Cell Phone Booster & Cell Phone Repeater FAQ
What to know before you buy a cell phone signal booster / cell phone repeater
What is a cell phone repeater system? A typical system consists of an outside antenna, an amplifier that requires AC or DC power and an inside antenna. The inside antenna is sometimes attached to the amplifier on less powerful systems.
How do cellular phone repeaters work? For incoming calls, the outside antenna, called a “donor” antenna, picks up the signal, boosts it and sends it to the amplifier via a coax cable that connects the two devices. The amplifier boosts the signal again and projects it wirelessly over a given area, through the inside antenna. For outgoing calls the sequence is reversed.
What is a cellular signal? Cell phone signals, like television and radio signals, are radio frequency signals, or waves. Technically, they are electromagnetic waves.
What are cellular frequencies? They are radio frequency levels. The FCC controls the air waves in America and approves different frequency levels for each service provider, or carrier. Typically, 800 MHz to 894 MHz and 1850 MHz to 1990 MHz are reserved for Canada, North America and South America. The 800 MHz and 1800 MHz frequencies are reserved for other continents.
Why can”t I get a cell phone signal inside a building? Radio frequency signals at the cellular level just will not penetrate solid building materials any more dense than, say, sheetrock. They will not penetrate asphalt or concrete shingles, radiant barriers, brick or most wood, even pressboard types. If you can use a cell phone or computer air card in a building, it is likely because it is close enough to the cell phone tower and situated so the signals go through uncovered, non-tinted windows.
If you have a good signal outside, the least expensive solution will be to set a high gain antenna like our 9 dBi Blackcat! on an inside window sill and connect it directly to your cell phone with an adapter made for it.
If your cell phone doesn’t have an external port, your likely solution will be a cellular phone signal booster / wireless repeater system, like the Wilson DeskTop Repeater Kit, which broadcasts signals over an area, so there is no need for an antenna port on your cell phone.
In the US who uses which cellular frequencies? Typically, Sprint and Tmobile use 1900 MHz. ATT, Verizon and Alltel use both 850 MHz and 1900 MHz. Nextel, the walkie-talkie part of Sprint/Nextel uses 806/866 MHz.
What is the difference between 3g and 4g? “G” stands for “generation” as in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. Each new generation is able to upload and download significantly more data at the same time than the previous generation either through increased portals or higher technology. There never would have been an iPhone without the 3rd generation technology.
For a detailed explanation of “generation” differences visit Farpoint Group’s demo at Telecombooksblog.com.
What do the cell phone acronyms mean? They refer to various digital code reading technologies for cell phones and computer air cards / data cards. See below:
CDMA: Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA) is a digital wireless service that transfers data at rates from 40 to 144 Kbps. Unlike GSM, which assigns a specific frequency to each user, CDMA uses every channel to use the full available spectrum.
EDGE: Enhanced Data for Global Evolution (EDGE) is a faster GSM wireless service, that can give data rates up to 384 Kbps. It is based on the GSM standard and uses CDMA.
EV-DO: Evolution, Data Optimized (EV-DO) is a high-speed wireless data connection technology in the CDMA network. This technology allows users access to high-speed internet through portable devices up to 3.1 Mbps.
GPRS: General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is a packet oriented Mobile Data Service available for 3G cell phones. It provides data rates from 56 up to 114 kbit/s and us used with services such as Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) access, Short Message Service (SMS), Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), and for Internet communication services such as email and World Wide Web access.
GSM: Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) is a digital cellular system that uses TDMA, allows a frequency to admit multiple calls and simultaneous channels of data.
HSDPA: High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) is a 3G (third generation) cellular phone data code reading technology in the HSPA family, working with UMTS to have higher data transfer speeds and capacity. Current HSDPA deployments support down-link speeds of 1.8, 3.6, 7.2 and 14.4 Mbit/s.
For operational reasons, service providers may cap this rate to lower rates than the typical maximum 3.6 Mbit/s that most HSDPA handsets support. Voice calls are usually prioritized over data transfer.
IDEN: Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (IDEN) uses TDMA technology to give cellular communication of voice, messaging, digital two-way radio and data transfer.
PCS: Personal communication service (PCS) is a second-generation mobile communications technology also referred to as digital cellular. The digital service, which works over CDMA and TDMA interfaces, operates at the 1900 MHz frequency range. People sometimes think PCS is a SPRINT product, they were, in fact, just one of the first companies in America to use it.
