What’s the best antenna for a marine cell booster?

The sunshine, the sea air, and the solace aren’t good enough anymore, are they? Let’s be honest. A trip on your boat isn’t quite right unless you can also check your socials and get the latest news. Don’t feel bad about it… it’s our modern world. And that’s why Solid Signal has products which can help you stay connected even miles off shore.

The truth about cell reception

For those on land, we tend to say that cell reception starts to drop off once you’re about a mile away from a cell tower. Once you reach 2 miles, you’re unlikely to get usable signal at all, although your phone still may register something. Further than that, and it’s the dreaded “No Service” message.

On the water, things can be a little better. And note I say “can” because it’s a bit of a crap shoot, as they say. Cell signals will travel further over water because there’s nothing to block them. However, in order to get the best reception you need a cell tower that’s visible from shore. Otherwise you’re dealing with the obstructions that exist on land even before you get out to the water.

In a best case scenario, it’s not impossible to get cell service 3-5 miles offshore. I’ve even heard of people getting reception 10 miles out, although I have to say that’s probably an edge case that’s unlikely to be repeatable.

Marine cell boosters

With all the demand out there, you’d think there would be a lot of marine-specific cell phone signal boosters. There aren’t, really. But, it is possible to adapt a cell booster designed for home into one for the water. It just takes a few more parts.

Choosing the right booster

Just like on land, your choice of cell booster depends on the size of the space you want to boost. Smaller areas will do just fine with a booster designed for cars or trucks. Larger ones will want to use a booster designed for a home or small office.

As a general rule you want to pick a booster that’s a little overpowered because boats tend to have a lot of wiring in the bulkheads that block cell signal. Unless you’re really trying to boost a fairly small area, you’ll want a booster designed to cover something larger than your boat.

The weBoost for Business series are really good choices for this sort of thing. They’ll provide enough boost for even the largest private vessel. While they will work out of the box, there’s an even better antenna choice that can be used.

The weBoost marine antenna

This is weBoost’s marine antenna. It’s intended to work on the standard 1″ x 14 marine mount, and provides the best possible solution for marine cell boosting. It is a 50-ohm antenna, meaning that you should choose a 50-ohm cell booster for best results. You’ll also need an SMA-to-N adapter to connect the cable to the booster, but that’s a pretty minor purchase.

Installation considerations

Obviously any electronic component should be installed in a waterproof area. The weBoost cell boosters aren’t waterproof, so make sure they are installed somewhere with some protection from the elements. Adequate ventilation is also a concern. These boosters don’t run terribly hot but you will want to make sure there’s some air circulation.

Get what you need from Solid Signal

Solid Signal has a wide variety of cell phone signal boosters and other marine products at our web site. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, give us a call! We have technicians standing by during East Coast business hours at 888-233-7563. 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.