Hi, today we're going to talk about locating the optimal location for your amplifier's donor antenna using your smartphone, a speed test app, and some legwork.
Whether it's a professional or residential installation, the donor antenna placement for an off-air repeater is the most important factor for getting quality signal inside any building. It's a greatly overlooked process and something I hope to address with this guide.
We're looking to improve 4G LTE signals and data rates. In most cases, optimizing for a 4G LTE signal will also provide enhanced talk and text and better 3G service, too.
Please note that we'll have to perform some data tests along the way, so it will consume your cellular data plan for those who don't have an unlimited data.
Let's get started:
1. Turn off WiFi on your phone
We're testing for cellular speeds, not WiFi speeds. If you're connected to WiFi while testing, your results will spoil the rest of the process, so turn off WiFi under the Settings tab of your phone.
2. Have a fully-charged phone
Many smartphones these days actually lower performance across the board when battery is low. So to make sure your phone antennas are fully operational, get it above 80% battery life, preferably 100% when starting.
3. Download SpeedTest by Ookla [For Apple | For Android]
It's an app I constantly use and recommend. Once downloaded, go to a location inside your home where you want to get improved signal and performance.
Open up the SpeedTest app by Ookla and perform a speed test. This is what you're currently getting. SpeedTest has a Results tab which allows you to see previous test results. This will be useful for before and after comparisons after installing the cell phone signal booster.
4. Go outside
Now we're going to find the best location to install the donor antenna. I recommend grabbing a notepad and pen since we're going to do a few speed tests around the perimeter of your home.
We're going to record 8 locations: front, back, left side, right side, and the four corners.
To get started, position yourself about 10 ft in front of your home with your back facing the wall and your phone held in regular position.
Now run the speed test 3 times. Record the download and upload speeds under Mbps.
This is one set for the 'Front' location of your home. Now working clockwise or counter clockwise, you'll repeat the test for the back, left side, right side, and the four corners.
Some results will fluctuate but that's to be expected. As long as your Ping results are between 1-150, you should be fine. Just stay consistent with the testing methods.
5. Compare results
After averaging out the 3 test results for all locations, you're looking for the highest download & upload speeds.
The location with the highest download & upload speed average is the optimal location to install your donor antenna since that's the direction where the cell site is broadcasting your carrier signal.
I would also recommend doing some real-world activities such as making calls, text messaging, and viewing emails at the optimal location to ensure everything is working properly.
If everything checks out, congrats: now that you have the best location to install your donor antenna and the rest of your cell phone amplifier system.
6. Bonus Professional Tips
- Important: After installation is complete, be sure to weatherproof your exterior connections using 3M Mastic Tape.
- When installing coaxial cables avoid pulling the cable from the connector ends. This ensures the connector is not damaged during installation.
- Taping plastic over the connector end can prevent dust and debris from getting inside the connector during installation.
- Ensure your donor antenna is mounted with the weep hole facing down to allow any rain or condensation to drain out.
And that's it. Simple and effective methods to ensure you're getting the best out of your system. Thank you for reading.
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