UTMS: Universal Mobile Telecommunications System is one of the third-generation cell phone data code reading technologies. It is used in the US and Canada by ATT. Currently, the most common form of UMTS uses WCDMA as the underlying air wave interface. On some smart cell phones and computer air cards the screen may show WCDMA when UTMS is in use. Technically, they would both be in use.
It works GSM interfaces. UMTS, using W-CDMA, supports up to 14.0 Mbit/s data transfer rates in theory (with HSDPA), although at the moment users in deployed networks can expect a transfer rate of up to 384 kbit/s for R99 handsets, and 7.2 Mbit/s for HSDPA handsets in the downlink connection.
W-CDMA: W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) is a type of GSM digital cellular network. W-CDMA is a wideband spread-spectrum digital technology that achieves higher data speeds and supports more users. W-CDMA using UTMS, supports up to 14.0 Mbit/s data transfer rates in theory (with HSDPA), although at the moment users in deployed networks can expect a transfer rate of up to 384 kbit/s for R99 handsets, and 7.2 Mbit/s for HSDPA handsets in the downlink connection.
Is there a “passive” cell phone repeater? No, even though some people claim to make or sell them. Radio frequencies need power to be pushed, or repeated. That”s what cell phone towers are, repeater towers. They require huge amounts of power (just look at the size of the cables on one), like radio and television towers. If power was not needed to push the signals, your service provider would need only one tower to serve the world. In other words, if “passive” repeaters worked, there would be no need for “active” ones.
How far will a cell phone repeater broadcast the signal? That depends on a number of things: the current outside signal strength at the place where the cellular phone repeater”s outside antenna will be installed, the gain of that antenna, the amplifier, how much cable will be used and which frequency you want to boost. To compute the coverage area for your application – Call us at 888-713-1243 and we will do it for you.
How do I know what components to buy for a cell phone repeater? That depends on a number of things: the current outside signal strength at the place where the repeater”s outside antenna will be installed, the gain of that antenna, the amplifier, how much cable will be used and which frequency you want to boost.
To make it easier for our customers, we have assembled cellular phone amplifier / cellular phone repeater kits for both building and mobile use. The cellular repeater system that will cover the area inside most homes and small offices is the Wilson Model 801245 B. To view all of repeater system kits for buildings, visit www.unwiredsignal.com.
Our wireless repeater system for most vehicles and smaller boats, it is the Wilson Model 801201 B. To see our repeater system and amplifier kits for cars, trucks, RV”s & boats, visit unwiredsignal.com. To compute the coverage area for your application Call us at 888-713-1243 and we will do it for you.
Can a cellular repeater system boost a weak outside signal? Yes. However, setting up a cell phone amplifier / cellular repeater it is not for the amateur to attempt. It is a normal part of our business, so give us a call if this describes you and your situation.
My next door neighbor can use her cell phone inside, why can”t I? For the same reason you can talk on your cell phone on one side of the street and not on the other. Your house may be blocked from the signal by a tree(s), it may be blocked by her house, it may be lower in elevation and, of course, she may have a different service provider with a tower better located.
Why do I get a good signal in the winter but not in the spring and summer? The trees between you and the tower have leafed out, most likely. You can likely solve this problem by using a pole mounted Yagi antenna elevated to a height that will allow it to “see” the signals it is going after. Usually, between 50%-75% up the tree height, they have thinned out enough to allow you to find a sweet spot. You will then either connect the Yagi directly to your cell phone, if it has the required connection port or air card, connect to an amplifier as part of a wireless repeater system or connect to a Wilson 811210 amplifier that can connect to the devices even if they do not have that are otherwise required for direct connection.
How do I get a cellular signal in my 20th floor office? Three ways, assuming you do have a good signal outside, on the ground. One, set our BLACKCAT! Antenna on the floor, a table, filing cabinet, etc., next to the window and connect it directly to the cell phone, if it has the required connection port, connect the BLACKCAT! Antenna to a Wilson Model 811210 amplifier that can connect to the devices even if they do not have that are otherwise required for direct connection, or use the Wilson Model 801245 DeskTop wireless repeater system that is a kit made specifically for such applications .
Are cellular repeaters legal? Wilson”s are and their”s is the only brand we carry. Legal and FCC approved.
