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, cell phone repeater refers to a kit that includes the items stated above. The name "cell phone signal booster" is more of an all-encompassing term that often refers to the cell phone repeater, or:
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.
When used here, "cell phone signal booster" means "cell phone repeater".
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.
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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 an engineering formula. Most of our standard Wilson Electronics repeater kits at UnwiredSignal.com will clearly state the area it will project a signal in its description.
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 air waves in America and approves different frequency levels for each service provider, or carrier. Typically, 800 MHz to 894 MHz and 1850 MHz to 1990 MHz are reserved for Canada, North America and South America. The 800 MHz and 1800 MHz frequencies are reserved for other continents.
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, sheet rock. 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.
In the US who uses which cellular frequencies? Sprint and Tmobile use 1900 MHz. ATT and Verizon use both 850 MHz and 1900 MHz. Nextel, the walkie-talkie part of Sprint/Nextel uses 806/866 MHz.
What is the difference between 3g and 4g? "G" stands for "generation" as in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. Each new generation is able to upload and download significantly more data at the same time than the previous generation either through increased portals or higher technology. This allows for for more functions. There never would have been an iPhone without the 3rd generation technology.
What do the cell phone acronyms mean?
They refer to various digital code reading technologies for cell phones and computer air cards / data cards.
Cell Phone Acronyms includes CDMA, Edge, EV-DO, GPRS, GSM, HSDPA, IDEN, LTE, PCS, UTMS, W-CDMA.
Is there a “passive” cell phone repeater? No, even though some people claim to make or sell them. Radio frequencies need power to be pushed, or repeated. That’s what cell phone towers are, repeater towers. 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 the 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, how much cable will be used and which frequency you want to boost. To compute the coverage area for your application Click Here or call us at 888-713-1243 and we will do it for you.
How do I know which components to buy for a cell phone repeater? That depends on a number of things: the current outside signal strength at the place where the repeater’s outside antenna will be installed, the gain of that antenna, the amplifier, how much cable will be used and which frequency you want to boost.
To make it easier for our customers, we have assembled cell phone signal booster / cell phone repeater kits for both building and mobile use. The cellular repeater system that will cover the area inside most homes and small offices is the Wilson Electronics Dual Band DB Pro Cell Phone Booster - Repeater 841263. To view all of repeater system kits for buildings, Click Here.
Our wireless repeater system for most vehicles and smaller boats, it is the Wilson Electronics Dual Band Mobile Wireless Repeater Kit 801201 B. To see our repeater system and amplifier kits for cars, trucks, RV’s & boats, Click Here. To compute the coverage area for your application Click Here or call us at 888-713-1243 and we will do it for you.
Can a cellular repeater system boost a weak outside signal? Yes. However, setting up a cell phone amplifier / cellular repeater it is not for the amateur to attempt. It is a normal part of our business, so give us a call if this describes you and your situation.
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 and, of course, 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 pole mounted Yagi antenna elevated to a height that will allow it to “see” the signals it is going after. Usually, between 50%-75% up the tree height, they have thinned out enough to allow you to find a sweet spot. You will then either connect the Yagi directly to your cell phone, if it has the required connection port or air card, connect to an amplifier as part of a wireless repeater system or connect to a Wilson 811210 amplifier that can connect to the devices even if they do not have that are otherwise required for direct connection.
How do I get a cellular signal in my 20th floor office? Three ways, assuming you do have a good signal outside, on the ground. One, set our BLACKCAT! Antenna on the floor, a table, filing cabinet, etc., next to the window and connect it directly to the cell phone, if it has the required connection port, connect the BLACKCAT! Antenna to a Wilson Electronics SignalBoost Amplifier 811210 that can connect to the devices even if they do not have that are otherwise required for direct connection, or use the Wilson Electronics DeskTop Repeater Kit 801247 wireless repeater system that is a kit made specifically for such applications.
Are cellular repeaters legal? Wilson’s are and their’s is the only brand we carry. Legal and FCC approved.
