weBoost Ultimate Guide to Cell Phone Signal Boosters

October 4, 2017 — by KEN PERKINS


Cell Phone Signal Boosters Guide


Click on a topic below to jump to that heading. If you have a question that you don’t see answered here, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page and we’ll post the answer.

What is a cell phone signal booster?
What a cell phone signal booster is not
Do cell phone boosters actually work?
Top 10 signal booster benefits
Which cell phone booster would you recommend for my home or office?
Which booster is best for my vehicle?
Different types of cell signal boosters
No recurring fees
Why you have trouble getting a reliable cell signal
How cell phone signal boosters work
Compatibility with networks and devices
Signal strength
How Do I Know How Strong My Signal Is?
Coverage area
Cell tower location
Tower Antenna
Device Antenna
Power / Gain
Frequency Bands
Cell Service Providers allow booster installation
How do I know a cell phone signal booster will work for me?


What are cell phone signal boosters?

A cell signal booster does just what it sounds like – it boosts voice and data signals so you have fewer dropped calls or lost connections and you get faster data uploads and downloads.

There are cell phone boosters for vehicles and for indoor spaces like your home and office.

Most signal boosters have three components, plus coax cable to connect the components. The components are:

Tower antenna – usually mounted on the roof of a vehicle, or the roof or side of a building. This antenna communicates with the cell tower. It can detect cell signals at levels up to 30 times fainter than the faintest signals your phone can detect

Booster unit – this component amplifies cell signals

Device antenna – this antenna is installed indoors or inside your vehicle and communicates with your phone or other cellular devices in your vehicle, home or office.

Connect 4G-X cell phone signal booster

Connect 4G-X cell signal booster. Booster unit, front; device panel antenna, center; directional tower antenna, right. Also pictured, coax cables.



What a cell phone signal booster is not

– It’s not a source of cell signal. A cell phone booster amplifies and redistributes existing signal. That means a signal booster must have an existing signal to work with. If there is absolutely no detectable signal in a location, a cell booster will not work there.

– A signal booster does not require an Internet connection. As explained in the previous bullet, a signal booster works with existing cell signals. It does not need an Internet connection to work.

– A cell phone booster does not require “pairing” or “syncing” with any phone or other device in order to work with that device. The booster simply boosts signals and makes them available to any cell device within range.


Do cell phone boosters actually work?

Yes they do. Cell phone signals are carried by radio frequency (RF) waves, in the same way as terrestrial radio signals.

Consider the FM radio in a car. Those signals are collected by the antenna, amplified and retransmitted inside the vehicle so you can enjoy music, sporting events or talk show programming.

Cell phone signals operate on a different part of the RF spectrum. But a cell signal booster uses similar technology to collect, amplify and retransmit signals inside your vehicle, home or other indoor space allowing you to enjoy on your cellular devices the voice and data traffic the signals carry.

To be sold in the U.S., signal boosters must be certified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In Canada the certifying body is Industry Canada (IC).

These government certifications are assurance for consumers that (a) cell signal boosters work as they are supposed to, and (b) that they don’t cause harmful interference on the cellular network.

Make sure any booster you purchase is FCC or IC certified. That’s your proof the booster works as promised. To learn more about this topic, read our blog post Do Cell Phone Boosters Actually Work? Or watch this short video.


Top 10 signal booster benefits

1. Stronger cell signal – up to 32x

2. Fewer dropped calls and lost connections

3. Faster data uploads and downloads

4. Fewer no-signal ‘dead zones’

5. Improved audio quality for voice calls

6. Longer battery life on a single charge

7. Texts and voice mails hit your inbox sooner

8. Larger indoor signal coverage area

9. Extended signal range from the cell tower

10. Peace of mind – you know you’re connected


Different types of cell signal boosters

Cell phone boosters fall into two main categories:

Many cell signal boosters are universal – they work with all carriers, with all services and with all cell devices.

