NICE AND EASY: Can you use a computer as a cell booster?

It’s amazing what comes through our help desk, folks. This question came to me from one of our technicians and I had to chuckle. I’m not sure most folks would find it “laugh-out-loud” funny, I did.

I have an old laptop. What would it take to turn it into a cell booster? Can I just plug an antenna into the headphone jack? Is there some sort of upgrade kit?

Looking back, I think yes it’s a good, honest question. And I applaud people who want to upcycle instead of putting stuff in landfills. The only thing is…

Sorry, no dice

While there is no technical reason that you couldn’t build a cell booster into a USB-powered device or a card to be placed inside a tower PC, it’s never going to happen.

A computer by itself has the power to handle the calculations, but none of the broadcast ability, and adding that would cost pretty much the same as a standalone cell booster. So it’s just not going to happen, folks. Period, end of discussion.

I think that you absolutely could build a device that would interface with a computer and act as a cell booster. The question is, how much of the computer would really be used. Pretty much everything about a booster requires custom electronics. The only thing that would really require a computer would be the comparison and measurement of signals. That’s needed to make sure that you don’t get feedback.

The big picture

I think coming up with new uses for old computers is a great idea. Sometimes you can donate them to schools or charities. Sometimes you can use them as low-end web servers or cloud storage. You can even get more use out of old computers by running something like CloudReady on them. That’s a replacement operating system that works better on older computers. But using a computer as a cell booster is really wasteful when it comes to energy. Cell boosters use a few watts, while computers use hundreds. It’s not necessarily a good equation.

On the other hand, standalone cell boosters continue to get better and better, with new models that don’t even need an outdoor antenna and still cover a large area. If you have problems making calls while inside the home or office (and who doesn’t?) you owe it to yourself to look at the large variety of cellular signal boosters that you’ll find at Solid There are options for almost any budget and every size building. There’s no reason to live with bad cell service!

Need even more support? Give us a call? Call us at 888-233-7563 and you’ll get a technician who can help you choose the right cell phone signal booster.  If it’s after hours, just 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.