OK here’s an easy one. But, it’s a question that keeps coming up. The internet doesn’t have a good answer for it… or at least it didn’t until this article was written.
Understanding cell technology
In order to get the real answer, we’ll have to take a little detour into the world of cell signals. Don’t worry, it won’t get that technical. But there are two things you’ll need to understand: just a little tech, and just a little history.
First, a little history
There was a time when phones… were phones. Until the late 2000s, we used them to make voice calls and that’s about it. Oh, occasionally we’d text once that became available. But voice was king in those days.
The first cell boosters, released in the early ’00s, didn’t concern themselves with data, because there just wasn’t any to worry about. As data became part of the phone experience, cell boosters branched off. Some boosters stayed as voice-only, to help people save money. A small group of them became data-only. Most boosters started handling voice and data, which took a technical leap that I’ll explain below.
Now, a little tech
In the United States, there isn’t really one cellular standard. There are several. The situation is better than it was a decade ago, when phones from different providers wouldn’t work at all with each other’s networks. Still, each cell carrier has their own little tweaks to the standards that are used.
More importantly, there are several different frequency ranges used for phones. Five unique ranges are used just for non-5G service, while three more are used for 5G. Today’s phones have remarkably flexible radios that can broadcast and receive using all these frequency ranges. That may not seem like a big deal, since any old AM/FM radio can receive broadcasts from .5MHz to 108MHz. But, when we’re talking about ranges from 700MHz to 2000MHz just for non-5G, while the ranges for 5G span from 600MHz to 29,000MHz. All of that tech fits in your pocket, which is something pretty amazing.
There’s one more little bit here. Until about five years ago, voice and data were handled separately on cell phones. Starting in 2022, all the major carriers will no longer be using the older voice technology and will use the current technology for both voice and data.
As I write this in late ’21, (keeping in mind that the internet keeps things forever), cell phone signal boosters cover the five frequency ranges used for non-5G (also called 4G/LTE) but do not cover the three 5G frequency ranges, except where those frequencies are also used for 4G/LTE.
Answering the question
So, let’s answer the question, now that you know some of the background. Since the same technology is used for both voice and data, today’s cell boosters will work to provide better voice and faster data. In the future, as boosters begin to work with 5G, they’ll provide even better results for both voice and data.
So, if you’re on the fence about buying a cell phone signal booster, feel confident! Today’s boosters will give you everything you need. There will come a time in the future when new boosters support 5G, but that could be years from now. That sort of thing requires FCC approval, and the FCC isn’t known for moving fast.