NICE AND EASY: Will a cell booster work if the towers are 50 miles away?

A while back, a customer came to us with a problem. They take their boat out to international waters a lot, and lose cell service around the time they lost sight of shore. So they asked,

Is there any technology that will let me use my cell phone when I’m 50 miles off shore?

The answer I had to give them: Probably not.

What a cell phone signal booster can do for you

Cellular signal boosters take a weak signal from a cell tower and amplify it so you can use it in your home or office. They work very well as long as you have at least one bar of signal outside the building you’re in. There are limits, however, and if there’s no signal outside, then a cellular signal booster isn’t going to do a whole lot for you.

In most areas, cell towers are spaced between one and two miles apart. That’s enough to guarantee good service in the areas they serve. While “theoretically” a cell phone signal could go as far as 45 miles, that’s not a really honest projection. A cell phone’s signal is going to be very unreliable after about 2-2.5 miles, and that’s assuming a clear line of sight to the tower. You could potentially get a bit better service if you’re on the open water, since there aren’t any obstructions at all. In many cases on land you’ll only get about 1 mile between towers before the signal starts to get weak, because you’re also looking at trees and other buildings between you and that tower.

A little advice for the land-bound

There’s a simple way to determine if you’ll get good performance from a cellular signal booster: just pick up your phone. Go outside — if you can make a call, if you have any bars at all, then a cell booster will work for you. If the service is dicey, climb up on the roof (if you can.) If you have good signal on the roof you will definitely benefit from a cell booster.

A better solution for marine customers

There’s a new solution in town for marine customers who like to go out into international waters. With VSAT from Signal Connect, you can get an internet connection up to 100 miles from shore. With that connection you can email, surf, stream, and even connect with others using apps like Whatsapp and Skype. It’s the internet service designed specifically for our marine customers.

Forget everything you ever thought you knew about slow, pokey, confusing marine internet service. With VSAT from Signal Connect you get reliable hardware and customer service that beats anything else in the industry. Our team understands the marine experience and we’re here to make sure you have a great connection!

It all starts with a call to 888-233-7563 during East Coast business hours. Once you call, you’ll be connected to an expert who will be ready to help, 24/7. They’ll explain the whole process to you, lay out the options, and get your installation scheduled. If you have an installer you work with, we’ll happily work with them. If you need an installer, we can recommend one from our nationwide installer database. We’ve got you covered!

Call us now! If it’s after East Coast business 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.