Originally Posted by sartor
I've seen a lot of comments suggesting that it "isn't worth it" trying to "boost" the cellular signal for the phone itself, but it's hard to tell if there's a consensus on that. Trying to decide if I could benefit from some sort of cellular booster, on top of tethering my Visible phone to my WifiRanger "core" router.
The drawback to "boosting" your cellular signal through an amplifier is that doing so defeats the potential benefits of the MIMO antennas that are built into almost all modern phones and hotspots. Although MIMO is a complicated topic, it is an important part of the way cellular networks work these days and it can significantly improve the speed of your connection.
What confuses lots of people is that MIMO doesn't increase the signal strength that shows on your phone's display. But it can still improve the speed, since the cellular network is entirely digital and having a stronger signal isn't always so important as long as it's "strong enough."
Since there's no way to tell if, at any particular location, your connection is being improved by MIMO or not, the best thing to do is to test your download speed with and without your "booster" at every new location
. You will discover that there are locations where you are better off without the booster because the MIMO antennas are doing their job and, occasionally, you will find location where the booster is essential to getting a signal at all. And, a lot of the time, I predict, you will find lots of places where the booster has no effect at all.
Boosters (amplifiers) can be a big help if the signal is really weak but cell phones are designed to work well over a signal strength range of roughly 100,000. Within that range, a signal that is a "bit" stronger isn't going to improve your reception significantly. When you really need your booster, you'll know it!
Joel (AKA docj)