HiBoost's Cell Phone Signal Booster Guide for 2019

For most people purchasing a cell phone signal booster is a first time thing and everyone, especially before they spend a few hundred dollars, wants to make sure they understand what they are about to purchase. That's why we have put together our comprehensive cell phone signal booster guide to help those unfamiliar with the industry and technology learn enough to make an informed decision about them. 

Table of Contents

  • What is Good Signal?
  • What Causes Bad Signal
  • How Cell Phone Signal Boosters Work
  • Radio Frequency Bands and Applications
  • The Generations of Cellular Technology
  • Decibels and Gain 

    An Introduction to Signal

    What is Good Signal?

    Everyone has had the experience at one time or another of being in a location that had poor cellular service. It may have been on a road trip, inside a basement, at Aunt Rose’s farm or at a sporting event. There are many factors that influence how and if a good signal reaches our mobile devices. Radio signals used in radio telephony fade significantly over distance, it is something that is factored into the design of the system. It allows frequencies to be re-used repeatedly and thus vastly increases the number of subscribers that can communicate with one another. Radio signals also can be blocked by terrain, buildings, vehicles and even people. Each tower location can only support a finite number of users. In some cases, it is not economically feasible for carriers to provide services in certain areas. Other areas may have an excessive amount of interference from other radio frequency sources. For our discussion, we will classify good signals under the following criteria:

    1. Calls do not drop.

    2. Voice calls are intelligible and at or near full fidelity, without excessive background noise.

    3. Data can be uploaded and downloaded at a rate consistent with the design of the device and the type of plan the customer subscribes to.

    What about bars?

    Bars are more a marketing tool then a measurement tool. In fact, the carriers and device manufacturers program mobile devices to show what they want you to see. Two bars on one carrier can be four bars on another. There is in fact no standard that anyone goes by or that is enforced by consumer groups or regulators. It is the wild west out there!

     There are charts on the internet that try to equate the number of bars you have with the strength of your signal. Just remember that strength and quality are two separate issues. A poor quality “strong” signal can be next to useless, but a clean signal of two bars might be all your device needs. As we move forward in this training this is an import concept to keep in mind.

    The figure directly above displays a range decibels (dB) relative to distance from a cell phone tower. The higher dB represents what good and poor signals look like when measured with a signal meter. Keep in mind, some areas with excellent signal will measure over -50 dB. In the downtown Dallas area where I live the signals regularly reach into the high -30’s while I am in my car. Note that the closer the number gets to zero the better the signal. The more negative a signal becomes the worse it gets. -50 is very good, -100 is just at the edge of usable signal.

    The figure above represents a signal strength measurement of your phone from the cell phone tower. If you are curious about how to measure signal quality, see the figure below. Please note that this quality measurement system is used for 4G LTE only. Below the figure is an explanation of what the terms means.

    Signal Quality and Strength

    SINR/SNR – The signal-to-noise ratio of the given signal.

    RSRP – The average power received from a single Reference signal, and Its typical range is around -44dbm (good) to -140dbm (bad).

    RSRQ – Indicates quality of the received signal, and its range is typically -19.5dB(bad) to -3dB (good).

    As you can see the topic of what a good signal is can quickly go from a simple subjective evaluation to lots of serious math in a hurry. However, you don’t have to be a telecom engineer to understand the technology.

    What Causes Bad Signal

    Poor signal is usually a combination of four different factors and just one being present can be enough to block reception and cause dropped calls, deadzones, and missed text messages or emails.

    One of the most common culprits of poor signal is building material. Not only is older material such as brick, stone, cement, and steel hard for cell phone signal to penetrate. Newer materials such as radiant barriers and low E Glass are designed in a way that maximizes heat insulation while unfortunately blocking cell reception very effectively as well.

    How Cell Phone Signal Boosters Work

    Cell towers give off signal but it weakens over distance and as it encounters obstacles.

    A HiBoost outdoor antenna picks up the weak signal.  

    The HiBoost cell phone  signal booster strengthens and amplifies the weak signal.

    The now boosted signal is sent to the indoor antenna which distributes it within your space.

    Boosted signal allows you to make phone calls, send texts, and surf the web using 4G LTE.

    Cell phone signal boosters bring cell phone coverage into buildings that have poor or no cell phone coverage. HiBoost’s broadband system consists of one or more outdoor antennas connected to one or more indoor antennas linked by a bi-directional amplifier. The bi-directional amplifier actively boosts the signals from both the cell tower and the user’s mobile device. The signal booster system provides an active uplink path from the mobile device to the cell tower while simultaneously providing an active downlink path from the tower to the mobile device. The bi-directional amplifier in the cell phone signal booster system provides automatic gain control and signal processing to ensure trouble free operation.

    Cell Phone Signal Booster Block Diagram

    Cell phone signal boosters are often referred to as bi-directional amplifiers and or repeaters. If you are familiar with land mobile radio systems, the term repeater will be familiar to you. Their basic operation was described in the previous paragraph. In block diagram above, you can see the set-up for a typical analog cell phone signal booster. Some of the key components are:

    1. Duplexer. This is a set of band pass filters that allow the indoor and outdoor antennas to both receive and broadcast at the same time. Cellular technology is based on the concept of full duplex communication. Your wireless device transmits a signal on one set of frequencies while the tower communicates with your wireless device on another set of frequencies. This is what makes normal conversation possible. This is unlike using a two-way radio or “walkie talkie” in which the radio can either “listen” or “transmit” but can’t perform these operations simultaneously. A two-way radio is an example of a half-duplex system.