Other boosters may work for only one specific carrier (like Verizon only), or work on one (or perhaps two) specific frequency bands, boosting all carriers that use that frequency or frequencies.

Boosters may also be identified by the generations of technology they support – like 3G and 4G. A booster identified as 3G typically will boost signals on both 2G and 3G networks. A 4G booster typically boosts signals on 2G, 3G and 4G networks

Still other boosters are hybrids, for example boosting all carriers’ 2G and 3G services but only one specific carrier’s 4G services.

Before purchasing a cell signal booster, make sure it will work for the signals, network(s) and carrier(s) you need to have boosted. See the Frequency Bands section below.

Signal boosters typically allow multiple simultaneous connections across multiple carriers, but some vehicle boosters like the Drive Sleek below, may provide boosted signals for the driver only.

Drive Sleek

Which cell phone booster would you recommend for my home or office?

Please review the Coverage area section regarding the factors that impact indoor coverage area. Your actual coverage area with any booster can vary as described.

If you need enhanced cell coverage for an area larger than 7,500 square feet, please see our commercial grade cell signal boosters at


Which booster is best for my vehicle?



No subscription or recurring fees

Unless an ongoing maintenance plan is specifically purchased, a cell phone booster is a one-time expense with no subscription or recurring fees.


Why you have trouble getting a reliable cell signal

There are really only two culprits that cause cell phone reception problems: distance and obstructions.

Everyone understands distance – if your phone is too far from the cell tower, then the signal will be weak or perhaps undetectable.

Obstructions are not so well understood. Below is a list of the most common signal blockers:

Terrain – cell signal operates in line-of-sight fashion. Any terrain features between you and the cell tower – hills, mountains, ridges, bluffs, etc. – will block cell signals.

Man-made objects – in urban settings, buildings are the main blockers of cell signals. Radio frequency (RF) signals can’t easily pass through metal, concrete or oxide-coated glass. So when you are inside almost any building, you can have reception problems. Or conversely if you are outside and surrounded by tall buildings, like on the street in an urban city center location, cell reception can be spotty.

Vehicles – metal and safety glass, the materials making up the outer shell of most vehicles do an excellent job of blocking RF signals. When you’re inside a vehicle, it may be hard to get a good signal.

Vegetation – It’s hard to believe, but trees, shrubbery, or almost any kind of foliage absorbs cell signals. Here’s the kicker – even dust particles in the atmosphere can weaken RF signals. Crazy, right?

To learn more about this topic, read our blog post Why Do I Have Such Poor Cell Phone Reception? You can also watch this short video.


How Cell Phone Signal Boosters Work

Mobile phones are really two-way radios. Your cell phone, at least the communications function, is essentially a two-way radio operating behind a modern user interface. Your mobile phone communicates with the cell tower by means of radio frequency (RF) signals.

A cellular signal booster works like this:

Detecting and collecting very faint cell signals (much fainter than your phone can detect)

Helping those faint signal bypass various obstructions

Amplifying the faint signals to a useable level

Broadcasting the amplified signals to an interior space – like your home, office or vehicle – so they can be picked up by your phone or other cellular device

When you use your phone, the process works in reverse to send amplified signals back to the cell tower to complete the communication loop. To learn more, read our blog post How Does a Cell Phone Booster Work? Or watch this short video.


Compatibility with networks and devices

weBoost cell signal boosters boost voice and data signals on all North American cell carrier networks and on all cellular-enabled devices, including phones, tablets and cell modems.

Also, 4G phones will work on a weBoost 3G cell signal booster, although the signal boost will be limited to the available 3G signal.

And 3G phones will work with a weBoost 4G booster, again with the signal boost limited to the available 3G signal. For more information watch this short video.

Click to shop AT&T signal boosters

Click to shop Sprint signal boosters

Click to shop T-Mobile signal boosters

Click to shop U.S. Cellular signal boosters

Click to shop Verizon signal boosters


Signal Strength

The strength of the signal detected by your cell phone booster system is important because the stronger the signal is BEFORE it’s amplified, the greater indoor coverage area in square feet or square meters the system will deliver.