Will audio/visual coax cable work with a cellular repeater? Yes, but it repeater/amplifier. Most cell phone repeater/amplifiers are 50 OHM and audio/visual cable has a 75 OHM resistance, or impedence. Our Wilson 801262 repeater is 75 OHMs on the inside antenna side, 50 OHM on the outside antenna side. This corresponds with Wilson outdoor yagi antennas. Therefore, if your home or business is pre-wired with ausio/visual cable the Wilson 801262 can be used with it.
What kind of coax cable should be used for a cell phone repeater? LMR400 or 9913.
What is the gain loss of LMR400 & 9913? 3.9 dB @ 850 MHz and 6.5 @ 1900 MHz. RG8X loses about twice the that loss and RG58 loses aboutto below 4 times that loss.
How much coax cable can I use in a cell phone repeater system? That depends upon a number of factors. LMR400 and 9913 coax cable both loose about 3.9 dB per 100 feet. If you want to use substantially cable more than is in any of our systems, please call us at the store and we will be able to guide you so that you can use the cable lengths you want without reducing the signal coverage area below what you need.
Who makes the best cell phone repeater amplifiers? According to 3rd party verification of test results, Wilson Electronics, for consumer level amplifiers.
Why a Yagi vs. omni-directional antenna for cellular repeaters? Yagi antennas have roughly twice the gain of omni-directional cell phone antennas. Also, all of the Yagi antenna”s gain is pointing in one direction and it”s elements collect and hold the signal better, so it is more efficient. Therefore, more coax cable can be used with a Yagi antenna vs. an omni-directional antenna.
Can multiple inside antenna be used with a cellular repeater? Yes. How many depends on many of the variables used in determining the coverage area of a system with a single inside antenna. We don”t recommend guessing at it. Call us and we will run the formulas for you at no charge – 888-713-1243.
Can multiple service providers be covered with a single cell phone repeater? Yes. It is something we do daily for our customers. The cost is increased with the addition of each service provider. When covering all four major providers, the cost increase can be significant. Call us to discuss – 888-713-1243.
Can Nextel be repeated in the same building with other 800 MHz companies? Yes, no matter what you have heard. It requires some knowledge and experience to engineer the system, but it is just as E-Z to install as the others. We engineer these type applications regularly for our customers. Call us to discuss – 888-713-1243.
Is a special repeater needed for the new Sprint/Nextel hybrid cell phones? No. Just use the dual band parallel system and substitute the Wilson Nextel amplifier fo the standard 800 MHz amplifier. The cost is the same.
How can I boost my cell phone signal in my RV wirelessly? You have a number of options. A few are: Use the Wilson Model 901104 chrome mounting bracket to mount the Wilson Model 301101 Trucker Antenna on the back ladder or on a rooftop luggage rack of your RV. Or use the Wilson Model 301189 RV Trucker Antenna, which should be professionally installed at a service center, because it is to be permanently mounted, which requires a hole to be drilled in the RV”s roof.
With either of these antennas you can then either connect directly to the cell phone, if it has the required connection port, or to an air card, connect the BLACKCAT! Antenna to a Wilson 811210 amplifier that can connect to the devices even if they do not have that are otherwise required for direct connection, or use the Wilson Model 80201 mobile wireless repeater system that is a kit made specifically to cover an area about the size of an RV driver/passenger area.
If you prefer to have cell phone and/or air card coverage throughout your large RV, check out our Wilson Model 801245 RV repeater system that was designed by the Director of the Wilson Technical Department and tested by him in numerous RV”s at the Wilson Plant and subsequently by many of our customers.
Now for less than $70 you can set our BLACKCAT! Antenna on the dashboard, a table, filing cabinet, etc., next to the window and connect it directly to the cell phone, if it has the required connection port, or connect it to the Wilson 811210 amplifier that can connect to the devices even if they do not have that are otherwise required for direct connection
What is an NMO cell phone antenna? It is a permanent mount antenna that requires a hole to be drilled into the vehicle”s roof, trunk or hood. It comes in two parts: the “mast”, or top part and the “mount” or bottom part. The mast and mount screw together above and below the surface to hold both securely. The mount of Wilson”s NMO cellular antennas come with 14″ of RG58 coax cable with a FME Female connector attached. An example of a NMO cell phone antenna is our Wilson Model 304203.