Posted on February 16, 2017

3 Ways To Solve the “Near-Far Problem” with Cell Phone Signal Boosters

Todd Fariss

Director of Commercial Solutions

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Cell phone signal boosters, also known as passive distributed antenna systems (DAS), offer a cost- and labor-effective solution for common connectivity problems like dropped calls and slow data speeds. One of the biggest selling points about these solutions is that they’re carrier agnostic. No matter which cell phone network you’re on, you can count on improved performance.  

a-happy-man-working-from-home-with-his-cell-phone-and-laptop_HtPmSD0So.jpgBut that doesn’t mean installing cell phone signal boosters is without it’s challenges. The “near-far problem” is one potential hurdle.

Since boosters are designed to ‘boost’ all cellular bands, regardless of carrier, a particularly strong signal can make it challenging for the system to amplify a weaker signal. An example of this is when a Verizon customer has an AT&T tower located in close proximity to their home, office or warehouse. In this scenario, the nearby AT&T signal could overpower the Verizon signal and make it difficult for the booster to detect.

Luckily, the dynamic and adjustable nature of cell phone signal boosters means this problem can be solved in a variety of ways, no matter how difficult the specific situation. Let’s look at how to solve the “near-far problem” with cell phone signal boosters.

1. Use Directional Antennas

You can use directional antennas to capture a particular carrier’s signal that’s drowned out by a powerful nearby cell tower. Pointing these antennas directly at a cell tower is ideal for environments that demand fine-tuned signal strength control. This strategy can help pick up the desired signal and mitigate the strength of the competing carrier.

But what should you do when competing towers are located in the same direction? There’s a solution for that, too.

2. Use a Filter

If your location is challenged by two competing cell towers, directional antennas won’t solve or mitigate the problem with great effect. However, you can rectify the issue by connecting a filter between the amplifier and the outside antenna. Setting these filters to minimize the undesired channel’s frequency allows the antennas and boosters to primarily capture the desired network.

This solution could potentially become problematic in a commercial setting because employees and customers likely use a variety of cellular carriers and blocking one or another could generate a new set of connectivity issues. However, because filters reduce the effect of signals rather than completely block them out, you can likely install a filter and still receive adequate signal from all desired carriers.

3. Install a second system

The relatively low cost of installing a signal booster system makes installing a second system an affordable remedy for the near-far problem, in many cases.  Simply install another system, using either the directional antenna approach or the filter approach described above.  That way, all carriers are covered.

While the “near-far problem” can create a headache for even the best installation professionals, there are a variety of ways to solve or mitigate the issue. Cell phone signal boosters still provide the most comprehensive and cost-effective solution for commercial and large residential users.

Download our eBook to learn more about cell phone signal boosters and how they can help solve connectivity problems in your clients’ homes and businesses. Or, contact us to discuss your unique challenges.

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