Frequently Asked Questions - Amplifier

Question Answer
How do I boost my cell phone signal? Dropped calls and slow data rates are generally caused by distance from a cell tower or natural and man-made obstructions, such as buildings, hills, trees, etc...

Cellular signals for both cell phones and data cards can be boosted by the use of a high gain antenna or the combination of an antenna and bi-directional amplifier system and Wilson Electronics offers multiple solutions to stay connected.

There are two components to ensuring reliable cellular communication. The first step is receiving a strong signal. Wilson’s high gain antennas collect weak or distant cellular signals and send them to the amplifier. The amplifier then boosts those signals and rebroadcasts them to nearby cell phones and data cards.

The second part of the equation is transmitting the signal back to the cell tower which is typically the weakest part of a phone’s ability when used alone. With a Wilson bi-directional amplifier you are able to broadcast a much stronger signal back to the cell site at a greater distance. A high quality Wilson amplifier system is critical to maintaining a constant connection and increased cellular standards.

All Wilson amplifiers are FCC-type accepted and most important, is our patented oscillation protection, which activates within milliseconds to prevent harmful interference to cell sites. It also monitors the amplifiers operation for optimum performance.

Wilson offers a wide range of powerful mobile wireless and in-building amplifiers for all carrier frequencies as well as high-gain antennas with multiple mounting options.

For more details call our tech support department directly at 1-866-294-1660.
What is a basic wireless amplifier system and how do I know if it will work for me? A basic system includes an outside antenna to collect the signal from the cell tower, an amplifier to boost the signal, an inside antenna to broadcast the improved signal over the inside of the building or vehicle and cabling to connect the three parts together.

   A wireless amplifier system will work for you if you can make a cell phone call from where-ever you might put the outside antenna. If you can make a call from outside of your vehicle or from the roof of your house or building, the signal is probably strong enough for the system to help you.
How much separation do I need between the outside and inside antennas? How much separation do I need between the amplifier and the antennas? The 50 dB amplifiers must have at least 40 feet of separation between the inside and outside antennas. The 60 dB amplifiers must have at least 75 feet of separation. Separation is measured as a straight line between the two antennas because signal travels through the air in a straight line. Separation is not measured by the length of cables.

   The amplifier does not need to be any specific distance from either the inside or outside antenna. You may, if necessary, connect the amplifier directly to either antenna. The separation between the antennas is critical, though.
Can I leave my amplifier on all the time? All Wilson amplifiers can remain on all the time; however, leaving the amplifier on in a vehicle when it is not running can discharge the battery in a day or two. In a vehicle, Wilson recommends that the amplifier be powered through the ignition switch so that the amplifier turns off and on with the vehicle.
Does a Wilson amplifier need to be professionally installed? In most cases, you can install a Wilson amplifier system yourself. The mobile systems and the building systems are designed for easy installation.
Do I need an FCC license or permit to operate a Wilson amplifier? All Wilson amplifiers fully comply with FCC regulations for cellular devices and are FCC Type Accepted. They require no license or permit to operate. The FCC Identification Number is printed on the back of each amplifier. Wilson amplifiers are also Industry Canada (IC) Type Accepted and have an IC Identification Number printed on the back of the amplifier. Wilson amplifiers have advanced design and engineering, that include microprocessor technology for top performance, as well as protecting cell sites from any interference.
Can I use an In-Building Wireless amplifier in a vehicle? In-Building Wireless amplifiers are not recommended for use in vehicles. You would probably not be able to get the required minimum separation of 40 feet between the inside and outside antennas. That would cause the amplifier to go into oscillation (feedback) and shut itself down.

