If you’ve followed by blog over the years, you know I’m a big fan of cell boosters in ‘cell challenged’ Sullivan County. I live in a cell tower “shadow” area, where I can kind of, sort of make a call outside, but calls often drop inside my house. For over ten years, I’ve had a Wilson Electronics (now known as Weboost) cell booster set up on my house with an external antenna and internal booster/antenna. I’ve upgraded the equipment over the years, as Verizon upgraded my local tower from 2G to 3G to 4G/LTE. I also have Wilson cell boosters in my vehicles.
Most of the Wilson/Weboost home and office cell boosters require installation, with an external antenna connected by coax cable to the internal amplifier, and then to an internal antenna. An external antenna set up, with a directional antenna pointed towards the closest cell tower, gives you the most gain (or boost) in signal. But for a lot of people, it’s too involved to set up. So the new Weboost eqo (pronounced “echo”) product caught my eye, and I was doing a lot of reading about it on Friday evening.
The next morning, one of my clients showed up for the home inspection for a house they’re buying toting one of these. She’s a blogger who writes about tech, and gets products to test and review. She had just gotten the Weboost eqo, and give that the house they’re buying is in a somewhat cell challenged area, brought it along to give it a test drive.
We both walked around the house with our phones (Verizon) to check signal strength in different areas to find the best spot to place the booster. (Note: you need some signal to boost for these things to work. So if you get some signal outside your house but not inside, for example, a cell booster can help. But if you’re in a total dead zone with no signal it won’t.) Set up was easy. You set the booster in a window, connect a power cord, and then connect the internal antenna with the internal mini-coax cable. YOu then place the internal antenna 10 to 15 feet away from the booster. There’s no fiddling with settings, or installing an external antenna and running coax cable down through your attic.
Did it work? Yes. I didn’t take screen shots or log by -dB measurements (which is the measure of signal strength) with the booster on and off. The signal inside was definitely stronger with the booster on. I wasn’t seeing the same boost I get with my home set up (with a more powerful whole house booster and external antenna.) But where we tested the eqo, the signal inside the house was stronger to begin with compared to my own home, where without a booster I can barely make a call and 4G drops back to 3G.
The one downside is that this is not designed to be a “whole house” booster, to spread a boosted signal throughout your house and on to your deck. The specs say it has a coverage area up to 1,500 sq. ft., but when I moved more than 10 or 15 feet from the internal antenna, the “boost” dropped off. However, given that there was a reasonably OK signal in the house without the booster, it may have been that when I moved away from the internal antenna my phone picked up the ‘native’ tower signal rather than the boosted signal from the eqo. I’d love to have been able to try this out at my house, which is in a much more cell challenged location (and compare it to my more powerful external antenna set up.)
Also, you can see from the photo that’s it’s not tiny. If you’ve had one of their “desktop” boosters (that are about the size of an internet router), you might be thinking this is similar. (I was thinking it was going to be more the size of a set of bluetooth speakers).
I liked the eqo because it’s easy to set up and not complicated to use. There aren’t any gain settings to fiddle with or antennas to mount and point. If you have a really weak signal, it might not be the best Weboost option (although it looks like there is an option to attach an external antenna). But if you need a little extra help to pull in a cell signal without a lot of hassle, it may be worth checking out. There’s more info on the Weboost site and you can also find it on Amazon. One last note, as someone who has had a lot of experience with boosters. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS, particularly about placement, and get as much distance as you can between the “external” antenna (which is part of the main booster on this) and the “internal” antenna. WIth all of the Wilson boosters I’ve owned, placement is one of the most crucial elements to these things working well.