    2. LNA or Low Noise Amplifier. These are special amplifiers that carefully boost the energy of very weak radio frequency or RF signals without distorting them or adding “noise”.

    3. Filter. The filter stage of the signal path is where unneeded emissions and noise are removed from the signal before it is rebroadcasted to either the indoor or outdoor antenna.

    4. Power Amplifier or PA. The PA is what “drives” or sends the needed energy to the antenna so that it can radiate a signal.

      Radio Frequency Bands and Applications

      At this point, you've probably noticed that we have referred to frequency bands a few times and you might be confused as to what they are. These bands reference the part of the radio wave spectrum they belong to. The FCC sells licenses to these bands of the spectrum to telecom carriers for them to allow customers to operate their phones on. HiBoost cell phone signal boosters operate use a broadband technology that amplifies all bands, unlike some of our competitors that cannot amplify a few select bands.

      Carriers don't use one single band to provide their services throughout an area. Your phone's radio is programmed to switch between bands to provide the best quality and strength of the signal. Despite the fact that HiBoost cell phone signal boosters provide a complete solution in that they are guaranteed to boost any signal regardless of band frequency or network it is still important to know what band your carrier uses in your area.

      This is because the frequency of your signal plays an important role in how far it will go and how strong it will be. Signals at a higher frequency are more easily blocked by obstructions such as building materials. Even after the signal is amplified by a cell phone signal booster it can struggle to pierce walls and other obstructions throughout your home. For example, a signal on the 850 MHz band would be able to much more effectively pass through a wall then say a signal on the 2100 MHz band.

      High frequency signals, while easily impeded, make up the backbone of the LTE networks that allow faster data transmissions and higher quality phone calls. 

      The Generations of Cell Phone Technology

      Mobile technology has now been around for decades. What started as beepers and pagers has evolved into small computers that have more computing power than the Apollo 11 spacecraft. This has been marked by many innovations and each key one has ushered in new generations, or "G's". Currently, we use 4G LTE for most of our cellular needs but we are going to quickly go over each generation to explain the differences and how they relate to cell phone signal boosters.

      1G: The first generation was our initial step into portable radio communication. While the technology was still analog it allowed for the first step into mobile communication. The first 1G nationwide network was started in Japan in 1979 when it was founded in Tokyo. It took five years for the infrastructure to expand to cover the entire nation. It was not until 1983 until the first 1G network was created in America.

      2G: The second generation was perhaps the biggest leap forward in technology and occurred in the early 1990's. With 2G we began encoding signals digitally instead of by analog. This allowed for the first data transmissions over radio frequencies though they are very limited. 2G was divided into two technologies CDMA and GSM. Verizon and Sprint adopted CDMA while AT&T and T-Mobile adopted GSM. Nowadays 2G is almost never used and most networks are actually reclaiming their 2G infrastructure to use for 4G LTE and 5G networks.

      3G: The third generation of cellular technology began seeing use in 1998. 3G provided faster data services and in later iterations even provided comparable internet connection to broadband. 3G is also divided into two primary technologies, CDMA2000 and UMTS/WCDMA/HSPA. CDMA2000 is used by Verizon and Sprint and UMTS/WCDMA/HSPA is used by AT&T and T-Mobile. 3G is still used in areas where 4G LTE has not yet expanded to. This is also the era that most cell phone signal boosters began to be used. 

      4G LTE: The fourth generation, which is often followed by an LTE for Long Term Evolution, is the most recent generation. 4G was primarily used to expand the internet capabilities of mobile devices while carriers relied on their 2G and 3G networks for voice. However, most calls are now made over 4G LTE networks now, Sprint is one of the few carriers that doesn't have comprehensive 4G LTE voice coverage.

      5G: The fifth generation still has not arrived however AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are confident they will be able to begin delivering 5G service in 2019. The first 5G devices haven't even been cell phones, but actually hotspots that are providing incredibly fast Wi-Fi capabilities. While some major carriers are expecting to begin releasing 5G phones in 2019 there are some pretty big details that the industry is currently facing, like what the exact details of are 5G. The only thing we know for certain is that when true 5G is released it will provide extremely fast internet and high quality voice calls. Some experts even predict that 5G will replace other forms of wireless communication like Wi-Fi completely.

      All HiBoost cell phone signal boosters use a broadband technology that operates on all carriers and all generations of networks except 5G. This flexibility allows you to connect multiple users using multiple carriers seamlessly.

      Decibels and Gain

      For the purposes of comparing the performance of one cell phone signal booster over another it is important to understand the relationship between gain and power output. The two units of measure are the decibel and the decibel per milliwatt. Abbreviated dB and dBm respectively. Both are logarithmic progressions, and both are well suited to dealing with the large numbers encountered with radio frequency technology. Decibels are used in product specifications to describe how much a signal is boosted. Decibels are ratios that describe the magnitude of amplification of a signal. The higher the number the more the signal is boosted. A decibel does not describe power, it simply expresses a ratio as a log. Decibels are shorthand for describing a ratio such as 1:100, 1:1000, etc.

