Can you use an old TV antenna for a cell booster?

If you’re like me, you probably have a bunch of old equipment in the garage. OK, I’ll admit I probably have more old equipment in the garage than most people. But that’s not the point. Let’s say you got a new cell booster and it came with a small antenna. You want to “beef it up.” Can you connect an old TV antenna and will it do the job?

Yes… and no.

In most cases you can connect any antenna to a cell booster. Most home cell boosters use the same F-connector and RG6 cable as television antennas. That’s not by accident. Homeowners are comfortable with that connection system and they trust it. But, just because you can connect things up doesn’t really mean it will work.

Why it will always “kinda” work

An antenna isn’t really that complex of a thing. It’s a piece of metal, really. It receives signals through the air because metal conducts electricity and broadcast signals are really weak electrical signals. The basic science of antennas has been known for about 150 years and while it may have seemed revolutionary then, it’s not really thought of as rocket science now.

So, hooking up an antenna, or a coat hanger, or a piece of wire, is always going to work, at least a little. But, the real question is, will it work better than the antenna you have? And for the most part, that answer is “no.”

Why you shouldn’t use a TV antenna for a cell booster

The most important characteristic of an antenna is its length. In order for an antenna to work well, its length should be an even fraction of the size of the wave it wants to capture. In other words, a quarter, a half, an eighth, that sort of thing. That’s why antennas for TV use are bigger than those for cellular use. They need to capture lower frequencies, and those frequencies have larger waves.

Cell boosters do use some of the same frequencies that were once allocated to television broadcasting. But, they also use frequencies that have never been used for TV. Those frequencies are just as important. If you use your TV antenna for cell boosting, it probably won’t work very well.

The other issue is that cellular signals go two ways. They come into your phone and they also go out. Television antennas not only aren’t designed for broadcasting signals, it’s generally illegal to use them that way. Using a TV antenna for broadcast may result in too much or too little signal getting to the cell tower and that can cause problems for the cell tower and the whole network. It’s a rare problem, but it does happen.

Get the right antenna for your cell booster

Rather than trying to reuse something that isn’t really right, get a new cellular antenna to upgrade your booster! Solid Signal has the biggest selection of cellular antennas for indoor and outdoor use and we’re here to help you! We can recommend expansion antennas for every cell booster from our vast selection. Shop at SolidSignal.com now or, call us at 877-312-4547 and we’ll walk you through the process!

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 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.