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8 FAQs Answered For Potential Signal Booster Customers

8 FAQs Answered For Potential Signal Booster Customers

Posted by Greg Knell on 1st May 2020

Quick Summary of Why Is My Phone Dropping Calls? (8 Signal Booster Questions Answered)

  1. Why won’t my phone make a call?
  2. Why is my phone dropping calls?
  3. Why do some cell phones have better signal reception than others?
  4. What technologies can improve my cell signal?
  5. Do cell phone signal boosters really work?
  6. Are Wi-Fi networks amplified by cell signal boosters?
  7. Do U.S. and Canadian cell phone boosters work in other countries?
  8. Should I use a directional or omnidirectional outside antenna?
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We’ve been asked a lot of signal booster-related questions over the years, as you would expect. Potential customers, especially, are consistently searching for answers related to boosters and their phones by calling us and searching online. We’ve compiled answers to 8 of those common questions here. If you haven’t bought a cell phone signal booster yet because of unanswered questions, keep reading. The information below will surely fill in many blanks for you.

1. Why won’t my phone make a call?

Short answer: poor or no signal, tower overload, or you haven’t restarted your phone in a while.

Sometimes, when you select a contact and press Call, the call screen appears but you never hear a dial tone. The call doesn’t go through.

Does this happen to you a lot?

This is a common occurrence for mobile phones in an area with a very poor or nonexistent signal. Look on your phone’s home screen in the upper right-hand corner. (Or upper left-hand corner, depending on what phone you have). Does it look something like one of these images?

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If so, then you live in an area with poor (or no) signal. In order for your phone to make and receive calls properly, there has to be at least a minimum level of cell signal in your location. If this is normal for you, consider getting a signal booster.

Of course, this is all assuming that your phone is working properly. The first thing you should try if you consistently can’t complete calls is restarting your phone. Phones need to update their coverage capabilities. Some models don’t do this automatically and require a restart for these changes to take place. So restart your phone, first and foremost. If you’re still unable to complete calls, consider getting a signal booster.

Another thing that can cause calls to not go through is cell tower overload. This happens when there is suddenly an uncharacteristically large number of people using the same cell tower (concerts, rallies, stand-still traffic, etc). Calls and data speeds may be spotty under in a situation like this. It’s up to you whether or not you want to get a booster in these circumstances. It certainly would help.

2. Why is my phone dropping calls?

Short answer: traveling through or living in dead zones, and tower overload.

Few things are as frustrating as dropped calls, especially if it happens a lot. So why is my phone dropping calls?

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Most of the time, this happens when you're traveling while talking. If you’re driving on the freeway, for instance, and you pass through an area with poor signal, the call will likely drop. Sometimes that travel happens from one room in your home or office to another, where the signal drops off significantly.

However, if you’re not moving and your dropping calls, that’s different. The most common reason for this is tower overload. During tower overload, the signal fluctuates which causes dropped calls for many people connected to that tower.

We definitely recommend a signal booster if this is common for you. It's great to fill in the gaps of coverage while driving and help boost the signal in rooms of your home or office.

3. Why do some cell phones have better signal reception than others?

Short answer: phone design, carrier coverage, or your hand blocking the phone’s internal antenna.

Since there is not a complete standard that all mobile phone manufacturers are required to adhere to, there’s a wide array of styles, operating systems, and antennas, available to consumers. And some are built better than others. Each manufacturer has their own design strategy. And some phones are built with a stronger emphasis on performance and connectivity than others.

Aside from the fact that some phones are simply built with better signal capabilities, there’s another thing that, historically, has affected signal quality. The way you hold your phone.

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For years, as pocket-sized phones became widespread, many of the major phone manufacturers had complaints from customers having signal issues. These issues were discovered to be design-based, having to do with where the internal antenna was located inside the phone. People would unknowingly obstruct the antenna with their hand without realizing it. Even Apple had this problem back in 2010 with the iPhone 4.

These issues are much rarer than they used to be. But they’re not entirely eradicated, according to some accounts. It may be worth it to check around online to see if other people with the same phone as you have had signal hand-obstruction signal issues. Though rare, it’s still a possibility.

Also remember that all cell phone networks (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc) have different coverage levels. Some networks work in some areas and others don’t. Though that isn’t related to the model of your phone, it’s still worth mentioning.

Cell phone signal boosters can address these issues nicely. They're carrier agnostic, meaning they boost all carrier signals simultaneously, if needed. They also make it so your phone doesn't have to work as hard to push its signal to the tower, which could be a weakness related to the phones design.

4. What technologies can improve my cell signal?

Short answer: Wi-Fi calling, signal boosters/Passive DAS, and carrier-specific signal boosters.

Cellular technology has come a very long way since 1973 when the first mobile phone call was placed. Years later, 2G networks were introduced in the mid-90s which truly advanced the progression of personal cell phones. Today, 3.5 billion people (and counting) have smartphones.

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But as proficient as cellular technology has become, there’s one particular problem that still exists. One that you’ve likely experienced many times. You walk into an elevator or a commercial building and your signal quality plummets. And if you go down into a basement or far into the interior of the structure, this is a common answer to why is my phone dropping calls.

Now, sometimes this happens because the signal you were connected to outside - before entering the building or elevator - was already subpar. If this is the case, there’s no way a weak signal will penetrate even simple drywall or wood framing. Let alone a structure made of steel or concrete. But sometimes your signal still takes a dive when entering a place like a commercial building, even when the signal outside is strong.

