When you live in an area with a weaker cellular signal, it’s natural to want to try and enhance it. Weak signals can result in slow data access, additional time spent trying to send or receive text messages, and unstable phone calls that break up and even drop out entirely.
To strengthen cellular signals, one of the most common solutions is installing a mobile booster. However, installing a booster incorrectly or improper antenna placement may lead to other issues that wind up causing more problems than solutions. One of the most common concerns with antenna placement is creating a feedback loop. If you want to learn how to avoid signal oscillation with your booster, SureCall Boosters is here to help explain the process and the problem and guide you toward a solution.
What Is Oscillation?
Before you can understand the importance of avoiding oscillation, you should understand what it is and how it negatively affects your signal. Have you ever held a microphone too close to a speaker and experienced that loud, high-pitched shrieking sound? That noise is an example of oscillation at work. Essentially the microphone sends sound to the speaker, which the microphone picks up again and makes it even louder, creating a feedback loop that results in the frustrating sound.
While you may not experience the grating noise as a sign that things are amiss when you use a cell signal booster, the general principles of booster oscillation are the same. A cellular booster typically has an external antenna, an amplifier, and an internal antenna. The external antenna latches onto a weaker cellular signal and sends it to the amplifier, which strengthens it, and sends it to the internal antenna, which broadcasts the stronger signal so that people in the area can use it.
Much like the microphone and the speaker, there are times when the external antenna may pick up the signal the internal antenna puts out, which gets amplified and emitted over and over, creating a feedback loop.
How Oscillation Affects Your Signal
You may not experience the loud sound as an unmistakable sign that your booster is in a feedback loop, but the negative effects are still there. An unfortunate side-effect is that many homeowners with cellular boosters may not even realize the loop is happening and remain unclear as to why their booster is not performing as it should.
When a booster focuses more on picking up the oscillating signal rather than amplifying anything that may help, it typically results in a lower-quality signal for everyone in the area, regardless of carrier or cell phone strength. The "noise" is an inaudible effect that causes interference with phones in the area and often makes potential signal connections worse rather than better.
To safeguard against this overwhelmingly negative feedback loop, many mobile boosters come with a failsafe in the event of oscillation where the booster significantly reduces the strength of the external antenna, resulting in your booster being less powerful than it should be. In the worst-case scenario, your booster may elect to shut down entirely to prevent the feedback loop, and you may not even notice. If you ever notice that your cellular signal is weak even when you have a booster installed, we recommend checking for signs of oscillation to see if your booster is working at peak capacity.
How To Limit or Remove Oscillation
When trying to figure out how to avoid signal oscillation with your booster, understanding the causes of the feedback loop makes it a more straightforward process. Since oscillation occurs when an external antenna picks up emitted signals from the internal antenna, the most common solution is creating more distance between the two.
When separating your two antennae, vertical separation is typically more effective than horizontal. While 20 feet of vertical distance may suffice, you may need up to 50 feet of horizontal space between the antennae. Thankfully, combining the two can limit the horizontal space since you are unlikely to have both antennae on the same vertical plane.
Traditionally when installing antennae, you want to put the external antenna where it can best connect to signals from incoming cell towers. Likewise, you want to place the internal antenna in a room where the signal is the weakest and needs the largest boost. However, if that combination results in the two antennae being too close to one another, we recommend experimenting with different distances and seeing if that helps improve overall strength.
What if More Distance Isn’t an Option?
There may be situations where the most common solution of creating more distance between your internal and external antennae isn’t feasible. If you don’t have the space in your residential area or you’re installing a signal booster in your vehicle, physical space may not be available.
Thankfully, there are a couple of helpful solutions to try and reduce oscillation without needing additional room. Vehicular boosters operate on the assumption that the car’s roof acts as insulation to keep the two signals away from each other. Similarly, using insulation in your home or residential area can help limit the chances of a feedback loop. Something as small as a thin metal baking sheet or a few layers of foil may provide enough interference to reduce feedback loops and restore functionality to your booster.
Another solution is to experiment with different models of antennae. Many boosters have two types of antennae: directional or omnidirectional. A directional antenna aims the signal in one way, while an omnidirectional antenna sends out a signal in a 360-degree area. Omni-directional antennae are often a great choice and work well with multiple carriers. However, if you're experiencing oscillation, it may be a good idea to get an antenna that only goes one way and ensure that your two antennae don't face one another.
To learn more about mobile boosters, SureCall Boosters is here for you. We have several helpful articles like this to ensure you get the most power and capabilities from your cellular devices. We have an extensive range of residential, commercial, and vehicular boosters to help ensure you stay connected no matter where you are. For any additional assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us anytime via email at Sales@SureCallBoosters.ca.