It has become common nowadays for people to use cell service booster to improve the quality of cellular signals both at home, office and in their vehicles. This enables uninterrupted signal reception and mobile internet connection which is very essential in this internet age. Besides, the trend is catching up in European countries as the work culture is shifting towards remote work and in this scenario the importance of cell phone signal boosters is even more important. The purpose of this article is to give you a better understanding about this topic of cell signal boosters, read on to know more.
Cellular Frequency Bands
Before discussing cell service booster, it is important to have a basic understanding about different cellular frequency bands as it is crucial for any kind of cellular devices including cell service boosters. The cellular services that we avail run on different bands of frequencies that are licenced to different carriers and they are listed below.
- 700 MHz band
- 850 MHz band
- 1900 MHz band
- 2100 MHz band
- 2300 MHz band
- 2500 MHz band
The higher the frequency of the band, the cellular signal gets more attenuated i.e. it will be harder for it to penetrate building materials. However, a higher frequency signal can carry or transfer more data. You should also keep in mind that no carrier will be using just one frequency band at a time in a particular area. Your phone will be switching between different bands depending on which one offers the clearest signal. So, when you install a cell service booster, it is easier to boost a 700MHz signal than a 2100MHz signal because of the carrier signal attenuation.
Working Of A Cellular Signal Booster
A cellular signal booster, also known as cell repeater, basically works by amplifying the carrier signal and transmitting it to your cellular phone. It consists of three main parts and they are listed below.
- Outdoor Antenna: This is also known as the donor antenna, it receives and sends cellular signals to and from the carrier’s cellular tower. There are different types of outdoor antenna and the quality of the amplified signal depends on it. Also, using a directional outside antenna will aim at the signal from a particular carrier’s cellular tower and this makes it stronger. In addition, it will also reduce inter-cell interference.
- Amplifier: This is sometimes called bidirectional amplifier or repeater, because it amplifies the signal coming from the cellular tower, as well as going back to the tower. It is connected to the outdoor antenna with a coaxial cable.
- Indoor Antenna(s): The indoor antenna transmits the amplified signal from the amplifier, as well as receive signal from the cellphone to be transmitted back to the cellular tower. Dome antennas and panel antennas are the two common types of indoor antennas.
Measuring Cellular Signal Quality And Signal Strength
Before looking into measuring cellular signal strength and signal quality, we will discuss them.
- Signal Strength: It is the measure of cellular signal strength when it reaches your cellular phone and it is measured in dBm.
- Signal Quality: It is the ratio of the source signal from the cellular tower to the interference and noise in the cellular signal received by your cellular phone and is measured in dB.
Most cellular carriers use LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks. Here, the signal strength and signal quality are called RSRP and SINR. These are explained below.
- Reference Signal Received Power (RSRP): This is a measure of LTE carrier’s signal strength, strong signals measure around -70 dBm RSRP and weak signals are around -100 dBm RSRP.
- Signal to Interference Plus Noise Ratio (SINR): This is a measure of LTE carrier’s signal quality, clear signals have SINR value of over 10 dB and low quality signals have SINR value below 5 dB.
To check LTE signal strength (RSRP) on android phones, you can download applications from the playstore and it will show cellular signal strength in decibel-milliwatts (dBm). Similarly, there are apps to check LTE signal quality (SINR) as well.
The most important part of any cellular signal booster is the amplifier and there are two important specification factors that you must consider.
- Gain: It is measured in dB and is a measure of how much the cellular signal is amplified. The larger the gain, the better.
- Downlink Output Power: This is the maximum strength with which the inside antenna can retransmit the amplified cellular signal and it is measured in dBm. The larger the value, the bigger the coverage area and vice versa.
If the outdoor signal received by the donor antenna is weak i.e. around -80 dBm RSRP or less, the amplifier will not reach the maximum downlink output power. So, in this scenario you will have to focus on getting a cell service booster with an amplifier that has maximum gain. On the contrary, if the outside cellular signal is strong i.e. -70 dBm RSRP or higher, the amplifier will reach the maximum power output. In this situation, you can focus on the downlink output power of the signal booster.