How Do Cell Signal Boosters Work In Canada? (10 FAQs Answered)

Updated: Jun 16

Quick Summary of Do Cell Signal Boosters Really Work In Canada? (Yes, And Here’s How)

1. How Do They Work?

2. Are They Legal?

3. Do They Work On My Network Carrier?

4. What Is A Single-Carrier Amplifier?

5. Do They Need Internet To Work?

6. Do They Work Outside?

7. Can I Use Them In The Mountains?

8. Can My Neighbor Leech Off My Boosted Signal?

9. Are They 5G Compatible?

10. Are They Waterproof?

Tired of poor cell phone reception? You’re not alone. Even though we live in a time where mobile technology is thriving, it still has a ways to go. Great signal in as many places as possible is every Canadian carrier’s goal. That is - when it comes down to it - the original purpose of cell phone technology; the ability to communicate with anyone no matter where you are. But as you and I both know, quality cell signal is not available everywhere. And no one enjoys losing service and dropping calls.


Fortunately for all of us, cell phone signal boosters exist.


They’ve been around for a number of years. But in recent years, the technology has come far. They work incredibly well. And more people in Canada are purchasing them than ever before. But how do they work? How is it possible for these devices to boost cell signal as they do? Some people wonder if they’re legal and if their carrier would approve of their use. Do you need WiFi in order for them to work? Can you take it camping?


All these questions and more will be answered here.


1. How Do They Work?


We’ll explain how cell phone signal boosters work in simple terms. Basically, they operate in three stages: locate a signal, enhance it, and rebroadcast it. Each one of these actions is performed by a particular component of the device. Let’s start with the first step.


Step 1: The Outside Antenna Locates A Signal

One of the main things to remember about how cell signal boosters work is this: they can’t create a signal out of thin air. They boost existing signals. This means that there must be a signal (however faint) outside your home for the device to function properly. The outside antenna locates and captures the appropriate existing signal. This antenna is one of the main components of a cell signal booster and is placed on the roof or other exterior location. There are two types of outside antennas: omni-directional and uni-directional.


Omni-directional antennas can scan at a 360º angle for available signals and don’t need to be pointed in a particular direction. Uni-directional antennas are shaped like a triangle and can scan for signals at a 45º angle. Uni’s need to be deliberately positioned, pointing in the general direction of the appropriate cell tower. Neither antenna type is better than the other one. Most uni-directional antennas can actually reach farther than omni’s. The type of antenna appropriate for your property is circumstantial.


How do you know which type of antenna you need? If only one carrier exists in the home and your signal is poor, a uni-directional antenna is likely in order for you. But if your outside signal is adequate and there are multiple carriers in your home, an omni-directional antenna is probably best.


Step 2: The Amplifier Boosts The Signal


After the outside antenna does its job of locating a signal, the amplifier now comes into play. This is where the actual boosting takes place. The amplifier is either a rectangular or square-shaped component that is placed somewhere inside your house. Most people put it in a closet or attach it to a wall. And FYI, cellular repeater is an alternate name for the amplifier.


Amplifiers come in many different strength levels. Some models have the ability to cover more square feet than others. From 500 to 7,000 sq ft. Regardless of what kind you get, all models have the same method of measuring their strength. And that’s by decibel output (or dB). Decibels are on the radio wave spectrum. Did you know that cellular frequencies are radio waves?


Amplifiers In The Home (Understanding Decibels)


When we talk about cell phone signals, people refer to them in terms of how many “bars” you have. Full bars, for example, is -50 dB. On the other end of the spectrum, no bars is -120 dB. Now that you know these two numbers, it’ll help you make sense of what cell signal boosters can do. A regular, middle-grade booster should boost your existing signal by around +60 dB. So for example, if the signal in your home is at -110 dB (1 bar), a signal booster will bring it to -50 dB (full bars).


Some signal booster kits on the market today come with amplifiers capable of a +70 dB increase. And as technology moves forward, we’ll see boosters capable of even more.


Amplifiers In The Car


Some signal boosters are designed for automobile use. These models don’t typically have the strength of home boosters, but they still work wonderfully. Car cell signal boosters, depending on the model, boost signals anywhere between +25 dB and +50 dB.


Things That Affect How Well Your Signal Booster Works

The materials your home is made from can act as interference to your signal booster. Steel walls, for example, can make it difficult for outside cell signals to penetrate. Large objects like trees, nearby landscapes like big hills or mountains and large neighboring buildings can all affect how well your signal booster works. If the cell tower is unusually far away from your property, that can be a hurdle as well.


Just because you have some of these things doesn’t mean your booster isn’t going to work. It just means you need to be strategic about it. Call us and we’ll give you advice based on how you describe your home. You can even send us photos of potential signal blockers directly outside or near your house. We’ll help you assess your dB reading, potential interference, and recommend the right booster kit for you.