Though there’s something called DAS technology that is often used in situations like this, there’s a few things about it worth noting. First of all, it’s extremely costly. That’s why this is typically only used for very large structures like airports and similar places over 500K sq ft. Also, you must have carrier approval for each network, which makes the process long and costly.

But airports are not our focus. You are. So, what technologies can improve YOUR specific cell signal on a daily basis?

Wi-Fi Calling

This is a feature on most cell phones and offered through most carriers, and it can be effective when your phone and carrier allow it (most newer phones have it). Some challenges exist though. Often wi-fi calling doesn't hand off the call back to the network very well when you leave the wifi calling area. Also, it's been known to bog down your wifi depending on your Internet plan and upload/download speeds. Additionally, if you don't have signal in much of your home, friends who visit will have the same problem unless you let them on your network too.

Signal Boosters/Passive DAS

At a fraction of the cost of large-scale DAS, signal boosters, or passive DAS systems are a great option. Also, because of SureCall's patent to boost all 5 main carrier frequency bands at the same time, it doesn't matter what carrier you have. There are multiple applications for homes, cars, RVs, buildings, marine vehicles, and more. The challenge, you need a signal to boost, but often, even a faint signal outside can be used to bring signal to multiple rooms or enough in a car to make a call or stream your favorite video.

Carrier-Specific Boosters

Aside from being two to three times more expensive than the cell signal boosters mentioned above, carrier-specific boosters often operate at higher gain (which means increased coverage area). The only issue that crops up for some people is that carrier-specific boosters don't boost multiple carriers simultaneously, so multiple systems are needed, which adds to the cost. However, if you're in a spot with terrible signal outside, and only have one carrier being used inside, these can be a good option. So using this method to boost your signal is usually dependent on the circumstances.

5. Do cell phone signal boosters really work?

Short answer: Yes, as long as there is an existing (even weak) signal at your location.

Signal boosters are essentially electronic amplifiers. They locate nearby cellular frequencies and boost them using electrical power. (In other words, make sure your signal booster is plugged in so it that can work properly.) Because the foundational technology on which these devices operate is simple, they have a very high success rate. That’s at least one of the reasons.

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But in order for the device to boost your signal, there has to be an existing signal at your location. Cell phone signal boosters don’t create signal out of thin air. They boost existing signals at your location. So if you’re out on the mountain where there’s no cell reception at all, a booster won’t help. That’s because there needs to be at least some signal present.

Often though, a faint signal is enough as the antennas on a booster are very strong to pull and push the signal back to the tower from your device. The weaker your signal though, the smaller your coverage area will be.

Check out this article that outlines the capabilities of SureCall boosters at various signal strengths.

6. Are Wi-Fi networks amplified by cell signal boosters?

Short answer: no, they don’t.

Cell signal boosters don’t have anything to do with WiFi frequencies. Those are altogether different from cellular frequencies.

Sometimes people mistakenly conflate WiFi connections with the data networks of their cellular providers. Though they are completely different, this misunderstanding is understandable. Your phone can go between WiFi and your cellular network easily. It can function properly whether it’s connected to either one. In fact, inside your phone are two separate antennas. One for WiFi connections and one for cellular signals.

7. Do U.S. and Canadian cell phone boosters work in other countries?

Short answer: Yes in some countries, no in others.

As an example, the U.S. and Canada both operate on GSM 850/1900 MHz cellular frequencies. Any country that operates within these frequencies will have no problem using an North American cell phone signal booster. But there are other countries who operate a GSM 900/1800 MHz standard. North American boosters will not work in these countries.

Then there are countries that use both MHz standards depending on the area within that country. Our boosters may or may not work there.

This map shows the countries where our boosters will, will not, and might work:

Home Remote

8. Should I use a directional or omnidirectional outside antenna?

Short answer: It depends.

Every signal booster needs what’s called a donor antenna. This is an outside antenna usually placed on the roof of a building or vehicle. There are two kinds of outside antennas: directional and omnidirectional.

Directional antennas are given that name because they work by being precisely positioned in the direction of the relevant cell tower. Pointing right at it. Omnidirectional antennas, on the other hand, have a 360-degree communication range. They can communicate with any tower - even more than one at the same time - in any direction.

There are other unique details that set these antennas apart from each other. To learn more about them, click here.

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Omnidirectional antenna

For our purposes here, we’ll simply tell you what circumstances call for one or the other. Directional antennas should be used when:

  • All cell towers that you may need are located in the same direction from your location.
  • You’re fortunate to know where the cell tower you need to communicate with is located.
  • The cell tower you need access to is far away.

Omnidirectional antennas should be used when:

  • You live in a dense forest, mountainous area, or urban environment. Sometimes weak signals result from the signal being reflected off of numerous objects, natural or man-made. (Special note: sometimes a directional antenna is best in these situations due to distance from the cell tower.)
  • You have more than one cellular network being used in your home.
  • You're using a vehicle.

We’ve found that in the majority of scenarios, a directional antenna is almost always superior to omni as they make the system work better for you, the end-user. Especially if you live in a rural area.

Why Is My Phone Dropping Calls? (8 Signal Booster Questions Answered) - Conclusion

Similar articles answering common questions are soon to come. We’ll be answering questions for those wanting to use signal boosters for business purposes followed by answers for residential use.