      Decibels per milliwatt or dBm express power output. The chart above illustrates the relationship between dBm’s and power in watts and milliwatts. Most of our products operate in the 250 to 500 mW range or quarter to half watt range respectively.

      Signal gain (dB) and downlink power (dBm) have an interesting relationship when choosing a cell phone signal booster for an application. If you have a weak outdoor, or donor signal, your booster’s performance will be limited by the signal booster’s gain figure. In other words, your signal booster will probably never reach its maximum downlink power, because the tower signal is simply too weak. In this scenario your cell phone signal booster’s performance is limited by the amount of signal gain it can produce, not by its maximum downlink power.

      If you are in a situation where the installation site already has a strong donor signal, then your cell phone signal booster will be limited by its downlink power. Gain is not an issue if you have a strong donor signal. With a strong donor signal you will reach the maximum downlink power long before the unit runs out of gain. In installations where the donor signal is strong, the best performing system will be one in which the downlink power figure is the greatest. 

      Getting to Know Your HiBoost Cell Phone Signal Booster

      HiBoost cell phone signal boosters all come with an LCD screen that shows real time signal updates and shows important information for troubleshooting. Here is a quick guide to understanding the LCD screen and LED lights on a cell phone signal booster.

      Band - Shows the working frequency bands where the booster is operating.

      UL (dB) and DL (dB)- Shows the real-time uplink and downlink gain. These values will change slightly as the automatic level controls (ALC) or Isolation Alarm Indication (ISO) makes changes to the gain to optimize coverage.

      Power dBm- Shows the real-time downlink power that the cell phone signal booster is delivering to the indoor antenna port. When the amplifier DL output power is lower than -10dBm, the value will display ---.

      The above chart should be referenced when reading through the following ISO, ALC and ISO.

      ISO- Isolation Alarm Indication. When a system oscillation occurs, a flashing “ISO flash” will appear at the top of the LCD screen. The flashing “ISO flash” message demonstrates that the unit is lowering the gain in one or more bands to keep the system from oscillating. Pressing the set button at the bottom of the display changes the display to the next screen showing the bands that are being adjusted. An oscillation condition is a type of feedback loop that sends a distorted uplink signal to the carrier’s tower. It can be induced by several factors, but the main reason this would occur would be due to the proximity of the indoor and outdoor antennas being too close to one another.

      ALC- ALC stands for Automatic Level Control. The downlink amplifier powers the indoor antenna. Under normal operating conditions the ALC will automatically adjust the gain in the downlink amplifier, signal chain in order to optimize the output of the downlink amplifier. When the LCD is flashing the message, “ALC flash”, the system is actively lowering the gain on one or more bands in order to keep the downlink amplifier from overloading. Pressing the set button at the bottom of the LCD display will bring you to a different display that shows you which bands are being adjusted.

      OFF- The “OFF flash” message will be displayed at the top of the LCD screen when the ISO and or the ALC control has failed to adjust the cell phone signal booster when an oscillation and or downlink overload has occurred. When Off flash is displayed the booster has turned off one or more bands. Pressing the set button at the bottom of the LCD screen display which bands have been turned off.

      Occasionally the signal environment where the cell phone signal booster is installed will prevent the ISO and or ALC controls from working normally. When this happens, it may be necessary to make manual gain adjustments to the booster. The three buttons at the bottom of the LCD display from right to left are: Decrease, Set and Increase. If at any time during the adjustment process you would like to start over, simultaneously press the decrease and increase buttons for three seconds. This will reset the booster back to the factory default settings. 

      How to Access the MGC Function

      Press the set key for 3 seconds. This changes the signal booster’s display to the “Gain Set” mode shown in Figure 10. Once in the gain set mode simply push the set button briefly to scroll thru the values to be changed. The third and fourth columns display the values that can be manually changed. The uplink and downlink values should be reduced in 3 dB increments until the cell phone signal booster performs normally. (No flashing messages on the LCD screen and no status warnings on the LED panel). 

      What the Unit Buttons Do

      Short press on the set button. A short press on the set button will take you to the next screen when the ISO or ALC message is flashing on the LCD screen. It will also allow you to scroll from value to value when the booster is in the “Gain Set” mode. Short press on the increment or decrement button. A short press on the INC or DEC button will change a value up or down by one step in the “Gain Set” mode. 

      How to Adjust Gain Using MGC

      When the LCD is in the fixed display mode, press the set button for three seconds. The “Gain Set” mode will be displayed on the LCD and one of the gain values will blink.

       1. Briefly pushing the set button will scroll through the values that can be adjusted. If you accidentally pass the value you wish to change, continue scrolling until that value comes back around.

       2. Once you have landed on the value you would like to adjust, pressing the increment or decrease button will move the dB setting one full value for each depression of the button.

       3. When you have finished making your adjustments, press the set button for three seconds so that the fixed display mode appears once again.

       When the LCD is in alarm display mode, press the set button and the LCD screen will display the alarm indication showing the affected band. Press the increase or decrease key and the LCD will turn on to help with troubleshooting. If none of the buttons are pushed within five minutes, the LCD screen will turn off. Pressing any key will return the display to the fixed mode.

