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Femtocell or Cell Signal Booster: Which One Do You Need?

Femtocell or Cell Signal Booster: Which One Do You Need?

Written By Alejandra Jasso
5th Mar 2024

Do I Need a Femtocell or Cell Phone Signal Booster?

We all want smooth connectivity without any annoying interruptions. Yet, many of us still struggle with dropped calls and slow data speeds from the comfort of our own home or place of work. Cell tower distance, building material, and topography tend to be the main culprits behind cellular signal challenges.

Fortunately, you can improve your cellular connectivity where it matters most with a femtocell or cell phone signal booster.

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What is a Femtocell?

A femtocell, also known as a microcell or network extender, is a small cellular base station designed to improve cellular coverage within a specific area via your broadband internet. It looks like a WiFi modem and is ideal for residential and business use.

How Do Femtocells Work?

Femtocells require an ethernet backhaul to your internet router to work. They are compatible with cable, DSL, and fiber internet. A minimum speed of 20 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload is recommended.

Once set up, femtocells can cover up to 10 meters with reliable cell reception. You can think of them like a mini cell tower in your house or business.

Only devices operating under the same carrier can connect to the femtocell when in range. Most femtocells support a limited number of users at a time. For example, residential femtocells typically support 4 to 8 simultaneous devices. Depending on the unit's specifications, it's likely not all users will be able to enjoy a reliable connection.

Most femtocells offer a portal where you can manage settings and control connected devices.

Since femtocells use your internet to create a signal source, connectivity challenges can arise during periods of heavy internet usage.

What are the Benefits and Limitations of Femtocells?


  • Enhanced Indoor Coverage: Femtocells can improve cell reception within their coverage area, providing a reliable connection for voice calls and data usage.
  • Do Not Require Existing Cellular Service: A usable cellular signal is created using your Internet connection. This makes femtocells great options for homes and offices located in cellular dead zones.
  • Easy Installation: Setting up a femtocell is straightforward and does not require any tech knowledge.
  • Improves Device Battery Life: Since cellular devices will no longer be continuously searching for a usable signal, battery life will significantly improve.


  • Internet Dependency: A stable internet connection is needed for femtocells to work. So, If your internet goes down, so does your cellular coverage.
  • Limited Carrier Compatibility: Femtocells are carrier-specific. Devices subscribed to other carriers will not be able to keep connected.
  • Limited Coverage: Do not expect wall-to-wall coverage with a femtocell. They are designed to cover small areas. Your connection will drop when outside the unit's range if a usable signal is not detected.
  • Cost: Carriers may charge monthly fees to operate a femtocell.
  • Only Work in Fixed Locations: They can only be used to improve cell coverage in homes and offices. There is not a vehicle-friendly option.

Who Sells Femtocells?

Carriers like Verizon and AT&T offer their own femtocell solutions, each with its own features and compatibility requirements.

  • AT&T Cell Booster: This is AT&T's femtocell offering. The name is a bit misleading. It is not to be confused with a cell phone signal booster. Under perfect conditions, this can cover up to 3,000 sq ft with dependable 4G LTE and supports up to 8 simultaneous users.
  • Verizon LTE Network Extender: Verizon's femtocell improves LTE coverage across 7,500 sq ft. That's about a 50-foot radius. Up to 16 users can be connected at a time with low transmission power.

Other carriers, like T-Mobile, have discontinued their femtocell units. We recommend you contact your provider to see if they offer femtocells.

Cell Phone Signal Boosters: The Best Femtocell Alternative

Cell phone signal boosters, also known as cellular repeaters or amplifiers, are devices that enhance cellular reception inside homes, offices, and vehicles. Unlike femtocells, they do not rely on an internet connection.

Via an outdoor antenna, cellular boosters capture exciting cellular signals. An amplifier receives those signals, boosts them, and relays them to an indoor antenna for rebroadcasting into your desired area. Bidirectional, cell phone signal boosters also transmit a stronger signal to your nearest cell tower for a stronger connection. Operation is powered by electricity. For more information, visit How Do Cell Phone Signal Boosters Work.

Coverage varies across models. For instance, a home unit can provide up to 20,000 sq ft of coverage, while a commercial unit can cover upwards of 100,000+ sq ft. Your existing cellular signal strength will affect coverage capacity. The weaker the signal, the less coverage the unit can provide, and vice versa.

Like femtocells, there are carrier-specific cellular boosts, which are generally more powerful. However, there are also multi-carrier options that enable you to keep more devices connected no matter their provider.

To summarize, here is a list of the advantages and limitations of cell phone signal boosters:


  • No Internet Required: Signal boosters operate independently of your internet connection, making them immune to internet outages.
  • Wide Coverage Area: Depending on the booster's specifications, it can cover larger areas than femtocells.
  • Compatibility: Signal boosters can work with all major carriers and support multiple cellular devices.
  • No Monthly Fees: Cellular boosters are a one-time purchase only without recurring charges.
  • Mobile Capabilities: There are cell phone boosters for any situation, including vehicles and boats.
  • Improves Device Battery Life: Since cellular devices will no longer be continuously searching for a usable signal, battery life will significantly improve.


  • Installation: While not difficult, installing is more time-consuming compared to a femtocell.
  • Initial Cost: Cellular signal boosters typically have a higher upfront cost than femtocells, though they may offer better long-term value.
  • Need Existing Cellular Signal: Cellular boosters do not create cellular signals, they amplify them. Without existing cellular signals, they will not work.

Should I Get a Femtocell or Cell Phone Signal Booster?

Both femtocells and cellular boosters offer unique advantages and disadvantages. Evaluating your specific needs will help you determine the optimal solution for boosting your cell signal and staying connected.

For those seeking a reliable, internet-independent solution with broader coverage and better long-term value, cellular signal boosters emerge as the clear winner. A cellular signal booster can detect even the slightest signal from your mobile tower and deliver it even stronger indoors. Now, if you're in a total cellular signal dead zone, a femtocell is a better option. Here are our most popular cell phone signal boosters:

Nextivity CEL-FI GO G41 100dB 5G 4G LTE Cell Signal Booster
Starting at $1,298.00

Nextivity CEL-FI GO G41

Most powerful cell booster for small businesses and large homes. Single-carrier. Up to 20K sq ft.
View Details
SureCall Fusion4Home Signal Booster
Starting at $399.99

SureCall Fusion4Home

Cell booster for small to mid-size homes. Multi-carrier. Up to 4K sq ft.
View Details
Cel-Fi by Nextivity GO M Vehicle Smart Signal Booster
Starting at $799.99

Cel-Fi by Nextivity GO M

Most powerful single-carrier cell booster for vehicles.
View Details
weBoost Drive Reach Cell Phone Booster Kit
Starting at $499.99

weBoost Drive Reach

Most poweful multi-carrier cell booster for vehicles.
View Details

At Signal Boosters, we specialize in providing top-quality cellular signal boosters tailored to your specific needs. Give us a call at 1-800-470-6777 or email us at to learn how we can help you say goodbye to unreliable cellular reception.

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