Cell boosters keep you connected

Cell boosters keep you connected

Highlights

  • Cell booster technology can reduce dropped calls and increase mobile connectivity
  • Boosters are available for buildings, vehicles, and cover one or more mobile devices
  • Technology is affordable and prices start at under $200

I can’t think of anything more frustrating than a dropped call. For those who live and farm in areas with perennially weak mobile connectivity, it’s a serious problem.

It’s not just the phone. Most of the functionality the smartphone offers is compromised when the signal fails. Cell boosters or repeaters can help by amplifying the signal. It must be stressed that these devices cannot create a signal where none exists, but they can often take a weak, single bar and boost it to a usable three- or four-bar connection.  

Choosing the right one

It’s fairly simple to source and install a cell booster in your truck, car, tractor, etc. Ideally, you would select a model that can be moved from vehicle to vehicle. Most have a magnetic antenna that is mounted to the roof of the vehicle. With a cradle-style booster you insert your smartphone into a cradle and use hands-free gear or the speakerphone option on the phone. The disadvantage of this type of booster is that only the phone in the cradle benefits from the signal boost. Those riding with you will not benefit. There are wireless models that enhance and broadcast the signal within an area so multiple phones can benefit, but they tend to be more expensive.

These devices cannot create a signal where none exists, but they can often take a weak, single bar and boost it to a usable three- or four-bar connection.

If you’re like me and have limited home Internet and Wi-Fi options, you can install a cell booster for your house, shop, barn or other buildings to maintain mobile connectivity so you don’t have to step outside to use your smartphone. Installation involves putting up an external receiving antenna on the side or roof of the building to capture the existing signal and send it, via cable, to the booster or amplifier mounted inside. The boosted signal is then transmitted throughout the building via a second antenna. Depending on the size of the building and the construction materials, you may need numerous antennae to keep pushing the signal to all parts of the structure. In general, the bigger the coverage area, the more expensive the booster.

As with most electronic devices, there are numerous buyer’s guide and “top ten” product reviews available, so it’s fairly easy to do some research on what model makes the most sense for your situation.

Know your frequency

Cell phones communicate with cell towers on different frequencies, so before you buy a booster you need to know which frequency your cell phone uses. Your carrier can help you with that. Make sure the booster you buy is compatible with your mobile carrier and that it covers multiple frequency bands including 800 MHz, 1900 MHz, 2G, 3G and 4G.

Prices range from under $200 for a single-phone cradle booster to several thousand dollars for a commercial-scale wireless booster that can service dozens of phones and cover an entire property. You can check products and prices at stores that provide electronics and/or cell phones.

From an AgriSuccess article (March 2017) by Peter Gredig