Do you need to change cell boosters if you change cell carriers?

A long time ago, this article would have had a different answer. But, today, the answer is simple: any cell booster you buy today is going to work with any carrier. If you change cell carriers, the booster should work. There are some really minor exceptions. Honestly I’m just adding them because without them, this would be an exceptionally short article.

Exception #1: If your booster is incredibly old

There was a period of time from about 2010 to 2015 that some companies sold carrier-specific boosters. Partially, this was due to the cost of providing support for multiple carrier frequencies. But, these boosters didn’t sell well and were replaced by quad-band boosters. If you have an older booster, there’s a possibility that it might need to be replaced if you change carriers. Of course if you’ve gotten 11 years out of a cell booster… more power to ya. The world’s changed a lot since then and it’s probably time for a new one anyway.

Exception #2: If you bought something to specifically work with Sprint

Before being swallowed up by T-Mobile, Sprint used an unholy collection of weird cell frequencies. This meant that most cell boosters didn’t work with Sprint’s data frequencies. Some didn’t even work with Sprint’s voice frequencies. As a result, there were some boosters made to specifically work with Sprint. Again, they didn’t sell well and didn’t last last long in the marketplace. Chances are if you had Sprint in the early 2010s then you’ve probably had to replace your phone anyway as T-Mobile is actively moving customers away from the Sprint network.

Exception #3: If your carrier gave you the booster

I’m not talking about your cell carrier selling a booster to you. You can buy boosters from some cellular dealers. (We sell them and we’re AT&T dealers.) However some dealers offered microcells and specialty cell boosters when they knew their customers were in weak service areas. These were specialized and generally only worked with the carrier you got them from. If you’re still using something like this, you might want to try turning it off. It’s possible the cell carrier has improved their service since they gave that to you.

Do you need a new booster for 5G?

Cell boosters are incredibly reliable and hardly ever break down. I usually tell people that they will last 5-7 years. It’s not that the booster breaks, it’s generally that the technology has changed.

At the moment, in 2021, there are no cell boosters that will work with dedicated 5G frequencies. However, many carriers are putting 5G on the same frequencies that boosters have used for over a decade. They’re phasing out their old-school voice-only networks and using those frequencies for 5G voice and data.

There will be a time in the future that getting the most out of 5G may require a booster. However, the FCC still has yet to approve any 5G-only cell boosters. It will probably be years before that changes.

Get the cell booster you need from Solid Signal

Solid Signal offers all the major brands of cellular signal boosters. You’ll find the one you need whether you’re in a tiny space or a gigantic enterprise. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, call us at 877-312-4547 during East Coast business hours. Our techs will help you pick the booster you need!

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.