9 Frequently Asked Questions About Cell Boosters (Workplace Edition)

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Quick Summary of Cell Boosters: Workplace-Related FAQs – (9 Questions Answered):

  1. Why does my call drop when I walk into my building?
  2. How do window tint and low‑e glass affect cell signals?
  3. How can I get better cell signal in a metal building?
  4. Why can some cell phones in my building make calls while others can’t?
  5. Will my carrier fix the cell signal problem in my building?
  6. Why is the cell signal in my house better in some rooms compared to others?
  7. Where should I install my signal booster if I work from home?
  8. Should everyone who works from home get cell boosters?
  9. Does my carrier need to approve cell boosters?
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What follows are answers to some of the most commonly-asked cell booster questions as they pertain to the workplace. Whether your workspace is in the comfort of your own house or in an office building away from home, the answers found here will be very helpful to you. As the gap between people working from home and those who don’t becomes smaller, cell phone signal boosters are as important as they’ve ever been. And the more you know, the better you’ll be able to troubleshoot your own unique work situation.

Let’s start with 5 questions related to signal boosters in the traditional workplace. Then three more that address concerns surrounding working from home.

Working In An Office Building

1. Why does my call drop when I walk into my building?

In almost every scenario where this happens to you, building materials are the culprit. Most commercial buildings are made in large part of things like low-e glass, steel, stone, and concrete. All of these materials are notorious for blocking radio frequency signals. And that includes cellular wavelengths.

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Every so often, the cell signal isn’t completely blocked by the building materials but only reduced. Unfortunately, when this happens the signal is usually reduced so low that it’s unusable. And if the area where the building resides already has a low cell signal, and then you find yourself inside the walls of that building, your signal is going to be non-existent (or close to it). In most cases, signals inside these structures are reduced by around 30%.

2. How do window tint and low‑e glass affect cell signals?

Many commercial buildings, as well as residential homes, have what’s called low-e glass. Low-e stands for low-emissivity. This glass is built with a transparent, metallic, microscopic thin coating that reflects infrared and ultraviolet radiation. It’s also designed to lower the amount of heat entering the home or building.

Windows made from this glass make it difficult for cell signals to pass through as cellular devices are in the infrared spectrum. In fact, some heavy duty brands of low-e glass are made to block all RF (radio frequency) signals. It’s common for high-security buildings to install it.

3. How can I get better cell signal in a metal building?

It can be difficult to increase your signal in a metal building. This is because most metals reflect radio signals. Metal walls and roofs make it very hard for people inside to get anything but a poor cell signal.

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If you spend a lot of time in a building or home like this, getting a cell phone signal booster is your best bet. In fact, getting the right one could solve your problem altogether. The booster you choose should depend on the square footage of the area you need covered. All of SureCall’s boosters classified as “consumer boosters” by the FCC are extremely easy to install compared to similar solutions for buildings, and come pre-approved from the carriers. Here are some great options.

4. Why can some cell phones in my building make calls while others can’t?

There are a few reasons why this can happen. The main ones are carrier frequency or where you are inside the building.

Carrier frequency: there are many different cell frequencies available for carriers (Verizon, AT&T, etc) to use, and each carrier uses a different one. These frequencies operate on slightly varying MHz. And it’s harder for a higher-frequency wave to pass through building materials than a lower-frequency wave. So, for example, let’s say your carrier operates on a 700 MHz frequency and your co-worker’s carrier operates on a 1900 MHz. In this case, you’ll have better cell signal than them while you’re both at work. (In the world of RW frequencies, a higher number means a higher frequency).

Where you are inside the building: If you are deep inside the bowels of the building — on a lower floor, and closer to the center of the building, for example — your cell signal will likely not be good. But if you’re right next to (or close) to an exterior window or wall, your signal will be better. The more walls or obstacles the signal must pass through to get to you, the worse your signal will be.

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5. Will my carrier fix the cell signal problem in my building?

More than likely, no. But remember that billions of dollars are spent by individual carriers each year to improve their networks. Increasing their nationwide coverage is one of their highest priorities. But addressing an isolated signal issue in a local building is reasonably not on their do-to list. They’re attempting to fix signal issues on a larger scale all the time.

