A cell phone repeater is used for getting usable cellular signal in areas with bad network connectivity. This can be due to weak signal strength, misalignment of cellular towers, interference, construction materials, etc. This device receives a weak cellular signal, amplifies it, and broadcasts it to cellular devices. Manufacturers provide cellular repeater kits for various purposes or scenarios, and selecting the right one is important to get the best performance. This article explores the various steps involved in the setting up of a cell phone repeater, and shared below are details about it.
The Outside Antenna
The most important step in setting up a cell phone repeater is installing the outside antenna, and it is ideal to have a good line of sight between the antenna and the cellular tower. However, in many cases, this is not achievable due to obstructions like geographic features, buildings, forests, etc. Also, remote places like rural areas have weak signal strength because of not having a direct line of sight with the cellular tower. So, it is important to select the right type of outside antenna; they must have high gain and narrow beamwidth in the vertical direction.
The Signal Strength
You make decisions about setting up a cellular signal booster based on the outside signal strength, and it is measured in the unit decibel-milliwatts (dBm). If the signal fades between -120 dBm and -100 dBm, then there is no usable signal for the cell phone repeater unit. This is because by amplifying such a signal, the amplifier noise will be added to the noise in the source signal producing low-quality output. To get good signal strength, get to the highest accessible position in a building as it increases the chances of getting a direct line of sight with the cellular tower.
You can check the signal strength by searching for Signal Strength in the Settings menu on a Google Android mobile phone. Otherwise, use a signal meter to get an accurate measurement of the outside signal strength. Apart from these methods, there are Android apps on the play store that provide detailed signal information, RSSI signal strength, bit error rate (BER), signal to noise ratio (SNR), etc. Many of these apps measure the signal strength details of a location with GPS coordinates and save them in-app.
One of the most important steps in setting up a cell phone repeater is getting a good bidirectional amplifier from a reputed manufacturer. They can boost signals received by the outside antenna, as well as the signals sent by your phone to be transmitted to the cellular tower, and this is because the uplink and downlink are on different frequency bands. Also, you must choose an amplifier with either high gain or maximum power output. If the outside signal strength is poor, you choose an amplifier with high gain. Whereas you choose an amplifier with high output power if the outside signal strength is moderate, and this increases the coverage area of the booster.
To reduce the noise in the input signal to the amplifier, you select an outside antenna with high gain. Such antennas have a narrow angle of acceptance, and this ensures that the cellular signal is less corrupted by electromagnetic sources. Also, the amplifier must have a provision for feedback or oscillation detection. This ensures that the signal booster unit is shut down when there is crosstalk between the outside and inside antennas. When this happens, the signal from the inside antenna is picked up by the outside antenna and fed back into the system causing uncontrolled frequency oscillations. This can damage cellular devices in its service range, as well as the cellular tower to which it is transmitting.
It is ideal to select an amplifier with variable gain so that you can adjust it to get the optimal performance. Also, this helps you to avoid the risk of forming a positive feedback loop between the outside and inside antennas. Furthermore, the cell phone repeater must be approved by the respective telecom regulatory agency and should be registered with the carrier. You must check this information, especially when purchasing third-party signal boosters.
Before installing a cell phone repeater, it is important to know the frequency band of the cellular signal. Most carriers use multiple bands to improve the quality of network coverage, and they do not advertise this information. The frequency band used at a location depends on the local situation. Higher frequency bands are used in urban locations to restrict the range of a cellular tower and prevent interference. Also, a combination of higher and lower frequency bands is used in heavily populated areas for better coverage. In rural areas, lower frequency bands are used for providing stronger signals when there is no direct line of sight. There are two reasons for this: their refraction is more around the edges of objects and can be deployed earlier with less frequent upgrades.
On a final note, when selecting an amplifier, ensure that it is a dual-band device. These are the important points that you must remember when setting up a cell phone repeater at your place.