This is a real-world limit that the laws of physics place on any signal booster.

Think of the booster system as a megaphone. A megaphone amplifies your voice, but if you whisper into the megaphone then that amplified whisper won’t be audible over much distance at all.

However, if you yell into the megaphone, your amplified yell can be heard over a much further distance. And if you don’t say anything into the megaphone, there is no sound produced at all.

A cell signal booster system works much the same way. The stronger the cell signal is before it’s amplified by your booster system, the greater indoor coverage area the system can provide.


How Do I Know How Strong My Signal Is?

Of course you can look at the bars on your phone screen to see the relative strength of your current mobile signal. The key word is “relative.” The truth is, the bars on your phone don’t tell you much about exactly how strong (or weak) your cell phone signal is.

Each mobile phone manufacturer uses their own algorithm to sense the strength level of available signal. And then they show you however many, or few, bars they choose.

Of course that means it’s impossible to compare signal strength bars between different phone models. My phone’s three bars may well represent a stronger signal than your phone’s four bars.

But there’s no way to know that by viewing the respective bars graphics. Bottom line – the bars just don’t mean much.

The only reliable way to determine how strong a signal is available for your phone is to take a strength reading in decibels, or dBm.

Decibels are a standard unit of measure, so when you take a dBm reading you know the absolute strength of the available signal.

dBm is typically expressed as a negative number, -88 for example. The closer to zero the reading is, the stronger the cell phone signal. So for example, -79 dBm is a stronger signal than -88 dBm.

A reading of -50 is one of the strongest signals you will see. When a signal is weaker than -100 dBm, that’s a pretty weak signal. If the signal gets much weaker than that, you likely won’t have service.

Virtually every smart phone out there can take a signal strength reading in dBm. We’ve posted on our blog How to Find a Signal Strength Reading on an Android Phone, and How to Find a Signal Strength Reading on an iPhone.

Click through to the appropriate post to find out how to see your signal strength reading in dBm. You can also watch this short video.


Coverage area

A cell signal booster for vehicles will provide boosted signal for either (a) the driver only, if it’s a cradle booster, or (b) driver plus passengers.

Indoor signal boosters are typically described by their approximate signal coverage area in square feet.

Two factors impact the size of the indoor coverage area a booster is able to provide: (1) the strength of the unboosted signal available outside the building, and (2) the system gain supplied by the booster.

The stronger the available outside signal, the larger the indoor coverage area a booster can provide. And the higher system gain supplied by the booster, the larger the indoor coverage area.

So, all other factors being equal, a booster with specified system gain of 70 dBm will cover a larger indoor area than one spec’ed at 50 dBm gain.

Ideally, a high gain booster and a strong outside signal would always provide the required indoor coverage area. Unfortunately, few situations are ideal.

It’s best to have a good idea how large an indoor area you need to cover with cell signal, and how strong your outside signal is, before deciding which booster system to install.


Cell tower location

One of the simplest and most helpful things you can do to improve cell reception is to find the location of your cell tower. Typically if you know where the cell tower is located, you know which direction your signal is coming from.

Once you know that, you can effectively aim a directional antenna or take other steps to improve cell reception. Knowing the origin of your cell signal can help you understand why you have poor reception, and how you may be able to improve it.

One of my favorite resources is You can enter your location by street address and the search engine will return a list of all towers within a three-mile radius. The site also plots all the cell towers on Google Maps.

For those towers that were registered with a street address, it will display the address. If no street address was entered at the time the tower was registered, you’ll have to make do with GPS coordinates. You also can see additional data like the tower’s owner, height and date of construction.

Another very useful site is Enter your zip code and click Go. The search results are a Google Maps display with all nearby towers plotted.

An awesome feature of this site is the filtering capability. You can filter the plot display by carrier. So you can show only the locations of Verizon towers plotted on the map, for example.

