Barbara asked: “I live in a dead zone, what can I do to improve my signal so I can tether my laptop to my hotspot on my Android. I have no Internet at home. Confusing info out there, antenna, booster? Thank you for your help.”
Barbara, the first thing we should mention is that to boost a signal you need a signal. If you really live in an absolute dead zone and you can’t get a signal outside, there’s not going to be much you can do to make the signal strong enough to use it effectively for a hotspot.
Normally, in dead zones you’d either route your calls via WiFi or get a device from your cell phone provider to act like a small tower to get you service. The problem is that both of those options require internet access and you’re trying to get internet through your cell signal, so you can’t use them.
If you get any kind of signal outside, you can try a booster system which will consist of an antenna that you mount outside your home, and a small device that looks a little like a router that you plug in inside your home.
The antenna outside will pick up the signal, route it through a cable to the device inside, and the device inside will boost it so your hotspot can see it and use it.
These signal boosters are not very cheap, weBoost sells 4G boosters from around $400 to around $900, but that last one would be for a large building, their 3G offerings are a little less expensive, but still hundreds of dollars. weBoost is the company that resulted from merging Wilson Electronics and zBoost, so they pretty much dominate the market right now, the other company you could check out is SureCall but their prices are about the same.
Whether or not they’ll work for you depends on what kind of signal is around your house, the antenna has to pick up a useable signal for you to get a decent connection. If there’s nothing to boost, you will get no benefit. If there is something to boost, but barely, you’ll probably drop so many packets that your connection will be terrible anyway.