   Also, the In-Building amplifiers do not have enough gain control and that would allow the amplifier to overload cell towers as the vehicle passes the tower. Wilson recommends that you use only a Mobile Wireless or Direct Connection amplifier in a mobile application.
Do I need to unplug the amplifier in my amplifier system before I make a change to the system? Yes. Unplug the amplifier from its power source any time you make a change to the system. This is especially true when an antenna is removed from the system. This prevents possible damage to the amplifier.
Can I have a system where two or more different carriers' phones work in an area of my building? If the carriers use different channels on the same frequencies, the carriers can overload each other. A two-carrier system can work and such a system can be built. Please call Technical Support at 1-866-294-1661 and we will help you as much as possible.
How many phones can I use at the same time on a wireless system? The number of phones that can operate simultaneously on a wireless system depends on the outside signal strength. The stronger the outside signal is, the more phones an amplifier can support. Conversely, the weaker the outside signal is, the fewer phones an amplifier can support. Wilson Technical Support has never received a report of a system supporting too few phones.
Can I wire the 12VDC power connection directly into my vehicle's electrical system? Yes. Most of our amplifiers have a hardwire kit available that allows you to connect directly to the vehicle's electrical system. You can also cut off the cigarette lighter adapter plug and wire the cord into a fused circuit. If you use a circuit controlled by the ignition switch, you can turn the amplifier off and on with the vehicle's key.

   The center contact in the amplifier's power connection is positive. Wiring the amplifier into the ignition system will prevent the amplifier from discharging the vehicle's battery when the vehicle is not running.
Will your amplifiers work on GSM? Yes. Wilson has amplifiers that work with all analog and digital cell phone technologies, including AMPS, CDMA, GSM, TDMA, iDEN, EDGE, 1xEV-DO, GPRS and the latest 3G HSDPA. Wilson has amplifiers specifically designed for GSM and iDEN.
Will your Mobile Wireless amplifier work with the Glass-Mount Antenna? The glass in a vehicle is not a substantial barrier for a cell phone signal, therefore a glass-mount antenna is not recommended. The separation between the outside and inside antennas must include a metal barrier (such as the roof of the vehicle). The metal acts like a shield and limits the possibility of oscillation in the amplifier.

   Oscillation (feedback) can result in poor performance and may eventually damage the amplifier. Without the barrier, the amplifier signal can pass through the glass and be easily picked up by the glass-mount antenna.
Can I use a Direct Connection amplifier as a wireless unit by adding an inside antenna? The Direct Connection amplifiers must be physically connected to your cell phone or cellular data card with an external antenna adapter. A Direct Connection amplifier does not produce enough gain to drive an inside antenna and give you even a small service range.

Frequently Asked Questions - Antenna

Question Answer
Does my Magnet-Mount antenna need to be mounted vertically or can I mount it horizontally? Cell tower antennas are mounted vertically, so the Magnet Mount Antenna and all of the other whip-type antennas will give the best performance when mounted vertically. When both antennas are in the same orientation, they are polarized. Polarized antennas transmit and receive signals with the most efficiency.
How do I tune a Yagi antenna? Point the main center beam of the Yagi in the general direction of the cell tower. Make sure the radials are pointing up and down. Connect the antenna to a cell phone in TEST MODE. Pan the Yagi left and right in 10 degree increments until you get the best signal strength reading from the phone. In most cases, you want a signal as strong as you can get.

