Why the need for mobile phone boosters?
Poor mobile phone coverage is often a problem to; users in rural locations due to distance from base stations, in built up areas due to building obstructing line of sight to base stations, and inside buildings due to the opacity of walls and windows to radio-waves. A the number of mobile phone users has gone up and in some areas reached 100% market penetration. The number of Google queries relating to signal boosters (see the image) has risen as users have sought an answer to the problem of poor reception.
How do signal boosters work?
Typically the units for domestic use comprise of two components:
- An optional external arial to acquire a signal to boost;
- An internal arial to re-send the boosted signal.
Installation is simple if a sufficiently good signal exists to boost, but you can't boost what is not there! The external arial will certainly be required in low signal areas, so professional help may well be required for a safe and neat installation.
What type of units are available?
Units may be optimised for a single network or multiple networks. They may be data only or voice only. No doubt a complete listing will reveal almost every permutation in between. Units also come with different power ratings, usually expressed as an area, no doubt because this sounds a nice big number.
Are boosters legal in the UK?
The advice from Ofcom is unambiguous. Boosters are ilegal if installed without a license so, if your signal needs boosting, then you need to contact your service provider. However, it does not appear to be an offense to sell such units.
What is the future for boosters?
A speculative view is to consider the convergence of VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) with other communication services. Many people now use services such as Skype on mobile handsets with a WiFi connection. The natural thought experiment says why not use WiFi to link to the communication service whenever it is available. After all, VOIP is used within all communications infrastructure, so the issue is not technical, it is all about how it is bundled into a commercial service.
This approach suggests that the use of boosters is really driven by needs as they appear at a moment in time, and that once handsets, WiFi and VOIP services have more completely converged that the WiFi router will become the focus for domestic communication (and entertainment) services.
It is therefore hard to see any real future for mobile phone boosters.
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