How to do your own cellular site survey

Business need cell phone signal boosters. This is a fact, and it’s one that’s very hard to deny. All of us have been in a store with terrible cell service. (Obviously, we all go to fewer stores than we did a few years back, but that’s another story.) When you lose service, you get fidgety and start to worry. It’s a legitimate condition called “nomophobia.”

Bad cell service in the office happens because of the way office buildings are constructed. Aluminum studs, metal accents and rails, and energy efficient windows all block cell signals really well. It means that your customers are going to be just as fidgety as you are when you lose service.

So you’ve decided to do something about it

You may not be able to do much about bad cell service in other businesses, but you can do something about your own office. By installing a pro-quality cell phone signal booster like the weBoost Office 200, you can blanket the office with great quality cell service for all carriers. You don’t have to offer free Wi-Fi with all the security issues that entails. But in order to know where to put the cell antennas, you will need a site survey.

A site survey is a set of measurements that shows what the cell signal is like from different parts of your building. You use it to know where to aim the outside antenna, and where to place the indoor antennas for the best effect. When you know where the dead spots are, you’ll be able to cover them better.

What you’ll need for a proper site survey

This is the CellLinq signal meter from Wilson. It connects to an iPhone or Android and gives incredibly detailed cell signal readings for 3G, 4G, LTE, and even some 5G signals. All this information can be easily saved and exported. It’s the best way to get the readings you need. It even can show you the locations of local cell towers and the services they offer.

Another option is this cellular signal meter. It will measure basic cell signals and you can write the results down on paper. It’s a little more time-consuming, but it’s a good option for those on a budget or those folks who don’t want to connect through their phones.

Why can’t you just use your phone?

There are free apps that show signal strength for your Android. There’s a mode on your iPhone that usually shows some sort of signal strength. But these only give you part of the story. They’ll only show you one frequency from one carrier. Unless everyone in the building has the same sort of phone on the same carrier (and uses it the same way) that’s not enough information for you.

You need a much bigger picture of what all the major carriers are doing in your area.

Doing the site survey yourself

Note: This article isn’t about how to use the meters. There are videos and such you can use for that purpose.

In order to do a proper site survey, you need to start on the roof. When you get your cell phone signal booster, you’ll want to put the outdoor antenna up as high as you possibly can. So, go up on the roof. Stand where you think you will mount the antenna. Take at least four readings from each frequency: one while pointing north, south, east, and west. The Cell Linq app allows you to do this automatically. This will give you some idea where to aim the outdoor antenna. If you’re using the Cell Linq app, it will also show you locations of nearby towers so that you can get an even better idea.

With that information in hand, take readings of every frequency from several different places in the office. See where signal is strongest and weakest, and pay special attention to the places that are important to you. Check out the boss’s office, and also get readings in the bathrooms. (Hey, that’s where people use their phones. I don’t judge.)

If possible, put all these readings onto a set of blueprints. This will really help you to visualize where the problem areas are. Once you know them, you can plan on where to put the indoor antennas.

What if this is all too hard to figure out?

If this seems like a lot of work, just call us! If you’re able to do the site survey but can’t plan the install, we can help. If you need a cell installer to do the survey for you, we can arrange for that too. And if you get confusing readings, we can help figure out which product is best for you.

It all starts with a call to 888-233-7563 during East Coast business hours. You’ll get connected to a real technician who can help you through all of it. You don’t have to do it all yourself! If it’s after hours, just fill in the form below and we’ll get back to you, usually within one business day.

 

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.