We want to help you improve your farm’s indoor and outdoor cell phone signal.
And don’t forget, we are also here to help you purchase the perfect tractor for your farm when the time comes.
Let’s get started discussing how to improve your indoor and outdoor cell phone signal.
Cell Signal Challenge
There are multiple reasons that can cause you to get fewer “signal” bars, more dropped calls, and far lower data rates.
The following tips and strategies are not exclusive. Often you will have a combination of these challenges in your location.
Heavy Cellular Traffic
Substantial cellular traffic is common in rush hour periods. This is when people are texting, making calls home, or downloading videos.
These signals are all getting space on the same tower, and if you are already connected to a network, the chances are that you will remain connected.
However, when the current cell tower hands-off to the next cell tower, you might lose your connection.
The farther you are from a cell tower, the weaker the signal.
When your cell phone is communicating with a cell tower --- the tower will tell it, via the downlink frequency, what frequency, and power setting to use.
If your cell phone can’t hear the cell tower's instructions, it will drop your call.
Similarly, if the cell tower can’t hear that your cell phone has confirmed its instructions, via the uplink frequency, it will drop your call.
Always keep your battery optimally charged.
Your cell phone needs to adjust its output power to meet the instructions made on it from the cell tower.
The greater the output power demand --- the more battery power required.
If your battery can’t meet the demand, then the call will be dropped.
Building materials like drywall, wood, concrete, metal, and low-e glass can reduce the signal strength. This makes it weaker inside a home or office.
New buildings are often designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health. This includes location and transportation, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.
Often these “green” strategies cause the building to be signal proof. This will have a negative effect on your cell signal.
Weather events, particularly electric storms, will negatively impact your cell phone signal.
Also --- weather events happening on the sun, such as a solar storm, will also impact your cell phone signal.
Even a cell phone booster, which we will discuss shortly, can do little to offset the effect of poor weather. Sometimes it simply depends on the signal sensitivity of the cell phone booster to be able to “see through” the electrical noise generated by weather events.
Cell phone signals are affected by your local terrain.
Trees, mountains, valleys, man-made obstacles, and buildings will all affect the strength of a cell phone signal.
A well-designed booster installation will minimize the effect of natural and manmade obstacles.
This must be done with a site survey, to fully assess the local situation, potential installation issues, as well as a “Path Profile Analysis.”
A Path Profile Analysis is a highly specialized and well-defined process for calculating signal loss along a proposed signal path, between the cell tower, and your location.
Then they design a solution that will minimize the effect of the obstacle(s).
Property Site Survey
NOTE: Path Profile Analysis and Site Surveys will not be offered to you if you buy the lower priced boosters.
Higher priced products will offer both a site survey and a path profile analysis.
This will tell you what will work for your situation.
Signal boosters work for a range of building types/sizes, small to large homes, offices, apartments, and commercial buildings.
Regardless of the type of booster, the specific components of a cell phone booster include a few components.
Outside Cellular Antenna
Often called a Donor antenna or Pickup antenna --- this antenna is installed outside your building, perhaps on a wall, roof, post, or other high spot.
It points in the direction of the strongest cell phone signal and passes that signal down a cable into the signal booster inside the building.
The signal booster receives the signal from the Donor antenna and amplifies the signal before sending the amplified signal to the indoor antenna(s).
These are referred to as Area Fill antennas.
They are installed inside the building and are strategically placed to optimize coverage throughout the building.
Typically the average indoor installation will require multiple indoor antennas --- and depending on the type of booster you have bought, will likely require multiple boosters.
The cable type is just as important as the booster.
Poor quality cables can dramatically reduce the strength of a good signal. Also, the length of the cable will dramatically reduce the strength of the signal.
To reduce the impact of long cable runs, it may be prudent, and more aesthetically pleasing, to use fiber optic cable.
Professional installers will require specialized tools, not normally available in the standard home tool kit.
In general, the basics of the installation are simple. Mount the external antenna (donor) onto a convenient external wall, post, or roof. Point the antenna at the tower. Run a cable from the external antenna to the booster. Run a cable to a strategically placed internal antenna(s). Plug in the power. Switch it on.
