Signal Boosters, Do I really Need One?

We’ve all experienced the problem – you need to make a crucial call or get some critical information via your smart phone and you can’t. Not enough bars to get through. Or maybe you do get through, but call or data quality is poor and suffers from irritating dropout.

And you’re not on your own. Take a look at this data:
How often cell users experience problems with their phones
… And smart phone users report more problems than other users:
 
Smartphone owners confront challenging mobile problems
 

The above tables come from a report published in August 2012 by Washington DC-based Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Pew Research telephone surveyed 2,254 US cell phone users over 18, their results indicating that 88% of US adults have a cell phone and that of these individuals:

 

“72% of cell owners experience dropped calls at least occasionally. Some 32% of cell owners say they encounter this problem at least a few times a week or more frequently than that.”

 

And…

 

“77% of cell internet users say they experience slow download speeds that prevent things from loading as quickly as they would like. Of those cell internet users, 46% face slow download speeds weekly or more frequently.“

[To download and read the full document which reports on a range of cell phone issues in the US, please see http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/08/02/mobile-phone-problems ]

So there is a real problem with cell phone connectivity. Or at least there was in April 2012 when the survey was undertaken, and since it’s likely that numbers of cell and smart phone users has increased since then, and along with it associated problems of connectivity, the survey remains very relevant today.

Now of course, if you get this problem in a coffee shop, a shopping mall, a supermarket or on the road - no problem; you can always change your location to get better coverage. But if you’re at home or at work, you’re stuck with a problem that won’t go away.

The good news is that the problem is easily overcome, most likely by installing a Cell Signal Booster, an easy to install technology which comes at a range of prices depending on the features you need.

This article looks at Cell Signal Boosters, why you might need one, and, if you do, which type to buy.

Why Have I Got Cell Phone Connection Problems?

A cell phone is a radio. A clever radio. But at its heart, just a radio. And like any radio it relies on the strength of the radio signal to operate effectively. And the answer to the above question lies in two broad areas: the Materials from which your location is constructed if you’re inside; and your Location in general.

Materials

The construction materials used in a building are a major factor in determining whether or not a cell phone can connect to a nearby tower. And there are reports that all sorts of materials regularly used in construction, whether man-made or natural, can absorb, block (or partially block) cell phone signals. Studded walls with metal studs, aluminum-foil-faced building products, concrete and metal can all create reception problems for cell phone users, as can the low-E glass used in some windows because low emissivity glass blocks cell phone signals.

Some of these areas prompt significant debate. Check out Martin Halladay’s report on Foil-faced building products at Green Building Advisor. [www.greenbuildingadvisor.com]

He reports Robert Palardy, manager of technology at Louisiana-Pacific, saying:

“Radiant barrier sheathing does have a thin layer of aluminum on it, so it is certainly possible that it could affect a cell phone signal in a small way. It’s likely to be a smaller effect than many other factors, but if the signal is already weak, it could be a measurable effect.”

And for the opposite opinion, Halladay quotes Mary Edmondson, executive director of the Reflective Insulation Manufacturers Association (RIMA), who said:

“There have been no studies that indicate there is any interference with cell phone usage where a radiant barrier is present. In other words, no, reflective products do not affect cell phone reception inside a house or structure where both are present.”

And as for user’s views, Halladay reports various experiences, including this one from Don Johnson of Nassau Bay, Texas:

“I had a new roof installed a couple of years ago and the installer asked if I wanted a radiant barrier on the foam insulation,” Johnson wrote. “I thought that it would result in some reflected heat and thus a savings in A/C costs so I said yes. I have not seen any saving in the A/C cost, but I did realize a total inability to use cell phones in my home. … The signal was still poor in the house and Verizon said that the radiant shield was like a Faraday shield and that it was blocking the cellular signals.”  [A Faraday cage is an enclosure which blocks electric fields.]

(For the full discussion about foil-faced building products see Martin Halladay’s report here:

http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/do-foil-faced-building-products-block-cell-phone-reception)

So, even though the question is a bit open about specific materials and their effect on the quality of cell phone signals, the fact remains that some people do experience cell phone connectivity problems at home or at work. And they need to do something about it.

 

Location

[Diagram of cell tower: phone near but shadowed; phone too distant for good signal; hill/building in the way.]

And it doesn’t stop there… The materials surrounding you at your location are not the only source of potential connectivity problems for the cell or smart phone user.

Cellular phones are so named because they rely on a network of towers, each of which creates an area of coverage - or cell - which overlaps with the next tower’s coverage area and so on to create a continuous ‘carpet’ of cells which enables continuous connectivity for users.

This means that when you turn your phone on, or move from a tower’s cell into the next one’s area, there’s a signal for your phone to connect to. But if you’re too far from a tower, or in an urban canyon, or a real canyon, or in a basement, or in the shadow of nearby hill or tall building, you’ll have problems because your phone can’t ‘see’ the nearest or next cell tower well enough to make a decent connection. Anything in the way and signal quality drops. And if a cell’s connections are all taken up by other users, or if for some reason cell areas don’t overlap, you’ll also have problems.

