12 ways to boost cell signal

The digital age has given us so many solutions, gadgets and connectivity opportunities, however, the weak signal remains a huge problem. On one hand, carriers are doing their best to solve the issues, on the other hand, users seem to multiply by the day. As of February 2019, in the US alone, smartphone owners reached 81%, as opposed to only 35% in 2011.

Smartphones today can pretty much do anything, and many people use them for work as well. However, to be able to use them to their full potential, you need to stay connected through either WiFi or mobile data networks, let alone always being within signal range for calls.

When it comes to network signal strength, better bet on yourself to find solutions. There are many different things that you can do – some of them are pretty costly and for others, you will only need to invest your time.

So let’s dive into each one in more detail and see how to boost cell phone signal.

1. Install a mobile signal booster 

Mobile signal booster is the fastest and most reliable way to improve cell signal. Essentially, it’s a device that is used to improve cell reception. The way they work is the outdoor antenna catches the signal, sends to booster unit, which amplifies it and sends to the indoor antenna to broadcast the strong signal.

The installation of the booster is as easy as ABC, and the operation is even easier. All you need to do is follow the instructions and enjoy seamless communication.

There is a sea of different boosters, offering solutions for small to big spaces, one or many bands and carriers, and different budgets.

There are many criteria you need to consider when choosing a mobile repeater. First of all, it’s the size and type of space you need to boost your cell phone signal. Another point is the band in which your carrier operates and the type of network it broadcasts through that band. The last thing to consider is the outside signal strength, the stronger the signal – the better booster will amplify the inside signal.

As to the budget, you can always find a booster to fit all the above criteria, which won’t make a hole in your pocket.

Here are our recommendations on the boosters, that offer the perfect combination of value for money and quality/features.

All of these boosters have undergone a rigorous testing process by not just certification authorities, but also by professionals at Booster Planet. Before rolling out any product, we test it first ourselves, to make sure that suppliers claims reflect reality, and that we offer the best quality to our clients.

  • All-in-one cell phone signal booster

The BEST PRICE on the market

Area coverage from 3.300 – 16.000 sq. ft

Compatible with ALL US network providers

Strong and steady 5 bar signal across the area

FREE trackable delivery across the US

30-day money back guarantee

2-year warranty

This mobile phone booster will easily enhance your signal and give you the best signal quality you have ever experienced. No frequency, provider or network is excluded! This cell phone booster is perfect for any kind of space and area size and will improve cell signal in your home, office, small hotel or any other area that you need. Plus, t

his signal booster is perfect for remote and rural areas, since it’s very powerful. This little beast can catch the weakest outside cell signal and boost it to strong and steady 5 bars across all covered area. It also supports the simultaneous use of multiple devices. It is FCC certified and comes with a detailed installation instruction manual for your convenience.

Reviews 4.9 (568)

  • Pro Cell Phone Signal Booster for 3G/4G

The BEST PRICE on the market

Area coverage of up to 3.300 sq. ft

Compatible with ALL US network providers

Strong and steady 5 bar signal across the area

FREE trackable delivery across the US

30-day money back guarantee

2-year warranty

Enjoy a great 3G and 4G connection with this dual-band cell phone signal booster. It will provide you with a strong and steady 5 bar signal across the area, even if your outside signal is as weak as 1 bar. This cell phone booster supports the frequencies of 850 and 1900 MHz and all major US operators, like T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and many more. It has an area coverage of up to 3300 sq. ft and is perfect for small homes, offices or home office. This signal booster comes with an extra powerful LPDA antenna, so is perfect to use in remote and rural areas. This signal booster comes with an installation manual for easy setup, plus it’s FCC certified.

Reviews 4.7 (516)

  • Pro 3G & 4G Cell Phone Signal Booster

The BEST PRICE on the market

Area coverage of up to 1.600 – 6.500 sq. ft

Compatible with ALL US network providers

Strong and steady 5 bar signal across the area

FREE trackable delivery across the US

30-day money back guarantee

2-year warranty

Get rid of slow network speed, dropped calls and poor call quality once and for all with this great mobile signal booster. This booster will pick up even the faintest outside signal and turn it into amazing 5 bars in every corner of your space. This little guy supports all major US carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and many more. This booster is perfect for apartments, middle-sized homes and offices.