Hopefully those who are in charge of your building are doing the best they can to improve the signal by using cell boosters.

Working From Home

6. Why is the cell signal in my house better in some rooms compared to others?

If you work from home, a strong cell signal and a reliable Wi-Fi connection are probably important. And sometimes these signals and connections are stronger in certain areas of the home. What gives?

Your literal geographical position — where you are standing in a given moment — greatly affects the quality of your cell signal. Even inside your own home. Where the cell tower is in relationship to your house or room plays a role. Perhaps a particular room in your home is next to the garage, which is made of metal or concrete, making line-of-sight from that room to the cell tower impeded by the garage. This is just one example that could be a possible reason why cell signal is bad in a particular room. Take this into consideration when trying to troubleshoot.

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Also, a point mentioned in Section 4 applies here. Each carrier’s coverage area is different. If you had AT&T, for example, and recently switched to T-Mobile, these two companies have completely different coverage areas. This means that some carriers have a stronger (or weaker) signal in certain areas.

7. Where should I install cell boosters if I work from home?

Deciding where to put your home signal booster follows the same steps whether you work from home or not. You just need to get some numbers. It’s really easy. You simply need to make a signal map of your house, inside and outside. All you need is your smart phone.

Step 1: Put your phone in Test Mode.

What you need to do is find out where the strongest signal is outside of the house and where the weakest signal is inside of the house. It won’t take more than 10-15 minutes to do this, maybe less. Just take your smart phone and put it in test mode.

Note: Yes, you can just use the bars on your phone to test signal in different areas, but it’s not very accurate. We recommend using the test mode method for precise readings.

To put your iPhone in test mode, simply dial *3001#12345#* and then press the Call button. Then drag your finger down from the top of your screen. Your signal strength will now be displayed in the top left-hand corner of your screen.


Update: if you have an iPhone 11 or newer, this method won’t work. The new iOS has disabled users and apps to get the dBm measurement. We recommend downloading an app that tests dBm and using it to get your numbers. There are many available.

On an Android device, go to SettingsAbout DeviceStatus. Your signal reading will be displayed near the middle of the screen under the Signal Strength subheading.

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Signal strength will always be displayed as negative number. The closer that number gets to 0 the better it is. For example, a -120 is a virtually unusable signal. While a -40 is about a good as you can get.

Step 2: Notate signal strength inside and outside your home

Now that your phone is in test mode, walk around the outside of your house. Find the side of your house that has the strongest signal. You want to install the outside antenna on that side of the house. Then come inside the house, walk around, and find the area of weakest signal. This is most likely where you want to put the inside antenna. The stronger the signal outside of your home, the better the signal booster can boost the signal inside your home.

Step 3: Choose where to install your signal booster

If you’ve been smart about where you placed the antennas, you can really put it anywhere you’d like. It just has to (1) have adequate ventilation, (2) be close to a power outlet so you can plug it in, and (3) it’s within reach of the two antenna cables. You can hide it behind a piece of furniture or you can install it in a closet. Many people go with one of those options.

8. Should everyone who works from home get cell boosters?

Though a cell signal booster will certainly help under any circumstance, it may not be necessary for everyone. Obviously, if you’re working from home and have problems with cell signal, you should consider getting one. But if your signal is already strong, you may not need one. Do a signal test like we described above if you need help determining whether or not you should buy one. The best test: Do you drop calls? If the answer is never, you’re fine. If it’s seldom to quite often, a booster will almost certainly help.

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9. Does my carrier need to approve my cell booster system?

If you purchase cell boosters from SureCall, there’s no need to get pre-approval from your carrier. All of our devices are classified as consumer devices by the FCC. However, when you buy a signal booster, you do need to register it with your carrier. You can do that by calling their customer service line and speaking with a representative. And some carriers have features on their website that allow customers to register their cell boosters online.

Note: there’s one exception. You have to get pre-approval from your carrier to operate your signal booster if it’s an industrial device, but those are for very large applications on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions about these, please contact our customer service team.

Cell Boosters: Workplace-Related FAQs (9 Questions Answered) – Conclusion

Look out for more articles coming soon that answer more work-related cell signal booster questions. If we covered something here that you were specifically wondering about, save the article for future reference. And share it with others you know who have been looking for answers to questions about cell boosters.

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