If a cell booster promises 60dB boost, why doesn’t your phone get 60dB more signal?

It must seem really frustrating. You look at your phone’s built-in signal meter and you see that you’re getting -105 signal. You even turn off all the cellular data settings so you know that’s what you’re getting for voice, right? So you hook up your shiny new 60dB cell booster, and you know your 2nd grade math so you expect that you should have -45 for your new signal strength. You turn on your phone to check it out and the number is more like -70. Is this a trick? Have you been cheated?

It turns out that there’s a little more to signal amplification than simple subtraction. Your booster is doing the required work, but then within six feet of the transmit antenna, half of that signal can be lost. That’s normal attenuation and it’s the reason that big broadcast towers use 500,000 watts for TV when your TV can actually receive a signal of .001 watts. The further away you get, the weaker the signal gets, and the area where there’s the most loss is actually closest to the antenna.

That’s one more reason why it’s critical to place the broadcast antenna carefuly, and that’s part of why Wilson (and now weBoost) boosters use an antenna that’s detached from the booster so you can place it most effectively. It’s also why there are a wide variety of antennas from which to choose so you can really customize your installation.