Reviews 4.6 (94)

2. Microcell anyone? 

Have you ever heard of Microcells or Femtocells? Those are network extenders, sold by your carrier. They take landline internet and transform it into cell signal and the other way around. Each network provider gives their Microcell devices a different name, but they are all femtocells in nature.

These devices cost less than cell phone boosters but will demand a long term payment commitment. There are also other factors to consider, before thinking of getting a Microcell device.

In case you live in a rural area with a bad landline internet connection and speed, femtocell will not improve the situation. Another factor is that some carriers are not encouraging their subscribers to use microcells, instead, they want them to use WiFi calls service more. In this case, you are not likely to get any discounts or payment plans, when purchasing a microcell device.

However, there is some good news too. If you live in an area with a cell phone signal problems, that the carrier is well aware of, and you have been their customer since the dawn of time, there is a high chance you will get the femtocell device with a big discount or even for free. You just need to haggle your way to the free option.

Keep in mind that if your landline internet is bad, or the main cause of bad reception is the material, your house is built with, microcell is not an option to consider since it won’t be able to make much difference. In this case, your best choice would be to go with a traditional mobile signal booster.

3. Use mobile phone as hotspots

You may know mobile hotspots as LTE modems, Mobile WiFi or 4G routers. The way they work, is they use 4G/LTE data to connect to the internet instead of landline WiFi internet.

This is a great option if you need to connect multiple devices to one network on the go since it’s portable and small. Although, of course, you can also use it for your home or office.

The downside of this option is that a hotspot is the same mobile device, so when you don’t get cell network reception, your hotspot doesn’t get it either.

There is one great news though since the technology is so advanced today, you have a hotspot pretty much built-in into your smartphone. Any modern phone can broadcast a WiFi network if it has a solid data connection.

Be that as it may, hotspots don’t amplify a signal, they merely make the network signal available for more than one device. So as is, it’s not an alternative for signal boosters. Some people even use them together, to maximise the effects of both.

Here are some useful links to see if you should invest in this device at all:

4. Get away from obstacles

The way cell phone works is that it catches the frequency waves, that the cell tower is broadcasting to be able to make calls, get and send messages and so on. The great news is that they can travel miles on end. The bad – anything on the way chips off the network quality a bit.

In urban areas, it’s the buildings, the metal they are built with, the thick walls, the trees in the park, the busy network traffic. In rural areas, it’s nature – the mountains, forests and valleys. So by the time the signal reaches you, its strength is much weaker than originally broadcasted.

Here are the most common obstacles that interfere with your network signal:

  • Building components & layout 

Pretty much anything can consume or interrupt your network signal, like trees, hills, tall monuments, buildings. The list goes on and on. However, the most common causes in urban and suburban areas are the layout of your area/building and the materials it’s been built with.

The biggest signal blocker is metal – walls, linings, roofs. There are also other materials, like wood, fiberglass, glass, brick & cement and so on. As a general rule, open floor designs get a better cell signal across the area, than spaces with many rooms and walls.

  • Atmospheric conditions

Besides the landscape interference with the network signal, mother nature throws at us weather conditions as well. You may have noticed how your signal quality drops or disappears altogether during a thunderstorm or heavy rain. Fog, snow and even solar activity play its role in reducing the signal strength as well.

  • Other electronic devices

All and any electronic device may create radio frequency, and again, become an obstacle for your cellular network signal. Any magnetic devices also affect the quality of your mobile signal.

  • Cell tower radius

When we think about the cell tower distance, we only think of how far we are from it. The pure physical distance is a factor in rural and remote areas. However, when talking about urban areas and cities, we need to talk about broadcasting distance. The cell towers, as a rule, don’t broadcast signals to great distances in cities, not to interfere with other tower networks.

We may not be able to remove the obstacles that disrupt the signal, but we can get away from them ourselves. Here are a couple of things you could do:

  • Call your gardener. Trimming tall trees and bushes will greatly improve your signal strength.
  • Go higher. Usually, there is a better cell reception on the second floor of the house. Remember – the higher you go, the better the reception gets.
  • Get a breath of fresh air. If you can, go outside. If not, get near a window/open it.
  • Get rid of metal objects in the house, if you can. Favour open floor layouts, if possible.

5. Keep the phone battery alive

Always make sure you have enough battery charge left in your phone, don’t drain it. To catch a cell signal, your phone needs a continuous supply of power. When your phone’s battery starts going low, you might experience a decline in the quality of your calls and data internet speed on your device.

