This is a guest post from RepeaterStore. RepeaterStore.com provides amplification solutions to improve wireless cell and data reception in buildings, homes and vehicles. We’ve helped over 25,000 customers large and small improve their signal since 2007. Our headquarters are in beautiful Laguna Hills, California.
Our last post outlined how signal boosters work and how the FCC regulates them. Most booster kits typically contain two antennas: one that communicates with the cellphone tower, and another that communicates with the cell phone/other devices.
Installing a standard consumer signal booster kit isn’t especially difficult. Most people with minimal DIY experience should be able to do it. But it does have some challenges. Renters, for example, might not be able to drill to run cable through a wall (shorter cable length reduces signal loss). People also usually need to access their roof, because outside antennas should be placed as high up as possible, in the area receiving the best possible signal.
Both products are plug-and-play boosters aimed at consumers in apartments, condos or rentals that don’t have access to the roof or can’t mount an external antenna. They are designed to install in under 15 minutes. The kits have two parts–a signal booster with a built-in external antenna, and an interior antenna to send that signal throughout the home. Consumers just need to place the booster/antenna unit in an area that has signal (like a window), plug it into an electrical outlet and connect the interior antenna, then watch the signal improve.
One of the big challenges with these boosters is preventing oscillation. As we mentioned in our previous post, the FCC was very concerned with oscillation and requires every signal booster to have built-in protections to prevent oscillation from happening. A cellular booster system works best with a greater distance between the two antennas. If they are too close together, it can cause oscillation, or “feedback.” Feedback occurs when the outside antenna picks up the signal from the inside antenna, and attempts to feed it back into the system. The result is very similar to the feedback effect you see when you a move a microphone too close to speakers that are rebroadcasting the signal: sounds get trapped in a loop, causing a high-pitched noise. In a cellular network, this is seen as noise by both devices and cell phone towers, and degrades the overall quality of service for users.
To prevent oscillation, the “path loss” between the two antennas needs to sufficient (or more exactly, the path loss needs to be greater than the gain of the amplifier itself). In traditional signal boosters that path loss is achieved by placing the donor antenna on a roof. But these new devices don’t have exterior antennas on the roof, and as a result the amplifier unit and the inside antenna need to be at least 20 feet and ideally 30-35 feet apart so that the system has room to work effectively.
The eqo and the EZ-4G boost signal for 3G/4G/LTE across all US carriers. They are much less powerful than many other SureCall and weBoost boosters. Their lower coverage area of only 1-2 rooms making them a great choice for an apartment, but consumers who need a bigger coverage area will want to look at the bigger traditional kits.