   Signal strength is measured in negative decibels so a signal strength of -85 is stronger than -99. When you are panning the antenna, be sure to let go of the antenna or it may give inaccurate readings. Lock the antenna down at the position where you get the best signal strength.
Can I paint an antenna? Wilson antennas can be painted as long as the paint does not contain metal flakes (metallic paint). The metal particles would change and disrupt the antenna's signal transmission characteristics.
Can I use the signal strength bars on my phone to tune my Yagi antenna? Yes. However, tuning accuracy will be limited and more difficult than with a cell phone in TEST MODE. If your cell phone does not have a test mode, the signal strength bars may be the only way to tune your Yagi. Bear in mind that signal bars are more a marketing tool than a true signal-strength indicator.
On a glass-mount antenna, what is the temperature range the glass should be for installation? The Very High Bond (VHB) tape used on the Glass-Mount Antenna is produced by 3M Corporation and will provide good adhesion to a clean, flat glass surface. When you attach the antenna, the glass should be about 70 degrees F. After the adhesive has set up (about 24 hours), extreme temperatures will not affect it.
Can I use a Low-Profile antenna inside my car on the dash to obtain a better signal? The Low-Profile antenna would give you some signal increase on your dash compared to your cell phone alone inside your vehicle; however an antenna with a higher gain that mounts outside your vehicle (such as the Trucker, Glass-Mount, Magnet-Mount or NMO Mount) would give you better performance.
Will my Magnet-Mount Antenna work if I place it on a non-metal surface? A MagnetMount antenna must be placed on a ferrous metal (iron or steel) for it to work properly. If the magnet on the antenna base sticks to a surface, the surface is made of iron or steel and the antenna will work.
The cable on the antenna on my vehicle is not long enough. Can I add 30 feet of cable? All of the mobile antennas have a gain of about 5 dB. If you add 30 feet of a low-loss cable such as RG-58, the cable loss would be greater than the antenna gain resulting in a net loss of signal strength. If you must add more than 20 feet of cable, use a lower-loss cable, such as a 9913 equivalent.
Why do I have to install the outside and inside antenna so far apart? Each antenna on a wireless amplifier system has a signal pattern. To achieve the greatest coverage area possible, each signal pattern should not reach the other antenna. This would cause the amplifier to oscillate (feedback) and reduce the performance of the amplifier. The antennas on a 50 dB amplifier must be separated by at least 40 feet. The antennas on a 60 dB amplifier must be separated by at least 75 feet. A roof or wall will help with separation.
Does the Yagi antenna need to be grounded? The Yagi does not need to be grounded. However, we recommend a Lightning Surge Protector in all building installations. The Lightning Surge Protector will ground the antenna and prevent an electrical surge from damaging your amplifier.
What is the range of the inside antenna? The range or distance you can be from an inside antenna depends on the strength of the signal coming from the cell tower and the output of the amplifier. The stronger your signal is, the greater the range will be. Range is not determined by the antenna.
Can I install a antenna upside down? Yes. The signal pattern for the omni-directional antennas (such as the Trucker, Low Profile, Magnet or Glass Mount) will work well as long as the antenna is vertical (pointing up or down). However, they lose much of their effectiveness if they are mounted sideways or at an angle.
Can I hold my Yagi antenna to point it in different directions while attempting to tune it to a cell tower? When you hold or touch a Yagi or any antenna with exposed metal surfaces, your body alters and distorts the signal and changes the antenna's performance. With a Yagi, Wilson recommends that you temporarily mount the antenna while tuning. It is important that you let go of the antenna when you are taking a signal strength reading or the reading will be inaccurate.
Can I use a Yagi antenna on my RV? Yes. Since the Yagi is directional, you would need to re-tune it at each new location.
Can I place my Magnet Mount Antenna on top of my refrigerator? Yes, as long as the outside of the refrigerator is made of a metal to which the magnet will stick. The Magnet Mount Antenna should provide better performance than the cell phone antenna alone. However, placing the antenna outside will allow it to collect as much signal as possible.
Can I use a Trucker antenna on my house? Yes. Although designed for mobile use, a Trucker antenna will provide the same signal improvement if mounted on a stationary structure. However, we recommend a Yagi antenna for all building installations. A Yagi has more gain and can compensate for signal loss through the cable.

   The Yagi is directional and can reduce the chances of oscillation. It also has the ability to tune out interfering signals by pointing away from them.
Where should I place the inside antenna on an In-Building Wireless amplifier system? Place the inside antenna in the area where you need service the most. Keep the inside antenna out of contact with metal objects and away from electronic devices and electrical wiring. Some situations may require more than one antenna. Remember to keep the minimum separation between the inside and outside antenna.
Will your antennas work on GSM? Wilson antennas will work with all cell phone technologies including AMPS, CDMA, GSM, TDMA, iDEN, EDGE, 1xEV-DO, GPRS and the latest 3G HSDPA.
Do Wilson antennas work on digital signals or on analog signals? All Wilson antennas work on both digital and analog signals.

Frequently Asked Questions - Adapter

Question Answer
How can I see if my adapter is making a good connection with my phone or cellular data card? When the adapter is plugged into the phone or cellular data card, it disengages the built-in antenna so the device searches for an external antenna.