      LED Indicators

      There are three LED indicators to the left of the LCD display. These LED’s work in conjunction with the LCD display to give feedback to the user about the status of their cell phone signal booster. The first LED is the alarm LED. It displays the following information.

      Alarm LED

       1. Solid Green- The booster’s electronics are working normally.

      2. Slow flashing green- The green LED will flash every three seconds when the booster is working at full power. Green and slow flashing green indicate normal operation.

      3. Quick flashing red- The booster has automatically shut off due to a signal processing error. Refer to the trouble shooting section.

      Power LED

       1. Solid Green- The unit is connected to a power source

       2. Dark- The unit is not connected to a power source

      ISO LED

      1. Green- The booster is operating normally. No feedback or oscillation detected.

      2. Slow flashing green- LED flashes every three seconds. Slight feedback or oscillation is occurring. A slow flashing green or a solid green indicates normal operation.

      3. Quick flashing green- Flash rate is once per second. The booster can’t resolve a feed-back / oscillation issue. Indoor and outdoor antennas are in too close a proximity.

      4. Quick flashing red- The booster will shut down automatically if it is unable to resolve a feed-back and or oscillation problem. See the trouble shooting guide in the manual.

      Installation of A Cell Phone signal Booster

      Installation of a cell phone signal booster is not an extremely complicated task, but it does require some planning before jumping directly into it.

      The first step in the installation process is to assemble all the components and place them in the locations where they will ultimately be installed. This allows the system to be powered up and tested. This is called a soft install. Since the performance of the booster system is reliant on the positioning of the indoor and outdoor antennas, a soft install will quickly reveal if the planned installation is workable. Once the optimal positioning of the antennas and booster is determined, then you can drill the necessary holes and install any additional accessories.

      It’s important to understand that cell phone boosters are precision pieces of telecommunications equipment. Installing an exterior booster antenna is more like installing a satellite dish instead of a radio or TV antenna. Like a satellite dish, the outdoor directional antenna for the signal booster must be positioned correctly both in elevation and azimuth (direction). Also keep in mind that the booster's antennas are both receiving and transmitting devices and as such need to be installed with care in order to work properly. Additionally, the low loss transmission and antenna cable used with our signal boosters must be handled with care. The cable jackets must never be penetrated with nails or staples and should never be squeezed or crushed during installation. Also, the minimum bend radius and maximum pulling tension for these cables must also be observed.

      Planning a Soft Install

      The first step of the soft install is to determine the best location for the outdoor antenna. The outdoor antenna is also referred to as the donor antenna. This is the antenna that both sends and receives signals to a nearby cell tower. We encourage customers to perform an online search to determine the locations of several towers in their area. The closest tower available may not be the best, especially if that tower receives very heavy traffic. Towers located near sporting venues or major highways may or may not be good choices. Emphasize the importance of a well-planned antenna installation with your customers. The booster’s LCD display and our Signal Supervisor App are purposefully engineered tools that will guide the installer to the best location for the outdoor antenna. Cellular signals are easily blocked by physical barriers, so it is important to keep in mind that the outdoor antenna needs to have a clear line of sight to the cell tower. It is often necessary to install a mast on the roof in order to prevent the peak of the roof or adjacent buildings from blocking the outdoor antenna.

       The next step in the soft install is to select a location for the indoor antenna. An indoor flat panel antenna is standard component in a HiBoost cell phone signal booster kits. The flat panel antenna is directional, so it is important to find a location that will give the best coverage to the interior of the building without causing feedback or oscillation with the outdoor antenna. Vertical separation of the two antennas is more important than horizontal separation. The best results are obtained when a vertical distance of twenty feet can be maintained between the outdoor and indoor antennas. Feedback and oscillation can also be controlled by not pointing the two antennas at one another. If the outdoor antenna is facing South, then it is a good idea to find a location in the building that allows the interior antenna to face North.

      Finally, the location of the booster must be chosen. Unlike the outdoor and indoor antennas, whose positions are critical, the booster is most likely going to be located an equal distance between the outdoor and indoor antennas. The booster location must also be evaluated for environmental factors and cable routing. The booster is designed to be installed in a conditioned space. A cell phone signal booster should not to be installed in a garage, attic or crawl space. Environmental extremes such has extreme heat, or cold or very high levels of humidity can cause the unit to fail prematurely or cause it to malfunction. Power to the booster is supplied by a standard household outlet at 120 volts AC, 60 Hertz. Avoid electrical circuits that are on timers, switches and dimmers, since these control devices will interrupt power to the booster. It is also recommended that the cell phone signal booster be plugged into a surge protector.

      Outdoor Antenna Installation

      The single most important step of any cell phone signal booster installation is the installation of the outdoor antenna. If this step is done improperly it will negatively impact every other aspect of the boosters performance. 

      As discussed earlier we suggest that the installer use an internet search to locate a few towers near them. If the planned installation location already has a strong outdoor signal the height of the cell phone signal booster’s outdoor antenna may not be as critical. If the outdoor signal is one or two bars, the height of the outdoor antenna will be more critical. Ideally in all installations the outdoor antenna needs to have a clear line of sight to the tower.

