Choosing the Best Mobile Network Booster
If you want to resolve your cell phone signal problems – dropped calls, stuck messages, slow data – you have options. Some cell carriers have developed their own mobile network booster, like the AT&T Microcell, and the T-Mobile Femtocell or CellSpot. You might be wondering how they work or how they’re different from cell boosters. A cell booster and a Microcell are both used in a situation involving limited cell reception, but they are totally different devices.
How Do the Microcell or Femtocell Work as a Mobile Network Booster?
Microcell refers to any mobile network booster device that you buy, plug into your router, and use to boost cell signal. It uses your internet connection to amplify your cell phone signal.
It almost seems appalling that your carrier would sell a mobile network booster to you. Shouldn’t great service be covered by your monthly fees? What you might not know is that the Microcell and the Femtocell require a broadband or cable connection to boost your signal. So, these devices need to translate and convert signal between cell and internet protocols/languages, which are both different.
Another downfall of the Microcell or Femtocell is that they boost signal by taking your weak cell signal and converting it to a strong Wi-Fi signal, and then back to strong cell phone signal. All the converting and translating makes these devices problematic. Most of the time users see 5 bars on their phone, but still drop calls or have new problems.
Another disadvantage is that the Microcell and Femtocell act as a mini cell tower and broadcast your internet connection. Anyone nearby can connect to the device. This might not be a problem if your neighbors are a few miles away from you, but if you live in an urban area or even a suburb, you’re going to have problems.
So, a Microcell creates cell signal in your office or home, and nearby. This means all other cellular devices that can pick up the signal can connect to it. Calls, texts, and data will be transferred on your internet connection. Devices will begin connecting to your Microcell as soon as you plug it in. Any additional data that is transferred on your network will affect your internet speed, especially if you have a limited or capped service. It could get troublesome if someone nearby is connected to your Microcell while they’re streaming an entire season on Netflix.
- Use even if you don’t have an existing cell phone signal
- Easy to set up
- May result in faster data connections than what you get with cell signals
- Translates between cell and TCP/IP Internet protocols or languages
- Converts between cell and Wi-Fi signals, then back again, which makes it glitchy
- Broadcast your internet connection and allow anyone to automatically connect to them
- Shares bandwidth with your router and affects internet speed
- Data used on your internet connection also counts toward cell usage
- Requires internet, and might result in charges from your cell service provider, so “costs more” per month
Why is a Cell Booster Different?
Cell boosters don’t have to work on translations because they operate on radio frequencies just like cell phones do. They take your existing mobile signal and amplify/repeat it. So, if you already get great service outside of your house or at a window in your house, you would install a repeater in the area with great service. The cell booster then amplifies and distributes strong mobile signal throughout your house. Phones in your house connect to the repeater, and the repeater is connected to nearby cell towers.
- Operates on radio frequencies like cell phones, so it doesn’t need to translate
- Doesn’t allow anyone to automatically connect to your devices or internet
- Does not compete with your Wi-Fi devices
- Works with any cell carrier or device, and supports simultaneous connections
- Doesn’t require internet so it can work in places without internet (campsites or other remote sites)
- One time purchase price and no monthly fees
- Seamless coverage even when switching from boosted signal to regular signal
- Need an existing cell signal, even if it is very weak
- Requires installation – finding cell towers, fixing antennas, running cable
Final Conclusions on Mobile Network Booster Options
There are several options available to you if you have a weak cell phone signal. You could resort to Wi-Fi calling, and then your phone would be connected directly to your router rather than working through a Microcell connected to your router. Guests would have to connect to your Wi-Fi, but then you’d be sure that anyone connected to your internet has your Wi-Fi password, giving you more control.
If you live a remote location with zero cell signal and far-flung neighbors, then you might consider using a Microcell as a mobile network booster. When that’s the case, your cell service provider will likely offer you a subsidized Microcell.
A cell phone signal booster is ideal for everyone that has existing cell service. Even if it is very weak, it can be amplified and re-transmitted throughout your car, truck, boat, RV, home, or office. It works using the same simple technology that your cell phone uses. It also won’t affect your data usage or broadband/cable connection. There’s a multitude of cell boosters available to you as well and weighing those options can get overwhelming. That’s why we created only 4 mobile network booster products that work with any carrier, any cellular device, in any given location.