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Say goodbye to dropped calls

In our last post, we described the potential causes of poor cellular signal.  If you are a business owner, good cellular signal in your office or store is necessity to maintain customer and employee satisfaction.  If you’re a building owner, tenants will look elsewhere if your building does not have good cellular signal.  Cell phone signal boosters are a cost-effective way of addressing this issue.

Cell phone signal boosters

A booster system has three main components: (1) A donor (outside) antenna that receives the signal from the tower; (2) an electronic signal amplifier that boosts signal strength; (3) a broadcast (inside) antenna(s) to retransmit the boosted signal inside a building or vehicle.

These systems are bi-directional. When your phone transmits back to the tower, the above process is repeated in reverse order. Signal boosters are particularly effective in areas of weak signal or in buildings that cellular signals cannot penetrate.

  • Signal boosters operate independently of the Internet.
  • Signal boosters maintain the connection when your cell phone switches from receiving signal through the signal booster to receiving signal from the cell tower, and vice versa.
  • They are a one-time purchase with no monthly charge.
  • Signal boosters can amplify signals for multiple carriers and will boost both voice and data.
  • Signal boosters can support simultaneous connections of multiple cellular devices on different carriers.
  • Various models of signal boosters are available for building or vehicle installation.
  • Signal boosters also help conserve your device’s battery charge. If you have poor signal, your phone is constantly looking for a better connection, draining your battery
  • Depending on the system configuration they can cover an area from a single room up to a large building.

A signal booster does not create a cellular signal. There must be a detectable signal available for a booster to work.  There is almost always cell signal outdoors in urban areas.  However, in some of our rural installation projects, we were not able to detect usable signal outdoors at ground level.  We have still been able to find signal for those customers in a number of ways:

  • Using a high-gain, directional antenna
  • Using a non-penetrating roof mount, we install a mast on top of the building.
  • If the building doesn’t give us enough height, we install a pole.
  • To get past terrain and forest obstructions, we’ve buried outdoor cabling and mounted the donor antenna to a pole higher up on a ridge away from the building and in an opening in the forest.

The solution for your building may be extremely simple, or may require extensive installation work. Because cell signal varies greatly, and the RF characteristics of buildings vary greatly, a site survey is generally needed to accurately determine what materials are needed, where equipment should be installed, and what the level of effort will be.

Site Survey

A site survey refers to the preparatory work needed prior to installing a cell signal booster. A site survey accurately determines the source of the strongest cell signal, which shows us where to install the donor antenna(s). A survey also indicates the areas inside the building with the strongest and weakest signals, which can indicate best installation points for indoor antennas.  A survey also enables us to determine much cable will be required and which splitters, filters, or other accessories are needed.

We use a combination of using readings from cellular signal meters and diagnostics from cell phones to determine signal strength and signal quality outdoors.  The outdoor signal readings determine much of the design.  We then use online resources and a directional antenna to determine where the best nearby towers are for each provider.  If like most customers, you have a good signal outdoors or on the building roof, we can proceed with the indoor portion of the site survey.  Otherwise, we will look for other ways of finding usable signal at your location.

Our design with a predictive heat map

If the building is a residence or small office, we can often just install a single broadcast antenna indoors and blanket the space with signal.  However, with larger buildings, we will use a floorplan and mark the signal strength for all carriers at various locations throughout the building, looking for the weakest areas.  We can then map where your broadcast antennas should be installed.  Then we can figure out cable lengths and pathways.  From there we can provide a completed design and accurate quote.

If you are interested in solving your cellular signal problems, give us a call today at 501-392-5755 or use the form below to get in touch with us to schedule your cellular site survey today.