It can be very frustrating to live in an area with poor cell reception, where dropped calls, internet connection issues and slow data upload and download times can lead to a lot of frustration and wasted time. We had this problem at my home for many years until a new cellphone tower was recently built nearby, and it has been a huge relief to now have good service; but I do spend quite a lot of time in an area in the Sierra Nevada mountains that still has these issues. I was happy to have the opportunity to test out the WeBoost DT4G Cellular Signal Booster to see if it could help.
WeBoost (formally Wilson Electronics) are a company who specialize in products that boost your cellular reception. They have a wide range of cellphone signal boosters available, including options for the car, home and office. The DT4G™ is their newest home and office cell booster and works to boost 4G, 3G, and 2G data downloads. It works for subscribers of all US cellphone network providers except Clearwire. I tested it with AT&T.
The WeBoost DT4G Cellular Signal Booster is a multi-part system – it has an external antenna, an internal antenna, and a cellphone booster all connected by coaxial cable (similar to one you would use for cable TV). The kit includes everything you need for DIY installation, but this isn’t a 5 minute job, it does take a while to work out the best place for installation and to securely install the outside antenna.
Before starting I would recommend reading the instructions carefully and watching the installation video on the WeBoost website. The system basically acts like a megaphone amplifying your incoming signal, so to get the best results you need to position the outside antenna where it gets the best signal. If you are unsure where the cellphone towers and antenna are in your area I’d recommend going to antennasearch.com to see the locations and help you find the best spot. Once you know roughly what direction the nearest cellphone tower(s) are in, you can put your phone in field test mode to confirm. For an iPhone if you dial 3001#12345#* the phone will then enter field test mode. Simply put it displays your signal strength numerically instead of in bars. The number will be negative and the closer to zero it is the stronger the signal. At the home where I was testing the DT4G™ the un-boosted signal is typically 1 bar and -100 to -110 which is really, really bad! Walking around the outside of the house and testing the signal in different locations I found that location where signal appeared strongest was southwest side of the house, which was consistent with the direction of the nearest antenna I had found in my online search.
The outside antenna can be mounted in 3 ways – 1) on the roof 2) high up on a sidewall of the house or 3) stuck to the inside of a window. The installation kit includes mounting brackets for all 3 options, 1 is best; 3 the least effective option, but simplest installation. I tested both 1 and 3. For all 3 options the same general rules apply: point it in the direction of the strongest signal, place it as high as possible, separate the internal antenna from it by at least 20 feet (horizontal and or vertical separation), point the internal antenna away from both the external antenna and the booster.
Window Mounted External Antenna
With an un-boosted signal at this location in the living room I have just enough cellphone signal to get email, I can usually connect to the web in parts of the living room but the signal is weak enough that I can’t watch videos or use my iPhone as a mobile hotspot. In the bedroom the situation is even worse – it often won’t connect at all in there. I first set up the external antenna on the inside of a window facing the strongest signal area, and set up the interior antenna in an adjacent room so that there was at least 20ft separation. The external antenna was mounted to the inside of the window using a bracket with suction cups. Although I did have cable running between the rooms it was quick and easy to set up.I found that the signal was much better as long as I was close to the internal antenna – within approximately 4-5 feet I could browse the internet, watch videos and use my iPhone as an mobile hotspot.
Roof Mounted External Antenna
For this option I sent my husband on the roof and he mounted the antenna to a pole on the roof, and I connected the internal antenna. I had him move the angle of the antennae approximately 22 degrees at a time, whilst I was using my iPhone in field test mode to check signal strength. Once we found the optimum position we kept it in that spot and tried the reception in different places. The internal antennae is in the bedroom (where we had next to no signal before) and now I can surf the internet, watch videos and use my iPhone as a mobile hotspot. The signal was good enough that I was able to connect multiple laptops to the iPhone and have them both connected to the web. I could also simultaneously download mail, surf the web and play a Youtube video, which would have been totally impossible before. With the roof mounted option I also found I had a useable signal over a much bigger area – I can watch videos and use the iPhone as a hotspot from the living room, which is 20 ft or so from the internal antenna. I now typically get 3 -4 bars, instead of 1 bar, numerically the signal varies but it is at times as good as -79 – much better than -110.
Download and upload speeds
I did use the OOKLA Speed test app to test the download and upload speeds with the boosted and un-boosted signal as I planned to be very scientific and show the results in several different locations with and without the booster. What I found was there was a huge moment to moment fluctuation in the speeds, both with the signal boosted and un-boosted. So you really couldn’t compare single readings at any location boosted v un-boosted, but instead could look at trends. Overall, the boosted signal speeds were noticeably better, but there was a lot of scatter – spurious reading both bad and good in boosted and un-boosted.
In the worst signal location the test was failing un-boosted, and boosted signal download speeds were about 2-3mbps. In other places the download speed was typically about 2x as fast boosted vs un-boosted, upload times were better overall too, but by a smaller % – closer to a 50% improvement.
The most important question for me is does the DT4G™ noticeably improve the performance of my cellphone ? The answer in my testing is definitely yes. Even though I still have a variable signal after boosting (which I suspect is due to location and not having a big tower nearby) it is much, much more useable. I can now consistently have enough signal strength to use my iPhone as a mobile hotspot, watch online videos and be able to download apps and pictures, all of which were impossible 95% of the time before.
The DT4G™ Cellular Signal Booster by WeBoost has an RRP of $399 and is available from many retailers and online, find your local suppliers here.
NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.
Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).