      The only definitive way to know if the outdoor antenna is placed correctly is to use the booster unit’s display to evaluate its performance. The display can be viewed directly by an assistant on the ground or by the installer using the Signal Supervisor App on their mobile device while working on the roof. The performance characteristics for each cell phone signal booster can be found in the operating instructions packaged with each unit or on our website. The downlink output power and uplink and downlink gain figures are the benchmarks used to judge the outdoor antenna performance. Numbers at or near the maximum for gain and a positive downlink output power are good indicators. The unit will operate at full power if required. In that case the gain numbers and downlink output power will be at their maximum values.

      It is a good practice to try several roof locations and to repeat your readings several times before deciding on the location of the outdoor antenna. The azimuth, height and elevation of the antenna are all critical. In terms of elevation the outdoor antenna in most cases will be pointed directly at the horizon. All other factors being equal increasing the height of the antenna usually results in increased system gain and therefore better coverage. The azimuth of the antenna is largely determined by the location of the nearest operating tower. Of all factors that affect the signal measurements, azimuth is the most critical when measuring from the Signal Supervisor app or directly for the cell phone signal booster’s display.

      For best indoor coverage it is critical to locate the outdoor antenna correctly. This is especially true if the booster is going to be operating at the fringe of a carrier network. A one bar donor signal will require the cell phone signal booster to work at full capacity to maintain adequate coverage inside of a building. In this kind of environment installation mistakes can seriously limit the coverage of the booster or even prevent it from working.

      Occasionally a tower signal will overload the signal booster. When this happens the ALC message will flash on the LCD screen. In many cases the booster will be able to adjust itself to allow the cell phone signal booster to function normally. If this problem persists it can be alleviated by slightly changing the azimuth on the antenna so that it is not directly pointed at the carrier’s tower.

      Installing Your Internal Antenna

      Installation of your indoor antenna is much simpler and can be finished with just a few steps.

      First, determine which portion of the building you need the strongest cell signal in. This should be the location you prioritize the installation of your antenna.

      Next consider what kind of antenna you are installing. If you are using a directional internal antenna such as a panel antenna it is important that you do not install them facing each other. This will cause the two antennas to interfere with one another and reduce the boosters effectiveness, sometimes entirely.

      The final consideration to make when installing your internal antenna is the amount of distance between your indoor and outdoor antenna. It is critical for receiving the best results from a cell phone signal booster system that you are able to get at least 20 feet of vertical distance between the two antennas. This reduces the amount of feedback in the system and allows your booster to work most efficiently.

      Choosing the Right HiBoost Cell Phone Signal Booster for You

      Each cellular service problem requires a unique solution. While we typically recommend getting a professional to look at your property to help create a custom solution for you we understand that many people prefer to do this themselves.

      If you are looking to boost your signal in a building such as a home or small office the most important factor for you to determine is the signal outside of the building. 

      To determine how strong a signal you are receiving outside of the building you are looking to cover you can do a few things. One simple way to determine your signal is to simply walk around the building looking at your cell phone and look at the bars. This is not the most accurate way to interpret this but if you are consistently receiving 4 to 5 bars you have strong enough signal to use a lower gain cell phone signal booster. To more precisely determine the signal you are receiving it is best to get on the roof of the building and determine the amount of bars you are receiving from there.

      If reception is poor you will need a higher gain system regardless of the amount of square footage you need covered.

      Consumer Cell Phone Signal Boosters

      When selecting a commercial or industrial strength signal booster it is often best to have a professional solutions engineer come to your site and provide a solution custom designed for you. HiBoost has a nationwide team of installers and integrators that provide turn-key solutions for property owners dealing with these kinds of issues. For more information on getting a free quote for this kind of service let us know here.

      Commercial Cell Phone Signal Boosters

      Industrial Cell Phone Signal Boosters

      Selecting the Best Signal Booster Accessories

      Another important part of designing your signal solution is understanding which accessories you need. We always recommend using a lightning surge protector for each of our cell phone signal booster systems to protect your new valuable equipment. But that is not the only choice you'll need to make when we talk about cell phone signal booster accessories.

      Selecting the Right Outdoor Antenna

      Your outdoor or "donor" antenna will be the first and most important of your antenna choices. The outdoor antenna used and how you install it can often be one of the most important decisions in successfully using a cell phone signal booster. There are two kinds of antennas, omni- or multidirectional antennas, and directional antennas. Both of these antennas can be used either outdoors or indoors.

      The omnidirectional antennas are excellent for easy setup, however, they sacrifice some power gained because of this. They work by pulling in a signal from all directions. These work best when you already have a strong, high quality signal around the building or area you are trying to boost.

      Directional antennas require a little more work to set up as they do have to be oriented in the direction that the signal is coming from. This increases the difficulty as some require more precision than others and you will also have to locate your carrier's nearest cell tower to ensure you are positioning the antenna properly.

      For most systems we recommend using a directional antenna for the best solution as you'll be almost guaranteed to be getting the highest amount of signal from them.

      Selecting the Right Indoor Antenna

      Indoor antennas come in two varieties typically, omnidirectional style dome antennas or directional panel antennas. Both of these are potential solutions depending on the layout of the space you need signal in.