Here are some quick fixes to keep your phone’s battery alive:

  • Close the apps working in the background
  • Turn on power-saving mode on your smartphone
  • Use a lower brightness setting of your screen
  • Turn off NFC and Bluetooth options, when you don’t use them
  • Say goodbye to push notifications
  • Make sure you don’t expose your phone to extreme temperatures

In case your phone can’t go without charging until the end of the day, keep a portable charger on you at all times.

N.B. In case your phone has been purchased more than 3 years ago, chances are the battery is not what it used to be and won’t perform as before.

6. Don’t block your phone’s antenna

Some of you might remember phones from the early 2000s, where the antenna was sticking out of the phone. Such antenna positioning didn’t do justice to the phone’s design and look, but it did wonders in catching a cell signal.

Phones today look much nicer, following a minimalistic design, hiding the antenna inside the phone’s frame. Such positioning makes it harder to catch signals. Plus, we add to it by blocking the antenna, when holding the phone is a landscape mode.

Last generation phones have their antennas placed in such a way, that even if you hold it with 2 hands in sideways position, you are not blocking the signal.

Big and sturdy cases, while protecting your phone from physical damages, block signals from reaching your phone.

What you can do to help this situation is holding your phone in the upright position, where you don’t hinder the signal.

Another good solution would be to go completely “hands-free” and use your phone’s assistant either through speakers or Bluetooth headset to help you navigate.

7. Upgrade your phone  

If you have purchased your phone lately, don’t sweat it. However, in case your phone was with you to witness the first black president enter the White House, it’s time for a change.

Old phones don’t perform as good as new ones and don’t support the modern technology that might significantly improve your signal reception.

Change is hard but inevitable and necessary if you want to go hand-in-hand with progress.

8. Get your settings in order  

We do so much on our phones these days that all the settings must be set right, so the phone’s operation is at its peak to deliver you the best experience and convenience.

In case you use your phone at its full capacity, you might experience issues, caused by apps running in the background.

Here are some solutions for you:

  • Update your phone with the latest versions of the software you are using
  • Make sure your SIM card is not damaged
  • Turn on your data in Settings
  • Reboot your phone
  • Turn on and off the airplane mode to reconnect to your network
  • Manually choose your network under network settings
  • Reset your network settings
  • As a last resort, reset all the settings, if nothing else helps

9. Take advantage of Wifi calls

It may seem strange at first, but you can actually use your WiFi internet to make calls from your phone. And I don’t mean calls through Viber, Skype and other similar apps. I’m talking about making phone calls using the WiFi network, instead of cellular one.

Most major US network providers like T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon already offer this option, since cell network traffic is rising with exponential speed. Latest versions of phones, such as  LG, Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy and iPhone also support WiFi calling.

In case you have landline internet, just turn on your WiFi connection and connect your phone to the network to make calls. This solution basically won’t cost you anything extra, since you are already paying for your landline.

There is only one downside to this option. If you have a bad WiFi connection, you will not improve the quality of your calls and internet use by much, or maybe even at all. So make sure your WiFi connection is strong and steady and enjoy essentially free calls and internet use.

Here you can find more information on how to use WiFi calls on Android and iOS phones.

10. Some alone time makes wonders

Overcrowded cities are not just difficult for people, but also cell phone towers and cell reception. When you have a few thousand people trying to connect to a network at the same time, no one gets great reception.

Connection on an ordinary day is bad enough, but if you are at Burning Man or Tomorrowland, things get even tougher, since Facebook/Instagram check-ins and picture uploads are a must.

Such excessive use of tablets and smartphones will, no doubt, overflood the cell tower and cause a bunch of problems, like:

  • Bad voice quality
  • Dropped calls
  • Pending SMSs
  • Low internet speed

You can’t exactly invent a virtual line to connect to a network, so what you can do is go to a less crowded area, and try to connect to the nearest cell tower.

How can I find the nearest cell tower you say?

Here is how.

11. Find the nearest cell tower

There are many different ways you can locate cell towers near you. Locating them helps to understand the best choice of network providers and how to strengthen your cell signal as well.

You can either use apps to locate the tower, websites or simply use your cell phone to see where is the closest cell tower to your location.

