When will we start seeing 5G cell boosters?

5G. It has us all anxious. It’s so close! By this time next year I expect that about 25% of people will have access to 5G cell service or 5G home internet. It’s a major change in the way we use the internet because it gets rid of a major issue that we’ve all faced for over a decade.

Today, you have a choice. You can have virtually unlimited high-speed internet at home. That service comes over fiber and goes into your wireless router. Or, you can have slower internet, often with data caps, on your cell phone. No wire is needed so you can get this service pretty much anywhere.

The biggest problem with this is that you’re paying twice. You’re paying once for home internet, something you probably don’t use during the day, and once for cellular internet, something you don’t use while you’re at home.

5G has the potential to deliver high-speed, virtually unlimited internet to your home OR phone using the same technology. This could mean only one bill and only one charge for internet. It could also mean that the death of “home networking” because why wouldn’t you just use your phone for everything? If you want to stream on a TV, why not just use a wireless hotspot and pay less than you’re paying now for home internet? Or, permanently connect a 5G antenna to your roof and use it like traditional fiber-based internet service?

The booster question

Within a few years, 5G will be the only thing that matters in cell service. However, there are no 5G cell boosters on the market today, and there aren’t likely to be any on the market for several years to come. As far as I know, no manufacturer even has one on the drawing board because the FCC still has to start the long and complicated process of approving cell booster makers even using the 5G frequencies. That isn’t going to happen until TV broadcasters, who are still using some of those frequencies, stop using them.

It is likely to be between 3 and 5 years before we see a 5G cell booster. That’s good news for you if you’re thinking of buying a cell booster today. Why? Because your purchase won’t be instantly obsolete. There are also some things you need to consider before worrying about a 5G booster.

Just because you need a booster now doesn’t mean you will in the future.

5G technology is going to require a LOT more cell towers. The towers will be small, but you’ll need more of them in order to get that super fast service on the super high frequencies needed for 5G. It’s not clear how many more, but it’s possible that you could see a cell tower every 500 feet or so in the future. Today you see one or two towers per mile in general.

So, it’s possible that even if you’re getting poor service today, you won’t when 5G finally hits your neighborhood. Depending on where you live, that could be later this year, sometime next year, or who knows.

“Fixed Wireless” installs probably won’t need a booster.

Fixed Wireless 5G means 5G cellular internet that’s actually built into your home. An antenna sits on your roof and provides you with home internet just the way that a fiber connection does now. It’s pretty unlikely you won’t need a booster if you have a fixed wireless installation. Fixed wireless systems will either connect to Wi-Fi or simply boost 5G signals within the house. It’s possible they will do both. The main antenna will be outside, just like a cell booster, and the signal will be inside. This should mean that you don’t actually need a cell booster for fixed wireless internet.

Think toward the future but act now

If you have bad cell service now inside your home or office, don’t wait for 5G to come. Buy a cell booster now. Get great cell service and when 5G comes, keep shopping at Solid Signal for the cellular accessories you need.

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.