      Dome antennas work best when you are trying to cover a wide area such as a spread out room, they are not effective at covering hallways or staircases. Also when installing a dome antenna you will need to be able to access the space above them. So either an office setting where you can easily get behind the ceiling tiles or if you are installing one inside a residence you need to be able to access either the attic or crawl space. Because dome antennas broadcast multi-directionally, similar to how a multidirectional donor antenna receives from all directions, you should place them directly in the middle of the space you are looking to provide the boosted signal.

      Panel antennas distribute signal in a conical shape similar to a flashlights beam from the forward face of the antenna. This is ideal for covering large rectangular rooms or hallways. They are also easier to install than dome antennas as you don't need to get into the ceiling.

      One final reminder to make sure you are putting at least 20 feet of vertical distance between indoor and outdoor antennas to prevent them from interfering with each other.

      Optimizing Your Cell Phone Signal Booster

      After you set up your cell phone signal booster you might not always be getting the most out of it right away. Sometimes you'll need to do a little bit of fine tuning to make sure your running at full efficiency. Here's a brief overview of some of the most common issues people have with their cell phone booster and how you can fix them in just a few minutes.

      Low Output Power

      Low output power is the most common issues that occurs after a consumer's cell phone signal booster installation. It occurs when your booster is attempting to boost the signal it is receiving but either it is unable to boost it enough or it is not receiving enough signal. 

      Fixing Low Output Power

      The best way to fix this is issue is to ensure that your outdoor antenna has been installed properly. It is crucial that if you are using a directional antenna you make sure that it is properly oriented at a cell phone tower and that it is not being obstructed by your roof, chimney, or nearby trees. Most users see the best success when their outdoor antenna is installed at the highest point of their roof or on a pole or mast that provides unobstructed line of sight of the nearest tower.

      If this does not fix your low output power issues you will need to consider upgrading to a more powerful cell phone signal booster system. Whether that is simply upgrading an omnidirectional antenna to a more powerful directional antenna or upgrading the signal booster itself depends on how close to optimal output power you are at. For reference our 4K Smart Link unit should be as close to 10 dBM as possible and the 10K and 15K Smart Link should be as close to 12 dBM. 


      This happens when signals from the indoor antenna and outdoor antenna interact with each other and subsequently interfere with each other. An example of oscillation you might be familiar with is when someone brings a microphone too close to an amplifier and it causes a loud high pitched sound.

      Fixing Oscillation

      HiBoost cell phone signal boosters come with an automatic function that attempts to reduce this when it occurs. However, the drawback is that this also reduces output power on the bands and frequencies that are suffering from the oscillation. This leads to smaller coverage areas and a lower amount of boost within that area.

      The simplest way to fix this is by moving the antennas farther apart. Since the issue is caused when their signals interact it can typically be solved by increasing the vertical (up and down) distance between the two antennas. Increasing horizontal distance can help as well, but increasing vertical distance should always be prioritized.

      If there is no way to increase the distance between the two antennas you can improvise and add metal behind both antennas. This will add some extra shielding and block the signal that is traveling backwards into the other antennas.

      Another common issue with oscillation is when users with two directional antennas accidentally install them facing each other. This should always be avoided. 

      Isolation or Overload

      Overload is an issue that occurs when your cell phone signal booster is receiving too much signal. This is referred to as an Isolation or ISO issue on HiBoost signal boosters for the reason that is typically an issue with the booster filtering or isolating the strong signals from each other.

      Fixing Isolation or Overload

      For those using a directional antenna it is relatively simple to fix these kinds of issues. Simply change the orientation of the antenna in very small increments until you receive improved signal. We recommend making quarter-inch turns and waiting 30 seconds to see if this has impacted the signal readings.

      For users in urban and suburban areas this is a very common issue to encounter. One solution is to use an omnidirectional antenna instead of a more powerful directional. This will limit the gain you are receiving from the tower that is overloading your system and allow your cell phone signal boosters software level off the offending band or frequency,

      The second solution for an urban user facing this is to add an attenuator to your booster system. What this does is act similar to a governor in a car, meaning it will limit the amount of signal your cell phone booster will receive from the outdoor antenna. This is not a highly recommended solution as it limits the signal gained on all bands. 

      HiBoost's Signal Supervisor App

      The Signal Supervisor app is the first complete remote monitoring and troubleshooting solution available.

      The powerful cloud based app helps users install their cell phone signal boosters giving them the ability to measure signal in decibels instead of bars and providing them with the tools to log optimal antenna locations. Customers can even share their phone signal booster information directly through the app to customer support for technicians to provide the most comprehensive technical support. 

      Installing and Registering With the Signal Supervisor App

      Download the “Signal Supervisor” app  on the App Store for iPhones or Google Play for Androids.

      Launch the app on your device. “Signal Supervisor” will ask you if you would like to receive notifications, please select an option. On the lower left-hand corner of the screen select "New Here? Sign Up!" 

       Select Choose server > Select HiBoost Server

       Select Email address > Enter a valid email address

       Select Send code > Do this last, skip to the next line

       Select Password > Enter a password

       Read and accept the terms of use at the bottom of the screen

      Select Send code > An activation code will be sent to your email address. Enter the code within one minute. If you fail to receive a code within one minute, repeat the procedure by selecting Send code again.

      Once you have completed entering the required information on the “Sign Up” screen the Sign-Up button will change from gray to red. Select Sign Up.

