I am always amazed by the sheer number of people who live with bad cell service. Think about it. Your cell phone is probably your most important possession. (Would you really feel as worried about leaving anything else at home?) It’s one of the most expensive things people buy. Yet up to 90% of people deal with bad cell service at some point in the day. Does that make sense?
How to improve cell service
Back in the 1990s, cell phones actually had antennas that you could see. If you needed a bigger one, there was usually a connector for one. So if there was a reception problem, you could deal with it. In the age of the pocketable smartphone, those options are gone. The antenna is part of the case, which makes it work worse actually. The external connector’s gone too. People wanted smaller phones, and that’s what it took.
So, the option for better cell service isn’t just to improve the phone. You have to improve service where you are. That’s where a cellular signal booster comes in. A cell booster takes a signal that’s too weak to make it indoors and amplifies it. They’re available at Solid Signal (of course) and they’re easy to self-install in most cases.
Best of all, cell boosters come in kits that have everything you should need to get the job done. You’ll get the amplifier, two antennas, and all the cable it should take. But what if it isn’t enough?
Where to use a cellular antenna
A lot of people are under the mistaken impression that you can connect a cellular antenna right to the phone, or that somehow just putting it up without a booster is going to help you somehow. Unfortunately neither of those things are true. A cellular antenna is just one part of a whole cellular booster system. Just buying it separately isn’t going to help you.
Because your cell booster kit comes with an antenna you might be asking yourself why anyone would buy a different cellular antenna. Good question! While the antennas that come with the kits are good, there’s always the ability to upgrade. Upgrading means you can get two or three times as much cell signal to your booster system and that’s going to help in fringe areas where the tower is a few miles away.
The biggest antenna in the world isn’t going to help you if the antenna is so far away that you can’t receive any signal. Cell towers are generally spaced 1-2 miles apart and it’s practically impossible to get any signal past that point.
The antenna upgrade I recommend
This Altelix Yagi antenna is going to give you the best possible cell service. Mount it high up on a roof and point it at the nearest cell tower. If you don’t know where the closest tower is you can use a site like this one. Aiming is pretty important with a big Yagi like this one, so bring a compass or try to use your mapping app to get a good idea where you’re pointing.
The antenna comes in two versions. The 75 Ohm version is for home systems that use the same cable that your TV service uses. The 50 Ohm version is designed for commercial systems that use the thicker cable with chunky N-connectors. Choose the version that makes sense with your booster.
The typical omnidirectional cell antenna gives you about 3dB of gain, which corresponds to twice the signal you’d get without an antenna. This antenna gives a staggering 12 dB of gain which means almost 20 times the signal you would get without any antenna at all. It should connect easily in place of your system’s existing antenna for a quick upgrade.
One thing to know…
Because this is a highly directional antenna, you may find that your signal with one carrier is much stronger while the signal with another carrier is weaker. That would be due to the different carriers having different tower locations. If this problem happens you can actually put up multiple antennas and point them at each tower. A cheap splitter can be used as a combiner to get all the signals on the same cable.