2019 Edition: Should you get a 3G-only cell booster?

I’ve written articles like this several times over the years. My opinions have changed a little though, and I’d like to share my current thoughts on it. First, let’s define our terms.

What is a 3G-only cell booster?

Really this is a cell booster that boosts voice only. We call them “3G-only” because they only work with the frequencies used for voice, that used to be used for 3G. Many carriers are already starting to phase out 3G data, and honestly no one wants something that slow anyway.

Today’s phones do voice over all bands, and data over the LTE bands. As 5G begins to roll in, you’ll see that initially on new frequency ranges but it will eventually be used on all the existing bands too.

Why would you want a 3G-only cell booster?

Well, today it’s hard to say why. But in the past they were a lot less expensive. If you mostly connected to Wi-Fi at home, a 3G-only cell booster would give you better voice coverage while saving you a few bucks. Today, that argument doesn’t really hold water.

Today, cell booster companies have largely moved over to boosters that will work with 4G/LTE frequencies as well as traditional voice ones.

What about if you have Sprint?

In the past I’ve said that people who have Sprint shouldn’t bother with 4G/LTE cell boosters. Why? Sprint uses different frequencies than other carriers for its LTE service. This made a 4G booster more of a waste of money for Sprint users.

However, weBoost’s latest crop of boosters do cover one of the bands that Sprint commonly uses for data. This changes things and makes it easier to choose a 4G/LTE booster.

Yeah but… Wi-Fi Calling?

I hit the nail on the head way with this article: Wi-Fi Calling is great for you, but it’s not the right choice for your guests. In order for everyone to enjoy Wi-Fi Calling, they need to be on your Wi-Fi. Which means you have to either share your password or set up some sort of guest network for people. If it’s truly a guest network, you have no control over who is mooching off your Wi-Fi. If it’s not, you’re still going to have to dictate the password letter by letter.

I use Wi-Fi Calling and I like it. I bet you do too.  But it’s no substitute for a cell booster. A good cell booster system is going to benefit everyone who sets foot in your house. Honestly, being a good host hasn’t gone out of fashion. It’s just changed. If you want to be “the place everyone goes to” you need good cell service. You don’t want to be trying to explain to people which corners of the house are good for texting. You just want people to enjoy themselves.

Choose the right cellular booster at Solid Signal.

We have a great selection of boosters from all the major manufacturers. We offer free tech support and can even give you a professional recommendation on which one to choose.  It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to fill a small car or a large warehouse with great signal, there’s a solution for you!

Oh by the way…

You might want to look out for our selection of refurbished boosters. These are all factory-refreshed units that have been fully tested and carry the same warranty as the originals. Generally the only thing missing is the shiny box. If you were hoping to save money with a 3G booster, you’re much better off with a refurbished 4G one.

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.