Then there’s the trees…

If you’re next to a forest, have a decent garden or happen to live next door to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden like a friend of mine, you could have problems, because trees, shrubs and all kinds of vegetation can absorb cell phone signals.

And what about in your car or RV?

Given what we’ve said above, and the fact that vehicles are metal boxes made of metal, plastic and glass, it’s not surprising that cell phone connectivity in vehicles is often poor. Take RVs. Older models are often made of sheet metal, and newer RVs can have insulation and window tinting which can cause cell phone connectivity problems.

In fact, there is some January 2013 research from Wilson Electronics which suggests that

“…using your phone in a vehicle can block the signal by more than 50% in some instances.”

[http://www.wilsonelectronics.com/uploads/files/164_The_Top_5_Things_That_Block_Your_Cellular_SignalL.pdf]

Finally, there’s the fact that according to SignIndustry.com, equipment in or near your home such as street lamps, aquariums, lighting systems and microwave ovens can all affect cell signals. [http://www.signindustry.com/]

It seems there’s no escape from locations with the potential to stop you getting a good cell signal!

 

What’s the Solution?

Get a Cell Signal Booster!

I guess by now you’re thoroughly fed up with all the talk about problems.

As my old Boss used to say: “Don’t come to me with problems; come to me with solutions!”

So here we go…

If you’ve got cell phone connectivity problems, the obvious answer is to install a piece of kit that boosts the radio signal from the cell towers and gives more signal for your phone to grab on to.

And that’s exactly what a Cell Signal Booster does - It helps you to bypass all the problems of your Location and Building Materials by boosting signal strength so that it can’t be affected by the problems we’ve mentioned above.

Of course, a Cell Signal Booster can’t completely eliminate all problems, but it could go a long way to helping you overcome the worst of these by:

  • reducing dropped calls;
  • improving 3G and 4G data rates;
  • keeping you connected further from the cell towers;
  • increasing your coverage area, especially in mobile situations such as on a boat, in your car or in an RV.

 

Which Type of Cell Signal Booster Do I Need?

The answer to this question largely depends upon how you want to use the system and the type of network you want to connect to - 3G or 4G, for example.

Residential Systems

If you’re just looking to improve the cell phone connectivity in a single room, such as a home office or workshop, then there’s a range of Cell Signal Boosters to suit this situation.

Products such as the Wilson DT 3G or 4G Desktop Booster Kit can help here and start at around $250. If on the other hand, you need to cover more than one room in your home, then there are other more powerful options such as the Wilson DT 4G Cell Signal Booster Kit or SureCall FlexPro 3G Plus Kit. These products can cover areas up to 5,000 or even 6,000ft.² depending upon local conditions. These products start at around $350.

Small Office Systems

Office booster systems are designed to give professional level connectivity. These start at around $550 for a unit which can cover up to 20,000ft.², depending upon conditions. Units such as the SureCall FlexPro 3G Plus 2 Antenna Kit, work with all major US 2G and 3G carriers including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and sprint, and are designed to keep businesses connected when there is a higher volume of radio traffic than in a small office environment.

Commercial Systems

If you’re a large corporate with a large area to cover – up to, say, 1m ft.², then you’ll need something along the lines of a Powerful Signal ProWay Solution. Whether you’re in business, high-rise hospitality, at a medical facility, education campus, government or in the utility industry, it’s this kind of equipment you will need. Prices vary considerably and require professional design and installation, but for smaller installations start at around $2,000.

Mobile Systems

As the name implies these products are designed to overcome problems with interrupted cell phone services when on the move. Whether it’s commuting, in a rolling office or during a weekend RV trip, these units are intended to overcome some of the problems discussed earlier when you are out and about

The precise nature of the unit employed depends upon the application. Some are in-vehicle cradles. Some are portable boosters. And some are mobile boosters. Starting at around $150 and rising to perhaps $350, thought is needed to make sure that you get what you need. So we suggest that before ordering a mobile product it’s sensible for you to call us so we can help you decide upon a product before spending any of your hard earned cash.

 

In Conclusion…

You know by now that ensuring an on-going high-quality cell phone signal can be complicated. And it’s true that buying a product to overcome any problems you encounter can be fraught with further problems.

That’s why it’s important to deal with a professional technology company that can understand your problems rather than simply contacting someone who will sell you a Cell Signal Booster in a box and say goodbye. Things can go wrong. That’s why it’s important to contact Powerful Signal.

Contact our expert staff before you decide what to buy and you’ll know that you’re dealing with someone who knows what they’re talking about. We’ve had years of experience of helping customers select the right equipment to meet their needs and we won’t sell you something you don’t need or isn’t fit-for-purpose.

You’ll find our team friendly, expert, and able to discuss your needs and our products in a straight-forward way which doesn’t try to blind you with a blizzard of technicalities. And as a result you will find a successful solution to your cell phone connectivity problem. What’s more, if it turns out that things aren’t quite as you expect, our no quibble after sales service will work with you to solve any difficulty you encounter so that you finish up with a product and system that works.

We hope that this Information Document has helped you understand why you might be experiencing cell phone connection problems and where a solution might lie. So get in touch.

You won’t get the hard sell. And you will get the help you need.

Pick up the phone and call us right now!