Cell booster problems? Reboot it!

Cellular signal boosters are actually small computers. Like all computers, they do lock up now and again. It’s rare, but they sometimes just stop working. I’ve been using a cell booster for about ten years and I think it’s happened to me four or five times.

But the point is, it does happen. It happens for the same reason all electronic equipment sometimes locks up. Tiny variations in electrical current cause unexpected results. Sometimes computer code executes in the wrong order because of random events. In some cases, it’s just bad luck.

How can you know if your booster is locked up?

Since most boosters don’t have displays, it’s a little hard to know what’s going on there. If the booster is installed properly, all you get is a green light (sometimes up to five green lights) which let you know it’s working.

So, you have to make a guess. Has cell signal recently dropped in the house? Is it like there’s no booster at all? This may be a sign that something’s going on in there, something that shouldn’t be.

There’s an easy solution

Before tossing a perfectly good cellular booster, why not try a simple reboot? Unplugging the booster for about 30 seconds and plugging it back in may be all you need to do to make things as good as they’ve ever been.

If this doesn’t help, there could be other factors. The cable could be cut somewhere. Unfortunately most boosters aren’t smart enough to know whether or not there’s really a connection to the antennas. The indoor or outdoor antenna may have moved or become disconnected. For the most part antennas don’t wear out, so you don’t need to worry about that, but sometimes they move. Indoor antennas, especially desk-mounted ones, can fall down.

It’s very rare, but sometimes a booster will completely stop working. Again, in my decade of experience this has never happened to me, but I’m willing to admit that it’s possible.

The 3G problem

There’s one other thing to consider. In ’22 and ’23, pretty much every cell carrier will be winding down 3G service. In almost every case those frequencies won’t be idle; they’ll be used for 5G instead. Today’s cell boosters will continue working for those frequencies. They don’t care if they are boosting 3G or 5G, or 11G for that matter, as long as it’s all on the same frequency.

However, if your phone is still relying on 3G for voice service. you may find that you lose that service. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. Most 3G phones have been receiving texts for about a year saying that the service will be retired. But if you still haven’t upgraded, you’ll want to do that soon.

How often should you reboot your booster?

From my experience, it shouldn’t be happening that frequently. If you find yourself rebooting more than once a month, it’s time to figure out what’s really going on there. In a best case scenario, it could be that a new cell tower has gone up, and that’s meant that the booster is reducing its power to compensate. In some cases you might even be better off without a booster if that tower is close enough to you.

However, if you’ve eliminated cabling problems and made sure the antennas are properly aimed, and you still need to reboot that booster frequently, it’s time to start shopping for a new one. Luckily you’ll find all the best cell boosters and a whole lot more when you shop the great selection at Solid Signal.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.