Will audio/visual coax cable work with a cellular repeater? Yes, but it repeater/amplifier. Most cell phone repeater/amplifiers are 50 OHM and audio/visual cable has a 75 OHM resistance, or impedance. Our 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 ausio/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 9913 for most cell phone repeater kits, unless unless manufactured to be used with a different coax cable.
What is the gain loss of LMR400 & 9913? First, LMR400 is the generic, or industry, name for this cable and 9913 is the part number of a specific brand of coax 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.
How much coax cable can I use in a cell phone repeater system? That depends upon a number of factors, such as 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 the store 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.
Who makes the best cell phone repeater amplifiers? According to 3rd party verification of test results, Wilson Electronics, for consumer level amplifiers. Click Here to see the test results and verifications, brand by brand.
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 don’t recommend guessing at it. Call us and we will run the formulas for you at no charge - 888-713-1243.
Can multiple service providers be covered with a single cell phone repeater? Yes. Provided you have adequate, unobstructed outside signal strength from the carriers, our Wilson Electronics DB Pro Cell Phone Signal Booster-Repeater Model 841262 will provide cellular signal boost for all carriers, except Nextel, which always needs "stand-alone" signal boosting products. If you need a signal boost for all carriers, including Nextel, for kits that need to support more than fifteen cell phone or computer air cards, and large and/or complex applications, call us toll free to discuss - 888-713-1243.
Can Nextel be repeated in the same building with other 800 MHz companies? Yes, no matter what you have heard. It requires some knowledge and experience to engineer the system, but it is just as E-Z to install as the others. We engineer these type applications regularly for our customers. Call us to discuss - 888-713-1243.
Is a special repeater needed for the new Sprint/Nextel hybrid cell phones? No. Just use the dual band parallel system and substitute the Wilson Nextel amplifier for the standard 800 MHz amplifier. The cost is the same.
How can I boost my cell phone signal in my RV wirelessly? You have a number of options. A few are: Use the Wilson Electronics 3-Way Spade Mounting Bracket 901104 chrome mounting bracket to mount the Wilson Electronics Cell Phone Dual Band Trucker Antenna Model 301101 Trucker Antenna on the back ladder or on a rooftop luggage rack of your RV. Or use the Wilson Electronics Dual Band RV / Trucker Antenna 301119, which should be professionally installed at a service center, because it is to be permanently mounted, which requires a hole to be drilled in the RV’s roof.
With either of these antennas you can then either connect directly to the cell phone, if it has the required connection port, or to an air card, connect the BLACKCAT! Antenna to a Wilson Electronics SignalBoost Amplifier 811210 that can connect to the devices even if they do not have that are otherwise required for direct connection, or use the Wilson Electronics Dual Band Mobile Wireless Repeater Kit 801201 B mobile wireless repeater system that is a kit made specifically to cover an area about the size of an RV driver/passenger area.
If you prefer to have cell phone and/or air card coverage throughout your large RV, check out our Wilson Electronics Dual Band RV Repeater Kit 801245 RV that was designed by the Director of the Wilson Technical Department and tested by him in numerous RV’s at the Wilson Plant and subsequently by many of our customers.
Now for less than $60 you can set our BLACKCAT! Antenna on the dashboard, a table, filing cabinet, etc., next to the window and connect it directly to the cell phone, if it has the required connection port, or connect it to the Wilson Electronics SignalBoost Amplifier 811210 that can connect to the devices even if they do not have that are otherwise required for direct connection
What is an NMO cell phone antenna? It is a permanent mount antenna that requires a hole to be drilled into the vehicle’s roof, trunk or hood. It comes in two parts: the “mast“, or top part and the “mount” or bottom part. The mast and mount screw together above and below the surface to hold both securely. The mount of Wilson’s NMO cellular antennas come with 14’ of RG58 coax cable with a FME Female connector attached. An example of a NMO cell phone antenna is our Wilson Electronics NMO Mount Tri-Mode Cellular Antenna 304203 with Mount 901102.