Cell phone booster

As I mentioned in another thread, coverage here is not great – and it’s been particularly bad the last several days. Virgin Mobile says maintenance on the tower was completed yesterday, but it can take several days for it to be operational. This is a problem, an Mrs. L.A., RN, is on call this weekend. I thought it might be nice to get a signal booster. It’s too late for Mrs. L.A.'s on-call weekend, but it would improve reception the rest of the time too.

If they actually work.

For a couple/three hundred dollars, they’d better work! Any suggestions?

If your phone is relatively recent, it may support WiFi calling, where the cellular data is sent over your WiFi network. It may be dependent on your cell carrier as well, but it might help.

It’s a refurbished iPhone 6S. The wife has some sort of LG she got… four years ago?

ETA: No option for WiFi cell phone calls on the iPhone.


According to Apple, WiFi calling is supported on the iPhone 5c or later, but it also depends on your carrier. So it may be possible for you.

I went to Settings => Phone and there is no WiFi option.

I did some more checking, and Virgin doesn’t offer the WiFi calls option.

So… Opinions on in-home boosters?

No one on the internet is going to be able to tell you if a cell phone booster will work for you or not. No cell phone booster will work if you have no signal at all. The cell phone booster may work, and may not, if all you have is a weak signal. The addage YMMV applies here.

I have one in a cabin, but I can get a weak signal if I climb onto the roof (we are behind a hill). Even then, I had to “upgrade” the external antennae to a beam antennae just to pull in enough cell signal to be useful. It works, but not as well as I would like.

Since you have internet service, I would first look into what is known as a “femtocell”. It is a device that becomes your own cell phone tower, and connects to the cell phone network via your internet. Nothing special on the phone is required.

I have one of these, which AT&T gave to me several years ago – we’re in a suburban area, but due to lots of trees, and some local regulations about cell towers, cell reception in our area is terrible. It’s worked with three generations of our iPhones, and I’ll be very sad if it ever stops working.

What’s the difference between a Femtocell and a cell phone booster?

That is an interesting question - I didn’t know but this explained it well.

A cell phone booster takes an existing cell phone signal (radio signal) and “boosts” it stronger, by retransmitting it. It also is considered a cell phone signal (radio signal) “repeater”.

A femtocell translates a cell signal (radio signal) to internet information, and vice versa.

I have one of these:

Using LTE discovery app on Android, best signal without it was around -115dBm on Band 12 with AT&T. Mounting to the side of my house on second story and spending time aiming with it, best signal was around -90dBm right on top of the antenna. Likes to swap now to Band 2 at -105 or -110 where it just couldn’t connect to Band 2 before though, so you want an app that lists the band as well as the signal or the numbers might not make sense.
Seems to boost an area for me around 20ish feet from the inside antenna, or around 600 square feet or so (inside antenna is direction too, so not a circle around it). Stronger signal to begin with or maybe a pole well clear of my roof might get me more, but it does work, but doesn’t cover nearly the area they claim. The FCC allows more gain/boost on devices “for a specific carrier” so if you find one with just your carrier frequency it may work a little better at the cost of only working for that carrier/frequency.