Step 3: The Inside Antenna Broadcasts The Boosted Signal


Lastly, after the signal has been amplified, the inside antenna broadcasts it throughout your home. Inside antennas come in two varieties: panel antenna or dome antenna. Each one rebroadcasts the signal in a different way. With a panel antenna, the signal is stronger the closer you are to it. With a dome antenna, the signal is equally distributed throughout the area.


Panel antennas are usually wall-mounted and dome antennas are usually ceiling mounted. People who want the signal to be strongest in a specific room often use a panel antenna. But if your goal is to have the signal as evenly distributed as possible throughout the home, a dome antenna is the way to go.

That being said, our experience and research at SureCall Canada have led to a firm conclusion: in almost every circumstance, a dome antenna is the best choice. There are signal booster companies out there that lean heavily toward panel or dome depending on the situation. But because we view dome antennas as much more effective, we include in all our booster kits.


That’s How Signal Booster Work


Knowing these three steps of signal booster functionality will ensure that you choose the right model. Just think: no more dropped calls, poor call quality, texts that lag, slow internet, or poor reception. These are things that cell phone signal boosters eliminate from your life. Also, remember that SureCall Canada devices have no contracts or monthly fees and come with a 3-year warranty. And we’re here for you in the long run. 5 years down the road, if you suddenly have a question about your booster, reach out. We’d love to talk to you.


If you know you need one, make sure to call us first and speak with one of our booster system design experts. Sometimes, people in certain locations need something stronger than a standard-strength booster kit. We’d hate for you to set up your whole system only to learn that it isn’t strong enough. By talking to us first, we can make sure you get the right model.


One More Thing About How Cell Phone Signal Boosters Work

We’ve already mentioned this, but we need to bring it up again just to make sure it’s clear:


Signal boosters DO NOT create their own signal.


Make sure you test the strength of the signals directly outside your home before buying a booster kit. If there is no signal at all, a signal booster won’t do anything for you. There has to be at least a trace of a signal outside your home in order for the booster to work. Also, remember that cell phone signal boosters have nothing do with broadband or fiberoptic WiFi. Boosters enhance cell phone signal, not the WiFi in your home.


Now, here are answers to more of the most common booster-related questions.


2. Are They Legal?


This is a very common question. The answer is yes. They’re perfectly legal. Perhaps this question is asked so much because of the fact that network carriers don’t manufacture or sell signal boosters. But rest assured, they’re perfectly fine. Many carriers encourage the use of signal boosters for their customers who live in areas of poor reception. It only enhances their experience as a mobile phone user.


3. Do They Work On My Network Carrier?

Yes, they do. All SureCall Canada signal boosters are compatible with Bell, Telus, Rogers, Sasktel, Wind, Vidéotron, Eastlink, Virgin, Koodo, Public, Fido, Chatr, Cityfone, Tbaytel, Xplore & Ice. It also doesn’t matter what kind of phone you have. Google Pixel, Samsung, iPhones, whatever. The type of phone you have is irrelevant to a cell phone signal booster. Even if you have different phone manufacturers with different OS systems under the same roof, it still doesn’t matter as far as your booster is concerned.


4. What Is A Single-Carrier Amplifier?


Back in the days of the first signal boosters, they only worked with individual networks. If you lived in the U.S. and you had Verizon, for example, you had to buy a Verizon-specific signal booster. These were called single-carrier amplifiers. Also, compared to newer models, these old ones took a lot more time to install. Fortunately, improvements in technology and design have left those models behind. Boosters today work with all major carriers.


5. Do They Need Internet To Work?


Nope, they don’t. Cell phone signal boosters operate independently from your home internet.

6. Do They Work Outside?


Not really. In most cases, they don’t work outside at all. Even boosters designed for cars and RVs aren’t designed for outdoor use.


7. Do They Work While Hiking?


No. Don’t bother taking a signal booster hiking or camping because it won’t function properly. In order for them to work, the three main components that we talked about above - the outside antenna, the amplifier, and the inside antenna - must be installed in the proper way. And in order for that to happen, they need to be installed in a structure, such as a home or building.


8. Can My Neighbor Leech Off My Booster?


No. The way they are designed prevents this. Only within the confined space where the booster was installed can the benefits of the device be utilized. You’ll have to people into your home for them to utilize it.


9. Are They 5G Compatible?


Current boosters are compatible with 5G frequencies broadcasted on the existing 4G/LTE bands. Future 5G bands are not currently supported, but your booster will still pick up 4G/LTE even when 5G is fully implemented.


10. Are They Waterproof?


No. The outdoor antenna is designed to withstand rain, but the indoor antenna and amplifier components of a booster kit are definitely not waterproof.


How Do Cell Signal Boosters Work In Canada? (10 FAQs Answered) - Conclusion


Have a look at all the best signal boosters in Canada:


Home boosters

Vehicle boosters

Office Boosters


Have more questions? Reach out to us!