       After selecting Sign Up, the app will open to the home screen. You can now pair your device with your Smart Link enabled signal booster.

      At the bottom of the screen select Tools > Register Device> Via Bluetooth
      (Note that for a Bluetooth connection, you must be within 10 ft)

       Select your device on the Device Connect Screen.

      Selecting your device from the “Device Connect” screen will take you to the “Network Settings” screen.

      Select Wi-Fi at the top of the screen and then select your network from the list the list below.

      If you have an IOT enabled device you can continue registering via Bluetooth, or you can switch to Ethernet.

       Enter your Wi-Fi password when prompted and select Join.

      Selecting join will take you to the “Device Settings” screen. Once you have entered a “Device Name”, “Device Location” and “Device Region”, the Register button at the bottom of the screen will change from gray to red. Tap Register.

      When the device registration is complete the screen will display “Register success”.

       Selecting Done will take you to the “Tools” screen/tab.


      Below is a very brief summary of everything we went over in the guide.

      HiBoost cell phone signal boosters are capable of boosting signal on all generations and carriers. While most calls are made on 4G LTE as opposed to 2G or 3G unless you use Sprint, who still predominantly uses 3G for voice.

      The bars your phone displays are tricky. They represent a combination of signal strength and signal quality when they display. Each phone manufacturer also uses a different algorithm to display bars which means they are somewhat arbitrary.

      HiBoost cell phone signal boosters amplify the signal on all frequency bands. Despite this, there are a few important things to know about each band. Low-frequency waves are more capable of penetrating building materials, however higher frequency waves are able to carry more information.

      The three most important things to consider when selecting a cell phone signal booster are; square footage covered, gain, and downlink power. If the outdoor signal is weak focus on maximizing gain. If your outdoor signal is strong focus on maximizing downlink power output. Also, remember that HiBoost boosters square footage coverage are designed for optimal conditions. If you have thick walls or multiple indoor obstructions you might need to use a more powerful cell phone signal booster than your square footage would otherwise indicate.

      Our HiBoost cell phone signal boosters are designed to be as close to FCC and IC regulations as possible. Our commercial and residential cell phone signal boosters provide the maximum amount of gain possible without registering with the FCC and IC. Our industrial cell phone signal boosters are also designed for maximum gain, but they must be registered with the FCC or IC.


      Outdoor: If your outdoor signal is strong an omnidirectional antenna will be easier to install and be cheaper. If your signal is weak or low quality, you'll need to consider a directional antenna. While they are more difficult to install it will provide you the best signal.

      Indoor: When deciding on panel vs. dome indoor antennas the rule of thumb is to use panels in narrow areas that need directional support and to use dome in wide open spaces where you can also access the ceiling above them.


      The purpose of this guide was to help simplify and eliminate confusion. However, when talking about technology it is sometimes unavoidable that technical vocabulary has to be used. In an effort to further simplify this we have provided a short glossary of terms that have been used in the guide or just on our website to help answer any further questions.

      AGC- Automatic gain control. This can also be referred to as automatic volume control (AVC). The purpose of the AGC is to provide controlled signal amplitude, even with variances in the amplitude of the input signal. Basically, think of this as how your thermostat regulates the temperature within your home despite fluxes in temperature outside.

      ALC - Automatic level control. There's very little difference between this and AGC with the exception that this typically refers to audio, and automatically controls output power to a speaker.

      AWS- Advanced Wireless Services is a wireless telecommunications spectrum band used for voice, data, video, and messaging services. It's used in the US, Canada, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Peru Paraguay, Ecuador, and Uruguay. It uses microwave frequencies in the 1710-1755 MHz for uplink and 2110-2155 MHZ for downlink.

      Bluetooth- A wireless technology standard invented by Ericsson in 1994 that exchanges data over short distances from mobile and fixed devices, and can be used to build personal area networks.

      CDMA - Code division multiple access; a channel access method used by different radio communication technologies. As a form of multiple access, several transmitters can send information simultaneously over a single communication channel.

      dBm - Abbreviation for the power ratio in decibels (dB) of the measured power referenced to one milliwatt. Used in radio, microwave, and fiber-optical networks. It is a measure of absolute power capable of expressing very large and very small values in a short form.

      Directional antenna - Also known as a beam antenna. This antenna radiates or receives greater power in specific directions allowing for increased performance and reduced interference from unwanted sources. They perform better than omnidirectional antennas in situations where you need a certain direction. Common types of directional antennas include Yagi antennas and log-periodic antennas.
      Dome Antenna: An indoor antenna that transmits a signal over a wide area in all directions. Installation of a dome antenna requires access to the ceiling above it.

      Donor Antenna - Simply put, the outdoor antenna. The donor antenna is the outer antenna that communicates with your carrier's cell tower and brings cell phone signals into the amplifier. All HiBoost cell phone signal booster kits come with a donor antenna included.

      Downlink signal - The signal sent from your carrier's cell phone tower to your mobile device

      EDGE- Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution or Enhanced Data rates for Global Evolution. This is a digital mobile phone technology that allows improved data
      transmission rates. It is a backward-compatible extension of GSM. It is a pre-3G radio technology. It was used on GSM networks in 2003.