Signal Path Profile Analysis
Can it be that simple? Sometimes yes --- but often no.
If you have a choice of multiple towers to choose from, then which do you choose?
If your booster is narrowband and cell phone signal provider-specific (it will only work with the signal from a defined cell phone signal provider’s network) then you need to know the exact location of that provider’s cell phone tower.
If you are using a broadband booster. One that accepts a signal from any provider in the same frequency band. Then you will need to point to the tower with the strongest signal. And due to a variety of reasons, may not necessarily be the closest tower.
In this instance, you will need specialized test equipment to locate the best signal, or you will need to have a “Path Profile Analysis” done. This identifies the best signal for you.
If you leave it all to chance, then you could be wasting your time and money, and only further increase your frustration levels.
Wide Area Coverage
Installing signal boosters in larger buildings requires more careful consideration of the environment and outdoor signal levels.
You can save a significant amount on the total system cost, by using specialized installation methods that will daisy-chain antennas.
The process for designing wide area coverage is called a Distributed Antenna System (DAS).
Lower cost indoor boosters will provide a certain level of wide-area coverage but be mindful of the “marketing hype” when looking at the best solution for your requirement. Many claim to have “the most powerful signal booster on the market” and be able to boost your signal by 50 times. What they are not telling you is that the most powerful booster is a “system” rating which includes the booster and associated antennas.
If you don’t buy the strongest gain of antenna, which obviously comes at a price, then you won’t get “the most powerful booster on the market.”
The small print often gives away this secret. Somewhere in your information, the manufacturer will state that this is only true if the input signal is at least 3 bars or more, and the area to be covered is less than “x sq ft.”
Indoor vs. Outdoor
Much of what we have discussed, focused on indoor signal boosters.
Weather rated outdoor signal boosters do exist and can provide wider area coverage than the low-cost indoor boosters.
Outdoor rated boosters will also provide in-building coverage while providing coverage to the outside area.
Some outdoor boosters are weather rated down to -40C (-40F) and as high as +40C (100F) as well as being water and dustproof. Check with the manufacturer to see the specifications for their products.
Outdoor boosters are great for farms, acreages of all sizes, and general low population rural communities.
With an outdoor-rated booster, you could provide cell phone coverage to your house as well as the farm land and buildings.
If you live in a small rural community, an outdoor booster will bring a signal into your community.
As we discussed --- for all wide-area coverage requirements, the safest option is to carry out a site survey and path profile analysis before you commit to buying a booster.
This will ensure that you will fully understand the strength of signal you will get, the area the signal will cover, and any other requirements that may be required, such as a tower on which to mount the donor antenna and area fill antennas.
Other factors such as building size and building material used may also affect the total installation requirements but will be discovered as part of the site survey.
Outdoor installations will use appropriate weather-rated cabling, connectors, and antennas.
Indoor rated cable connectors, antennas, and boosters will not survive any exposure to water or dust, so do not try to use these boosters unless you are 100% guaranteed, in writing by the manufacturer, that they will work outside.
Outdoor boosters tend to be more powerful than the lower cost indoor use only boosters, as they are generally used to provide coverage to much larger areas, such as a community or acreage.
Consequently, outdoor boosters can easily be used to provide coverage throughout a building and without having to worry about climate control.
Be sure that you fully understand exactly what you need your booster installation to provide, and consider any potential expansion needs ahead of time.
For complex installations there are many important technical considerations beyond just screwing a booster to a wall and hanging a bunch of antennas in a haphazard way.
The cheapest option is rarely the best solution for complex coverage requirements. You will not get the technical support and pre-sales support that demonstrates to you exactly how your booster system will work and the coverage it will provide once it is installed.
Indoor boosters will not work outside or as effectively as a more powerful outdoor rated booster.
If you need any further help or have any questions about rural lifestyling, tractors, or anything else, please contact your dealer, local mechanic, or call us at 602-734-9944. Please ask about our current new and used tractor supply.
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