Some of the useful apps include Network Cell InfoAntenna SearchCell Reception and CellMapper. All of them are used by professionals and provide a reach data, not on just cell towers, but also frequencies, triangulation, broadcasting direction, power and so on.

The easiest one for an everyday user is Cell Reception. You simply fill in your ZIP code/city, state, and voilà, you get the info! To get the full and comprehensive info on Network Cell Info you need to purchase the app, but it will cost you only $2.19 – believe me, it’s worth it!

As to websites, there are many, and they are very technical, but the most commonly known and also recommended and used by Booster Planet is OpenSignal. It has versions for both iOS and Android. You know the location of your cell tower through a compass that points to it and can also see it on a cell tower map.

Now we finally came to locating your cell tower via your smartphone. To be able to locate the signal with your phone, you need to know that cell frequencies are detected on your phone as dBm or decibel-milliwatts and its number shows the strength of your signal.

All the cell signals travel with strength between -50 dBm to -120 dBm. The strongest five-bar signal is -50 dBm, respectfully -120 dBm is pretty much the absence of the signal or the “dead zone”.

So your signal “sweet spot” would be the rage between -50 dBm to -85 dBm. But please keep in mind, that cell bars on your screen do not represent accurate information on signal strength. They are very subjective to the cell phone manufacturer and the absence of standard on the correlation between the dBm and bars gives no room to consider them reliable.

To find the best cell reception in and outside your home, you need to look at dBm readings on your phone and walk around the space to find the best service spots.

Now you know what to do, but don’t know how to do it. So let me tell you where exactly to see your dBm readings on your smartphone.

Android users have it easy with the following typical steps:

  • Settings
  • About Phone
  • Network or Status
  • SIM Status
  • Under Signal Strength you will see the dBm

iPhone users with older than 11 iOS version:

  • Dial *3001#12345#*
  • Swipe down
  • In the upper left corner of the screen, you will see your dBm.

For iPhone users with an iOS version of 11 & 12, the dBm is hidden in the test mode field. The place also depends on your network provider and the kind of chipset (Intel or Qualcomm) you iPhone is equipped.

Try these options for T-Mobile and AT&T networks with Intel chipset

  •  Dial *3001#12345#*
  • Tap on LTE
  • Tap on Serving Cell Meas
  • You will see the dBm as rsrp0.

Try these options for Sprint and Verizon networks with Qualcomm chipset

  • Dial *3001#12345#*
  • Tap on 1xEV-DO.
  • You will see the dBm as RX AGC0.

In case these steps won’t lead you anywhere, in all likelihood, your phone has either an incompatible network provider or a chipset. The only thing you are left to do here is to perform a speed test in different corners of your home, both inside and outside.

12. Switch to another network provider 

You have tried everything you could, but still, don’t see any improvement in your cell phone coverage and call quality?

As sad as it may be, you might have to just walk out on your network provider and find one, with a better cell tower locations and reception for your area.

There are many things to consider when switching between carriers. If you favor calls and texts over the mobile internet, plans offered by Sprint and T-Mobile might prove to be more cost-effective. On the other hand, in case you use 4G more than anything else, Verizon offers the best 4G coverage nationwide. However, if your house is very close to the AT&T cell tower, your safest bet would be to go with them, since most probably you would get the best signal reception.

Carriers are also eager to steal clients from each other and have great offers for switching mobile network providers. It’s worth to be on the lookout for such deals, in case your two-year contract with your carrier is up and the phone is paid for in full.

Here is a good app by OpenSignal you can use to search for service heatmaps of different network providers in your area. The search is done through ZIP code and you can analyze network rankings in your location.

To Sum Up

There you go. Now you know all there is to know on how to improve your cell signal. As you can see all the options are relatively easy to perform yourself and won’t require any professional knowledge or help. No matter which one or a combination of ones you decide to go with, there are certain limitations and risks.

The only risk-free and highly-reliable option is, probably, to install the mobile signal booster. It’s a one-time investment that will keep your signal alive till the end of time. Easy to install, maintain and operate, it guarantees to boost your signal. It’s the most hassle-free and convenient of all the options mentioned above.

Follow this filter, and see which booster will fit perfectly to your network and area needs.

Learn how mobile phone signal booster can enhance your call and data quality and deliver amazing network experience. From now on you will never be out of range and out of reach.   

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