To learn more about this topic, read our blog post How to Find Cell Tower Locations. You can also watch this short video.


Tower Antenna

Sometimes referred to as the “outside” antenna because it’s typically located on the exterior of a vehicle or building, the tower antenna is the part of a cell signal booster that communicates with the cell tower, which is the signal source.

Most signal boosters have a stand-alone tower antenna connected to the booster unit by coax cable. But in some booster models the tower antenna and the booster are integrated into a signal unit.

There are two types of tower antenna – directional and omnidirectional. The more common type is the directional antenna. This type receives signals from a specific direction and must be pointed directly at the signal source for best performance.

In contrast, the omni antenna has a 360-degree beam width and receives signals from all directions.

All signal boosters are certified by the FCC and Industry Canada with their specific model of tower antenna, unless the antenna and booster are integrated as described above. Substituting any other antenna for the one that came with your booster may violate FCC and IC regulations.


Device Antenna

Sometimes called the “inside” antenna because it’s located inside a vehicle or building, the device antenna is the part of a cell signal booster that communicates with phones and other cellular devices.

Most signal boosters have a stand-alone device antenna connected to the booster unit by coax cable. But in some booster models the device antenna and the booster are integrated into a signal unit. There are multiple designs of device antennas.

All signal boosters are certified by the FCC and Industry Canada with their specific model of device antenna, unless the antenna and booster are integrated as described above. Substituting any other antenna for the one that came with your booster may violate FCC and IC regulations.


Power / Gain

Gain is simply the measure of a booster or antenna’s signal output relative to its signal input. Gain is usually expressed in decibels (dB), a standard unit of measure for signal strength.

If a booster provides a maximum 50 dB gain, then the boosted signal coming out of the unit is up to 50 dB stronger than the unboosted signal that went into the unit.

In practical terms, gain represents the relative level of signal boost that a booster and/or antenna is capable of providing.

All other factors being equal, a booster with a higher gain value will provide a stronger signal and/or a larger coverage area than one with a lower gain value.



Coax cable is used in all cell signal boosters to connect the antenna(s) to the booster unit. All signal boosters are certified by the FCC and Industry Canada with their specific lengths of coax cable. Substituting any other cables for those that came with your booster may violate FCC and IC regulations.


Frequency Bands

As explained above, cell phones use the radio frequency spectrum to communicate. Specific frequency bands (or ranges) of the RF spectrum are assigned either to a specific cell carrier (Verizon, AT&T, etc), or to specific services (3G voice and data). See the Different Types of Cell Signal Boosters section above.

For a cell phone booster to work with your device(s) and carrier(s), it must boost signal on the frequency bands assigned to your carrier(s). This is usually a simple process. All universal signal boosters will clearly state “Works with all North American carriers” or some similar phrase.

If a booster has a “3G” designation, you can assume it will boost 3G voice and data, but not 4G LTE. To boost 4G LTE service, you need a booster designated 4G.

If you are not sure a booster will work for your carrier and devices, ask the retailer which specific carriers and services work with the booster.




Generally speaking, vehicle cell signal boosters can be installed quicker than indoor boosters. Installation of the weBoost Drive Sleek booster might take between 5 and 10 minutes, and the Drive 4G-M or Drive 4G-X booster slightly longer.

The eqo 4G Home Cell booster, designed specifically for quick set up, can be installed in as little as 60 seconds.

A simple installation of the Home 4G indoor booster might require 10 – 15 minutes, and for the Connect 4G booster you would need to allow more time. Obviously if the building requires a more complex installation, like multiple device-side antennas or pulling coax cable through an attic or crawl space, the job may take 2 or 3 hours.

eqo 4G Home Cell Booster


How much a cell signal booster costs depends on the model you need.

If you need a cell phone booster for a vehicle, a driver-only booster like the weBoost Drive 3G-S can be purchased for well under $100.

The weBoost Drive 4G-X, which provides 4G LTE coverage for multiple simultaneous users and max uplink/downlink power for reliable connections at long distances from the nearest cell tower, will likely cost a little over $400.

