Mess around with your cell booster

Here’s one that comes from the front lines. Worried that his cell booster wasn’t doing the job, one of our customers connected a satellite amplifier to the line between the amplifier and indoor antenna. After all, it seems like it should have worked.

After all, the right satellite amplifier will boost signals from 50-3000MHz, which certainly covers all the cellular frequencies. Both use F connectors so there isn’t a whole lot of issue connecting everything up. Except one thing that ends up being a problem…

It doesn’t work.

I actually tried exactly what the customer described, using parts I had lying around. I used a SureCall Flare Cell booster that worked just fine and a Sonora LA141RX amplifier. The results:

The first time I tried it, I got nothing. No boost, no function, nothing. I was using the amplifier in “line-powered” mode and I guess there wasn’t enough current to light it up.

Then, I tried plugging in the amplifier with its supplied power supply. This time I got the dreaded “red light” on the booster. Nothing was going to work while that light was on.

I figured the problem was that I really didn’t need an amplifier so just to simulate lower signal levels, I put an attenuator in between the outdoor antenna and the indoor antenna. This time I got a lot of flashing yellow, indicating that the booster was reducing power levels. I could make calls, but I really didn’t see any improvement between having this setup and having no booster at all.

I can say with some confidence that this really isn’t going to work and it’s a waste of time to try.

But then again, it’s not supposed to.

Federal regulations say you can’t have external amplifiers on cell boosters. All the amplification has to come from the booster itself. While this does limit the amount of cable you can use, it makes the whole system more stable overall. There’s only one device on the market with a secondary amplifier: the WilsonPRO 1050. Its specially designed amplifier works together with the primary amp and can’t be used with any other product.

Instead of using a secondary amplifier, the best thing to do is get the right booster. If you’re looking for a cellular signal booster to cover a large area, you can get free advice from the folks at Solid Signal. Just give them a call at 888-233-7563.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.