Everything is going mobile these days, if it already hasn't. That includes internet connectivity for a lot of people, including my parents who live "down the holler" in rural Missouri. They have a land line still because it's more reliable, but like everyone else they mostly just want to use their mobile phones all the time. They have an additional wrinkle in that they can't get any form of internet connectivity except via a cell modem/hotspot or satellite, the latter being too expensive.
However, being literally down in a small ravine off the rural highway in the hills means poor cell signal strength. They have tried everything to improve it, but nothing worked to the point where they could do one particular thing they truly want to: videoconference via Zoom/Skype/Facetime with their kids and grand-kids. Long story short: the weBoost Home MultiRoom Signal Booster kit (470144) solved the problem, and they are now able to happily connect over video to all the little rugrats. Read on for details.
So the slightly longer version: the weBoost Home MultiRoom sits in the middle of the weBoost home solutions, and it's designed to extend coverage up to 5,000 square feet. Installation isn't terribly difficult if you're at all tool-inclined, and you RTFM of course… If you want the gory tech specs, click right here. The bottom line is the Home MultiRoom works with all major carriers and phones.
We've said it before and we'll say it again, weBoost has one of the best out of the box experiences of any consumer electronics product. They provide clear diagrams that show how all components fit together, with no surprises. As usual with cell boosters, before you get to the installation remember to register your device with the FCC. It's free and just takes a minute. Installation is essentially the same with all weBoost boosters: place one antenna inside, one outside, connect both to the booster and the booster to power and you're done.
Optimizing the placement to squeeze out every dB of signal boost is a bit more involved but pretty simple in that it will require moving the antennae around and testing your signal strength each time. Cell signal is measured from -50dB (perfect signal) to -120dB (dead zone). After installing put your phone in field test mode to see your signal strength in dB, because the bars that supposedly show signal strength really don’t mean jack. On iOS 12 open phone app > dial pad > type in *3001#12345#* > hit send to open a hidden menu. Go to LTE > Serving Cell Meas > look at the rsrp0 number to see the strength of the closest cell tower in dB. On an iPhone this mode used to replace the useless bars with a useful numerical decibel reading where -50dB is a perfect signal and -120dB is a dead zone. However since iOS 11 you now get this funky menu setup that has a lot more information but is difficult to read, not least because the list of data that includes the critical rsrp0 number keeps automatically resorting every second or so. If you’re specifically interested in data up/download speeds get the Speedtest app by Ookla to test your speeds before and after boosting.
Signal strength generally depends on the location and power of the nearest cell tower, which you can find at least roughly with a number of apps and websites. Performance of the booster depends on signal strength: the higher the signal strength, the more you'll gain, it's just the nature of the thing, and weBoost recommends a base signal strength of -100dB to operate.
The Home MultiRoom, once installed and optimized, raised signal strength from a pre-installation range of -107 to -118 (1 or 2 bars) up to a post-installation range of -91 to -98 (4 bars). More importantly, it made video calls functional with only the occasional glitch, a huge improvement. So once again, weBoost nails it. If you're living on the edge – and aren't we all these days? – check out their home signal boosters.