If you need a booster for your home or office, a weBoost Home 3G indoor booster may cover up to 1,200 square feet (1-2 rooms) with signal for about $200.

But if you need 4G LTE coverage for up to 7,500 square feet, the weBoost Connect 4G-X will retail for around $800.

As a general rule:

– a 3G signal booster will cost less than a 4G booster designed to cover an equivalent area;

– a booster designed to provide signal coverage for a larger area will cost more than one designed to cover a smaller area:

– for vehicle boosters, a one-user cradle booster costs less than a wireless multiple-user model.

Shop Home & Office cell phone boosters

Shop Car, Truck and RV cell phone boosters


Cell service providers allow booster installation

In the U.S. and Canada all cell service providers have given their customers permission to install a cell phone booster as long as the following conditions are met:

(1) The installed booster is certified by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission or Industry Canada respectively. Of course all weBoost, zBoost and WilsonPro cell signal boosters are FCC and IC certified.

(2) The booster is registered with the cell service provider.* Most service providers have set up online registration pages where a booster purchaser can register. For a list of links to the registration pages for the largest U.S. carriers, visit

If your cell service provider is not listed on that page, contact your service provider to find out how to register your booster.

*As of this writing, condition (2) above was not yet in force in Canada. However, it is anticipated that Canada will require registration of cell phone boosters beginning during calendar year 2016. If you are in Canada, please contact your cell service provider to find out about signal booster registration requirements.


How do I know a cell phone signal booster will work for me?

To determine if a cell signal booster will work for you, go outside your home or office and make a call on your phone. If you cannot complete the connection because of weak signal, move to another location – like a different side of the building – and try again.

When you find a location where you can successfully make a call, that side of the building exterior is where you should place the tower antenna.

A rule of thumb: if you are receiving a strong enough signal to make a call outside the building, then the cell signal is probably strong enough for a signal booster to amplify the signal and provide coverage inside the building.

If you cannot find an outside location where you can successfully complete a connection, then the available signal may be too weak for a cell phone signal booster to detect and amplify.


Did you like this post? Find it helpful? Do you have questions about any of these topics? Please let us know how we’re doing by commenting below.


Related Stuff

To find out more about cell signal boosters, how they work and how they can help with your cell reception problems, check out our blog here:

weBoost Blog

and our YouTube channel here:

weBoost YouTube Channel

You can also follow us on social media through any of the channels below for high-quality, informative content:





TAGS: cell phone signal booster, faq

For buildings greater than 7500 sq ft, we recommend our WilsonPro brand of products.
signal bars
Improve your signal up to 32x

    Comments (18)

    John on January 14, 2016 at 8:07 pm said:

    Will it work in the UK?

      Ken Perkins on January 14, 2016 at 9:04 pm said:

      Unfortunately no. weBoost signal boosters are tuned to frequencies used by mobile phone carriers in North America. Mobile phone service in the UK and other EU countries operates on different frequencies, not supported by weBoost signal boosters.

      Also the regulatory environment in the UK has been hostile to mobile phone signal boosters, with the public generally banned from using such devices. This regulatory attitude dates from the days 15 or 16 years ago when signal boosters first appeared. At that time mobile phone boosters were not particularly sophisticated in their use of filtering technology. As a result those older boosters would sometimes cause interference on the mobile phone network. The mobile service operators were naturally unhappy about this and regulators responded by banning signal boosters.

      Nowadays technology has progressed and network interference issues have been overcome. Both U.S. and Canada regulatory agencies test mobile signal boosters to assure that they (a) boost mobile signal as claimed by the manufacturer, and (b) include proper safeguards to prevent any network interference.