      External Antenna - An omnidirectional or directional antenna installed outside to pull in the radio signals from the cell phone tower. Omnidirectional antennas are included in our Travel 4G kits for automotive use, and directional antennas are included in all of our consumer booster kits.

      Gain - The amount of signal amplified by the cell phone signal booster. It is measured in decibels (dB) and is usually a positive number. It is measured on a logarithmic scale, meaning that 0 dB is no gain, 10 dB is 10 times the signal strength, and 20 dB is 100 times the signal and so on with each increment of 10 dB multiplying the signal gained by 10.

      GPRS- General Packet Radio Service - A packet oriented mobile data service on 2G and 3G cellular communication systems' global system for mobile communications.

      GSM - Global System for Mobile Communications. A standard introduced by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)

      HSPA+ - Evolved High-Speed Packet Access or HSPA+ is a technical standard for wireless, broadband telecommunication; it is the second phase of HSPA. It can achieve data rates of up to 42.2 Mbit/s. Advanced HSPA+ is a further advancement of this technology and can attain data rates of up to 84.4 and 168 Mbit/s. Uses antenna array technologies such as beamforming and MIMO.

      Internal Antenna - An antenna installed indoors to redistribute the amplified signal from the booster. Indoor antennas are included in HiBoost booster kits.

      ISO- Short for isolation. The amount of signal that travels from the input to the output of a switch represents the measure of isolation in decibels (dB). -65 dB is considered the best for isolation. When two antennas are physically close to each other, radio frequency isolation is decreased. The two antennas can "hear" each other. This is why we recommend in all of our manuals that you place the outdoor and indoor antennas far apart from each other to reduce this kind of interference. Using building structures such as walls will help increase isolation.

      LED - A light emitting diode. This is the kind of light source in our boosters for our alarm lights.

      LTE- Short for Long Term Evolution; this stands for the evolving technology standards of mobile service providers to keep data speeds improving across their networks.

      MGC- Manual gain control. Our boosters come with automatic gain control software to help balance the booster. It's rare a consumer will need to manually adjust the gain on a booster; these are more often used by engineers to dial in a more specific frequency. However, should you need to manually adjust the gain for a better result from the booster, this is what you adjust.

      MiFi- A brand name to describe a wireless router that acts as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. These can be connected to a cellular network and provide access to the internet for up to ten devices. Introduced into the U.S. by Novatel Wireless in 2009. An alternative to this is using your mobile phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot using "tethering," if your phone is capable of doing so.

      Omnidirectional antenna- A kind of antenna that radiates or picks up radio waves in all directions in one plane, commonly referred to as "doughnut-shaped." Commonly used for radio broadcasting, and in mobile devices that use radio such as cell phones, FM radios, GPS, and for base stations that connect with mobile radio stations, police dispatches, and communicating with aircraft. Omnidirectional antennas in our kits include the whip antenna in our Travel 4G kit.

      Panel antenna- A dipole placed ahead of a flat-panel reflector. Uses UHF (ultra high frequencies), often used for cellular base stations or wireless networking. These are included in our Home kit as the indoor antenna for redistribution of the amplified signal indoors.

      PCS- Personal communications service. PCS refers to any of several types of wireless voice and/or wireless data communications systems. It gives a user an all-in-one wireless phone, paging, messaging, and data service.

      RSSI- Received signal strength indicator. This is the measurement of the power present in a received radio signal.

      Cell Phone Signal Booster (a.k.a. Signal Repeater, Signal Amplifier, Signal Booster or Amplifier, or a Cellular Repeater) - A type of bi-directional amplifier used to improve cell phone reception and increase coverage, especially indoors, but outdoor systems are available.

      Signal Strength- Also referred to sometimes as field strength, this refers to the transmitter power output as received by an antenna at a distance from a transmitting antenna. For our boosters, this is expressed in decibels above a reference level of one milliwatt (dBm)

      Uplink Signal: The signal sent from the internal radio within your mobile device to your carrier's cell phone tower.

      USB- The abbreviation of Universal Serial Bus. This is an industry standard that defines cables and connectors for connection, communication, and power supply between computers and devices. This was created in the mid-1990s as a way to standardize peripheral components of computers such as digital cameras, network adapters, printers, keyboards, etc. USBs have replaced most previous interface technologies, such as serial and parallel ports, and is largely universal in application at this point.

      UMTS- An abbreviation for Universal Mobile Telecommunications System. It is a third generation mobile cellular system for networks based on the GSM standard. Developed and maintained by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project), UMTS is a component of the International Telecommunications Union IMT-2000 standard set and compares with the CDMA2000 standard set for networks based on the competing cdmaOne technology. It uses wideband code division multiple access (WCDMA, see definition below) for greater spectral efficiency and bandwidth to mobile network operators. This technology is also occasionally called FOMA (Freedom of Mobile Multimedia Access) or 3GSM. Most commonly used in Europe, Japan, and China.

      WCDMA- (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) Technology developed by GSM community to support 3G mobile devices. This supported voice, text, and MMS services, WCDMA also increased data speeds. This was the technology used by UMTS to improve service to mobile network operators

      Wi-Fi - Technology for wireless local area networking (LAN). Wi-Fi is a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance, and only products tested that have full interoperability are allowed to be labeled "Wi-Fi Certified."