The best way to know how well your newly installed cell phone signal booster is working is to do a signal test. In the short (just over 1 minute) video above Derek and Paul demonstrate how to do a quick signal test.
In his test Paul views the ‘bars’ signal strength indicator on his phone for the before-and-after-booster comparison. If you always use the same phone to run a signal test then the bars comparison may work just fine for you, as it did for Paul in the video.
But be aware that the bars on your phone is a fairly crude tool to compare signal strength, and not always reliable. We did a previous post on why that’s true called What Do the Bars on Your Phone Mean?
To do a reliably accurate signal test you need to take before and after signal readings in decibels, abbreviated as dBm. We’ve done previous posts that explain how to take these signal strength readings. For Android devices go here Find The Signal Strength of Your Android Phone.
A few things to remember as you test your signal using decibel readings:
Decibels are typically displayed as negative numbers, like -87 for example.
The closer to zero the dBm reading is, the stronger the signal. A signal measuring -87 is stronger than one of -90.
The dBm scale is logarithmic, rather than arithmetic. An improvement of 3 dBm indicates a doubling of signal strength. In the example just above, the -87 reading indicates a signal twice (2x) as strong as the -90 reading. So an improvement of just a few dBm can actually indicate a significantly stronger signal.
When you do the math, the converse is also true. A reading lower by just 3 dBm indicates a signal half as strong. The -90 dBm reading in our example represents a signal half as strong as the -87 reading.
The logarithmic decibel scale is a concept difficult for many people to grasp. We had a beta tester of the eqo Home Cell Booster who expressed disappointment that the eqo Booster only improved the signal in their test location from -115 dBm (virtually too weak to use) to -100 dBm (still a weak signal).
We had to explain that the 15 dBm improvement in signal strength provided by the eqo Booster indicated a signal that is 2 to the fifth power stronger, or 32x. That’s exactly the expected signal strength improvement from the eqo booster.
Depending on the local cell signal environment, the eqo Booster could boost an indoor signal more or less than the 32x baseline. And by doing a signal test, you can know exactly how much boost you are getting.