    Don Hoodenpyle on February 25, 2016 at 11:58 pm said:

    I cannot find instructions to attach the antenna to the pole. There are no holes to attach the base to the antenna. How do I attach it.

    weBoost Support on February 26, 2016 at 5:14 pm said:

    Thank you for your question, Don Hoodenpyle. We would like to work with you directly to help determine which antenna you are working with. There are basic installation pictures and instructions on the specific product pages on our site. If you type in your product name, once you select the booster kit, the PDF files will be located near the bottom of the page on the left hand side. For more detailed help, you can reach us here:

    Erik on February 27, 2016 at 5:27 pm said:

    Cant believe nobody has asked the most basic Question.
    How are each powered? ?

    weBoost Support on February 29, 2016 at 4:50 pm said:


    Thank you for your question. Our boosters are powered by either a wall outlet, or standard cigarette lighter. As long as you have an adequate power source, proper antenna separation, and decent outside signal our boosters will have what they need to work. For additional questions, and for specific power requirements per booster, please reach out to us here:

    Francois van Heerden on March 7, 2016 at 10:55 am said:


    I’ve just read the last comment (will it work in the UK) so there is no chance that it will work in South Africa. I see that there are local companies importing the product, spoke to one sales adviser here in SA but he had no clue on WEBOOST products. your advice would be greatly appreciated.


    weBoost Support on March 7, 2016 at 4:46 pm said:

    Francois van Heerden, thank you for your comment. Here are the frequencies we do support at this time:

    700 MHz, 850 MHz, 1900 Mhz, and 1700/2100 MHz.

    In order to identify if we are able to help boost your carriers frequencies, feel free to reach us directly for more detailed assistance. You can reach us here:

    Toby on March 8, 2016 at 12:45 am said:

    Can I detach the omni antenna from my system and install a yagi antenna in its place?

    weBoost Support on March 8, 2016 at 5:57 pm said:

    Thank you for your question, Toby. There is a chance you could use a directional antenna in place of your Omni antenna. We recommend reaching out to us directly, to ensure that you stay compliant with the FCC, as they have specific rules and standards when it comes to antenna pairing. You can reach us directly here:

    Ronald Zurawski on March 15, 2016 at 11:34 pm said:

    Is there a way to connect your cell phone booster to my indoor “old style” corded phones?

    weBoost Support on March 16, 2016 at 7:01 pm said:

    Ronald Zurawski, thank you for your question. Unfortunately, there is not way for us to directly attach our boosters to older style corded or landline phone. We would like to work with you directly to see if we have a solution that can best fit your needs. You can reach us here:

    Dave on March 23, 2016 at 4:31 pm said:

    Hi folks,
    Just want to say that we went from zero signal on bad days and a very poor signal on good days to no more dropped calls and calling and answering from any room in the home. We are located in a river valley with hills all around us. Our closest tower is 9 miles away. From the time I opened the box to the time I made my first clear phone call, 1 hour and 45 minutes elapsed. This included drilling holes in sill box and running all cables. We are happy campers in Michigan’s upper peninsula. Thanks. Dave

      Ken Perkins on March 23, 2016 at 5:09 pm said:

      Dave thanks for reading and commenting. Glad to hear you now have reliable cell service. The UP is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Coincidentally we have 2 colleagues here at Wilson/weBoost with family ties to Sault Ste. Marie.

    greg walde on April 8, 2016 at 2:57 am said:

    how to register with tracphone

    weBoost Support on April 11, 2016 at 2:53 pm said:


    Thank you for your question. Typically you should be able to reach out to Tracfone’s Customer Service and register the booster from there. You may also be able to use this link here:

    For questions and additional support, feel free to reach us directly, here:

    Don Martin on April 23, 2016 at 10:03 pm said:

    I would like instructions on how to install as I want to rechecked my booster to make sure it is working to the full capacity.

    weBoost Support on April 25, 2016 at 5:34 pm said:


    Thank you for your comment. In order to get you the correct install guide and necessary support, we recommend reaching out to us directly. You can reach us here:

    We would be happy to send you a copy of the full install guide, for your exact model and answer any additional questions you may have. We look forward to your reply.