, say, sheetrock. They will not penetrate asphalt or concrete shingles, radiant barriers, brick or most wood. If you can use a cell phone or computer air card in a building without a signal booster, it is likely because it is close enough to the cell phone tower and situated so the signals go through, non-tinted windows.
How many bars will a signal booster give me? Unfortunately, nobody can tell you that for sure. Cell phone towers instruct the device to turn its gain up or down several times a minute, depending upon how much gain is getting to the tower and how many people are connected to it. We have seen instances where the tower would allow only two bars on a cell phone, but that gave a good, strong connection when without the signal booster, there was no connection.
People will often see the bars go down on their cell phones when they enter a building that is using a cell phone signal booster. That is considered normal. You will drive yourself crazy watching the bars on your cell phone, because that feature is determined by things you have no control over.
"The proof is in the pudding"; the question really should be, "can I use my cell phone in all the areas I bought the signal booster to cover?" Don't fret about the number of bars.
What is the difference between 3g and 4g? "G" stands for "generation". 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th. Forget about 1st; it does not work any longer. Most places offer at least 3rd generation technology, which allows for voice service and pretty fast data throughput.
4G is for data throughput only. If you do not download or upload data much, use the internet on your cell phone, or if you are reasonably happy with the download speeds when you do, you do not need a 4G cell phone signal booster. If you depend upon data cards or Mi-Fi's to supply your internet connection on your computer for faster than DSL speeds, you will likely be much happier with a signal booster that boosts the signal for 4G - if it is offered by your service provider at your location. View your service provider's frequencies & technologies (CDMA, LTE, etc.).
What do the cell phone acronyms mean? Cell phone acronyms include CDMA, Edge, EV-DO, GPRS, GSM, HSDPA, LTE, PCS, UTMS, W-CDMA, LTE, AWS and others. iDEN is gone. They refer mainly to code reading technologies and cellular broadband technologies. You really need to know which technologies your service provider uses in your area so you can buy the correct cell phone repeater.
Is there a “passive” cell phone repeater? Yes. It is when you stand by a window or go outside and your signal gets better. Some people claim to make or sell them, but the truth is that radio frequency signals need power to be pushed, or repeated. That’s what cell phone towers are, repeater towers. They repeat your specific call from tower to tower as you drive around in your vehicle.They require huge amounts of power (just look at the size of the cables on one), like radio and television towers. If power was not needed to push your cell phone signals, your service provider would need only one tower to serve the world. In other words, if “passive“ repeaters worked, there would be no need for “active” ones.
How far will a cell phone repeater broadcast the signal? That depends on a number of things: the current outside signal strength at the place where the cellular phone repeater’s outside antenna will be installed, the gain of that antenna, the amplifier's gain, how much cable will be used and which frequency you want to boost. To compute the coverage area for your application call us at 214-774-2588 - 888-713-1243 and we will do it for you.
Can a cellular repeater system boost a weak outside signal? Yes. However, we can likely save your money & time, if you will call us before buying one (from us). We do not charge extra, or act as if you are bothering us anytime you call. Customer service IS our business. It is why so many people, small businesses and even Fortune 100 companies have been our customers for years.
My next door neighbor can use her cell phone inside, why can’t I? For the same reason you can talk on your cell phone on one side of the street and not on the other. Your house may be blocked from the signal by a tree(s), it may be blocked by her house, it may be lower in elevation, you may have a radiant barrier & she does not, and she may have a different service provider with a tower better located.
Why do I get a good signal in the winter but not in the spring and summer? The trees between you and the tower have leafed out, most likely. You can likely solve this problem by using a directional antenna. It can be turned to better find the "sweet spot" where the signals are coming through. Then, it will be used as part of a repeater kit, so the signals can be projected wirelessly over the area you need covered with a signal.
Are cellular repeaters legal? If they say they are FCC Accepted, they are. In June of 2013, after a long period of input, research and deliberations, the FCC again stated that unless your cell signal provider complains (if your signal booster does not have oscillation, or feedback, protection) to you about your cell phone signal booster, it is allowed.
Will audio/visual coax cable work with a cellular repeater? Yes. But it is 75 OHM cable which will restrict the signal gain somewhat if you have 50 OHM components in your repeater kit. We do use it in 50 OHM repeater kits, but we always run the radio frequency engineering formula to make sure the area needed to be covered with a signal is covered with the repeater kit chosen.
We also carry Wilson 75Our Wilson Electronics Dual Band DB Pro Cell Phone Signal Booster-Repeater 841262 repeater's components are 75 OHM and use the RG6 coaxial cable. If you need coverage for a bigger building we have a stronger unit with multiple inside antennas such as our Wilson Dual Band 70dB Repeater with Two Inside Antennas 801265 B Therefore, if your home or business is pre-wired with audio/visual cable these Wilson Electronics Dual Band Kits can be used with it.
What kind of coax cable should be used for a cell phone repeater? LMR400 or LMR400e for most cell phone repeater kits unless unless manufactured to be used with a different coax cable (then the kit is engineered to work with that cable).
What is the gain loss of LMR400 & LMR400e? First, LMR400 is the generic, or industry, name for this cable. LMR400 loses 3.9 dB @ 850 MHz and 6.5 @ 1900 MHz (various engineering tables show slightly different loses) per 100 feet in length. RG8X loses about twice the that loss and RG58 loses about 4 times that loss. RG6 loses about 8 dB at 850 MHz and 13 dB at 1900 MHz. Again, call us; we are happy to figure gain input & output for you.
How much coax cable can I use in a cell phone repeater system? That depends upon the strength of the signal at the donor antenna location, the amount of signal gain provided by that antenna and the signal gain provided by the kit's amplifier. If you want to use substantially cable more than is in any of our systems, please call us at 214-774-2588 or 888-713-1243 and we will be pleased to guide you so that you can use the cable lengths you want while providing the signal coverage you desire.
Why a Yagi vs. omni-directional antenna for cellular repeaters? Yagi antennas have roughly twice, or more, the gain of omni-directional cell phone antennas. Also, all of the Yagi antenna’s gain is pointing in one direction and it’s elements collect and hold the signal better, so it is more efficient. Therefore, more coax cable can be used with a Yagi antenna vs. an omni-directional antenna.
Can multiple inside antenna be used with a cellular repeater? Yes. How many depends on many of the variables used in determining the coverage area of a system with a single inside antenna. We do not recommend guessing at it. Call us and we will run the formulas for you at no charge - 214-774-2588 - 888-713-1243.
Can multiple service providers be covered with a single cell phone repeater? Yes. Provided you have adequate, outside signal from those carriers. Our Wilson Electronics DB Pro Cell Phone Signal Booster-Repeater Model 841262 will provide cellular signal boost for all carriers.
There are questions you likely have taht were not shown here. Just give us a call - we are happy to answer them at 214-774-2588.