   With only the adapter plugged in (no external antenna), the signal should decrease because there is no antenna sending signal to the device. We recommend coiling up the adapter in your hand to shield it and prevent the adapter from acting like an antenna. By doing so, the bars on your device should go down, verifying the adapter is making a good connection.

   Because the bars are not the most accurate measurement of signal strength, putting the device into TEST MODE if possible, would give you the most accurate results. Signal strength is measured in decibels, which is abbreviated as "dB." For example, a signal strength of -88 dB is stronger than -92 dB.

   Test modes can be found by TEST MODE. Not all phone and cellular data devices have a test mode. If you have any other questions, please call our Tech Support team at 1-866-294-1660.
My new cell phone doesn't have an adapter port and I have a Direct Connection amplifier. What can I do? The cell phone manufacturers determine which phones have antenna ports. If your phone does not have a useable port, you may be able to exchange your cell phone with your dealer for a cell phone that has an antenna port. If you are unable to change phones, the wireless amplifier would be the best solution. The wireless amplifiers require no physical connection with the phone and can be used by more than one phone or data device at a time.
Will your adapter work with my current antenna? If your current antenna is designed for cellular frequencies and if the connector at the end of the cable is an FME-Female, your current antenna will connect directly to a Wilson external antenna adapter.

   If the connector on the end of your current antenna's cable is a MiniUHF-Male, a TNC-Male or an N-Male, Wilson has a connector converter that will allow your current antenna to connect to a Wilson external antenna adapter. All Wilson external antenna adapters terminate in an FME-Male connector.
How can I find out which model of cell phone I have so that I can get the correct external antenna adapter? If the model is not printed on the outside case of your cell phone, it will typically be printed on a label inside the phone under the battery.

Frequently Asked Questions - Component

Question Answer
I'm installing a Wireless Building amplifier system. What cable should I use? For any building application where cable runs are 20 feet or longer, Wilson recommends using 9913 (or equivalent) cable.
Can I use the cable that is already installed in my vehicle or in my building? As long as the cable is 50-ohm, it will work. Wilson does not recommend runs longer than 10 feet of RG-174 or runs longer than 20 feet of RG-58. 75-ohm cables such as RG-59 and RG-6, which are typically used in television and video systems, are NOT recommended in any length.
What type of connectors can I use? Use 50-ohm connectors designed for cellular frequencies. Wilson uses FME and N connectors. Other popular connectors used in mobile communication applications include Mini-UHF, TNC and SMA. Wilson uses N connectors for all building application components.
Can I use a PL-259 or UHF connector with a cellular amplifier or amplifier/repeater? It is not recommended. PL-259 (also known as UHF) connectors are rated for a maximum of 300 MHz and are not effective at cellular frequencies.
Do I need to use your cable? Wilson Electronics recommends and sells an ultra-low-loss coaxial cable that is the best solution for connecting a Yagi antenna to an amplifier. Wilson cables have the necessary cable connectors already attached. The 9913-equivalent cables lose about 4 dB of signal strength in a 100-foot run. Other cables with good signal loss ratings may be used; however, they must be 50-ohm cables. Cables with 75-ohm resistance are not recommended.
Does it matter what kind of cable I attach to my antenna? Yes. Every foot of cable loses signal. Use the lowest loss and shortest length of cable necessary to accomplish the job. However, you will still need to keep the necessary separation between the inside and outside antennas. The cable must have a resistance of 50 ohms. Television and video cables are not recommended. For any cable run longer than 20 feet, Wilson recommends a 9913 (or equivalent) cable.
The cable on my Trucker Antenna was damaged by the door. Can I cut out the damaged section and splice the two ends together. Yes. However, you must have suitable 50-ohm connectors crimped onto each of the cut ends.
Are any of the cables you offer "plenum-rated?" Plenum-rated cable typically costs twice as much as non-plenum rated cable. Unless your application REQUIRES plenum-rated cable, the ultra-low-loss 9913-equivalent cable offered by Wilson can be used. Plenum-rated cable has a special outer jacket that is highly heat resistant and it does not give off toxic fumes when burned.
Does your splitter work on the 1900 MHz frequencies? Wilson's current splitter works on the 800 MHz frequencies. We are developing a splitter for the 1900 MHz band.