How to Improve Your Cellular Router Signal
There are many different ways to enjoy internet service. If cable, broadband or satellite are not viable options, a cellular router might do the trick. A cellular router captures signals from your cellular provider and allows you to use this service to connect to the internet, stream movies, and more.
Cellular routers can be an option for your primary internet service at home, or even a backup if your primary source of internet has an outage. They are also great for those on the go as all you need is a cellular signal to operate. When you travel or are on a job site, you can also avoid public Wi-Fi systems, which can sometimes be a security risk. They are also very useful for people who live in very rural areas, where long cable runs are impractical.
Cellular Routers come in two types – integrated and modular configurations. Integrated routers have the modem built into the unit. Modular routers have USB ports available to add a modem or other add-ons separately. The modem is the part that actually communicates with the cell tower. The two most common connector types for cellular modems are SMA and TS9 connectors.
How fast your speed is can depend on several factors, including how close you are to the cellular tower and how strong of a signal you are able to capture. With weak cell signal, you get weak internet. If your home, office, or area where you plan to use your router has weak cellular signal, you won't be getting much out of it.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to boost the available signal.
1. Get a Cell Signal Booster
Since your modem requires cell signal, the best solution is to boost the signal that's already there, giving you better signal for your modem and all your other cellular devices.
A cell signal booster takes existing cellular signal and enhances it. Adding an antenna to the outside of the structure or vehicle in the best place to capture a strong signal, with the booster installed between the antenna and the cellular router, will allow the signal to be increased in power numerous times over.
Boosters for cellular routers are small, fit easily in tight spaces and require a connected power source. Signal boosters can also be used on the go as there are systems designed for your vehicle as well.
There are essentially two types of booster to consider: an M2M/IoT signal booster, which connects directly to your cellular modem, and a home or vehicle signal booster, which will enhance the signal in a large indoor area. In general, we recommend an M2M booster if all you're interested in is improved signal for your router, or if you tend to use it remotely. Otherwise, a home or vehicle signal booster is more versatile and will give you more benefits than just faster internet. Just make sure to place your cellular router near your signal booster's indoor antenna.
2. Plug in a Cellular Antenna
As mentioned, some routers have SMA or TS9 (depending on the router) ports that, with a converter, allow you to attach add-ons. While the router has an internal antenna, plugging in a more powerful external antenna may give the extra boost your system needs. Adapters are also available if the antenna chosen does not have a USB connection. This is a very easy option – just plug it in and you may instantly have a better cellular router signal. This is a cheaper method than a cell signal booster, but probably won't be enough if your outside signal is very weak.
3. Use an Extension Cable
An extension cable plugged into the SMA or TS9 port (a converter might be needed) allows you to put your cellular router close to a window or outside wall, while an USB Adapter is placed right outside where the signal is stronger. This bypasses building materials and is a very low-cost option to consider.
4. Find Where Your Inside Signal is Strongest
One of the easiest ways to potentially boost your signal is to move your cellular router to the best location in your house. In order to do this, you need to know exactly which direction your cellular signal originates from.
Walking around your house and noticing where you have the most bars helps, but installing an App on your phone called OpenSignal (for iPhones) or Network Cell Info Lite (for Android) will provide more precise information on your signal strength.
If you don’t want to install the free App, your smart phone has a field test mode as well. Signal strength as well as direction will determine whether just moving your router will help, or you need to add more technology to boost the signal.
From these results, you can move your router or your home office to the side of your house that has more signal.
5. Trim Your Trees
Ok, ok. Hear us out. We know this sounds silly at first.
But cellular signal works best when you are in line-of-site of a tower. Many things can cause interference, such as buildings, hills, trees and shrubs. While it seems small, trimming some branches on your property that may be in the way of the direct signal can make a difference.
Alternately, if your home office is in the basement and a row of shrubs is outside that wall, moving your workspace to a higher floor might be an easy option.
6. Get a New Router or Antenna
Technology changes all the time. If your cellular signal is strong on your phone, but your cellular router signal is weaker, or your cell router is not working, perhaps you need to upgrade to a more robust device.
Check with your cellular provider to see if they have recommendations for a better unit. Some routers are designed for a particular carrier’s network. Same with the Antenna, if the one you chose isn’t working or has been damaged by wear and tear or weather, look into a replacement or upgrade.
7. Try Off-Peak Hours
In today’s world, many people telecommute or homeschool and are online from 9-5. As a result, the network can get crowded as there is only so much bandwidth to go around. This is really only true if you live in an urban area.
Log into your network at 6 or 10pm and see how strong the signal is. This will not only give you an idea of how much signal you can actually get, it will save you time and effort trying some of the pricier options if a crowded network is the main problem.
8. Change Network Providers
Not all providers have the same coverage area. If you have Verizon and the signal is weak and your neighbor has T-Mobile and his internet is very fast, you might need to switch. Find out how much it costs to switch, and the equipment costs involved in the change. It might be worth the effort before investing in antennas, boosters or tree work - but then again, it could also be a big coin flip.
How Can You Help Me Get Better Internet with My Cellular Router?
We’ve outlined 8 options here that all have the potential to give you a stronger signal from your cellular router. One or more might alleviate your frustrations. Try the lower cost, easier alternatives first and move on to some more robust options. Soon, you will have a stronger cell router signal.
If you decide to try a signal booster or antenna configuration, we can help you pick the right one for your needs.
Skip the dropped calls, slow download speeds, and spotty coverage for the smooth, uninterrupted bliss of your very own boosted signal, courtesy of Wilson Amplifiers:
- Free consultation (ask us anything) with our US-based customer support (email@example.com) or call us at 1-800-568-2723.
- Free shipping.
- Better signal or your money back. Up to 90-day money back guarantee
- We want everyone to be satisfied, so we provide lifetime technical support and a 2-year warranty for all products.
Ask us anything and we'll be glad to help.
Money Back Guarantee