How to get better signal to your… vending machine?

Yeah, here’s something you probably didn’t think too much about. That vending machine in your break room might just need better cell service. Vending machines and other standalone devices have gotten a lot more complex in the past several years. Why? Because fewer and fewer of us want to pay with cash.

If your vending machine accepts cards or mobile payments, there’s a good chance it needs a cell phone connection. Yes, in the very early days devices like these used wired network or landline phone connections. But that only got the industry so far. Most folks don’t have wired connections near the vending machine. It’s just not something you think of.

So, vending machine providers started building cellular modems into their equipment and buying data in bulk from service providers. A cellular modem is essentially a cell phone, without the phone part. It’s sort of like the cellular connection you may have on your tablet. The amount of data used by each transaction is so small that the vending machine supplier can get it super-cheap. They pass the cost along to you in the form of a few cents more for each bag of chips or each drink.

What the #%$^@ is wrong with this thing?

If your employees complain about the vending machine not taking their card or phone, you’ll hear about it. Even if you don’t share in the revenue from that machine, the bad news is going to filter to you. The whole point of that machine is convenience and if it’s too hard to use, people won’t use it. The idea that folks will start carrying bills or coins around just to get a Coke… that’s kind of a fantasy today.

What’s happening is usually that there’s bad cell signal around the machine. It’s not surprising really. Think about it. Your vending machine is probably in the middle of your building. It’s surrounded by other equipment. Your walls are full of wires. It’s a miracle the thing gets any cell service at all.

The solution: cell boosters

Cell phone signal boosters work just as well for machines as they do for people. The idea is the same: put an antenna outside and it brings strong signal inside. When it comes to machines like these, there are two options.

M2M boosters

M2M, or machine to machine, boosters, sit between the machine’s cellular antenna and the larger outdoor antenna. This Signal 4G from weBoost will help you get the best signal to that device. It’s low-priced and easy to install since most machines have big, removable antennas (unlike most phones.)

Small area cell phone signal boosters

There’s another option. Using a small area cell phone booster like this weBoost Home Studio  will give the entire area around the machine stronger signal. This is a perfect option for something like a break room where people want better cell service anyway. The vending machine will pick up better signal, and so will the people around it.

Get the booster you need… and the advice you need

It’s hard to know what’s going to work. That’s why we have all the pre-sales support you need when you shop at SolidSignal.com. Call us at 888-233-7563 and we’ll be happy to explain how adding a cell phone signal booster to your office is a smart idea. We’ll recommend the right one for your business and help you figure out your next steps. We offer real, white glove service at Solid Signal and we’re here to make sure your business succeeds. Call us now or, if it’s after hours fill out the form below. 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.