From the Inside: Two Bands or Four

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There is a lot of jargon that gets bandied about when people start discussing technology. Sometimes it makes perfect sense. Other times, it can leave you more confused than when you started.

One simple enough term in the cellular lexicon that can lead to a lot of confusion is “band”. So in an attempt to get you up to speed, here’s my take on what that really means.

Bands are groupings of frequencies of the radio spectrum. Specific bands are assigned to different carriers for their use. This is nothing new. It’s something that’s been done with radio, television and now cellular.

Let’s look at television as a simple example. In the days when they used to have UHF and VHF (or with radio, AM and FM), participants could select their own channels within those bands.

In the mobile world, there are multiple bands, some of which are not available in certain jurisdictions. Each band is assigned a reference number, which indicates a block of frequencies (e.g. 850 to 890 Megahertz is Band 5). So why are bands so important? Let’s say you travelled to England and bought a phone. It’s most likely that the phone will be compatible with Band 1. However, it might not work on networks in the U.S. since major carriers such as T-Mobile and AT&T use Bands 2, 4 and 5.

If you’re buying a phone direct from a carrier, your phone is designed to work on their network. But if you buy from Amazon or the handset manufacturer, you need to verify that it’s compatible with the band used by your carrier.

Here’s where Cel-Fi fits in. Just like a phone, a smart signal booster has to be configured to match the appropriate bands for your carrier. But unlike a phone, you can’t get a 14-year-old on the corner to unlock your Cel-Fi system – and that’s a good thing. Because Cel-Fi is carrier specific (and FCC compliant) it is authorized to work at much higher levels for each carrier than any other booster out there. As a carrier specific device, it does not interfere with other carrier signals and offers much more boost for your buck.

Now there’s one last thing about bands you need to know. Carriers are now buying new bits of spectrum (AT&T is adding Band 17 for example), which means Cel-Fi technology has to keep pace – and it is. The current RS2 was designed to support two bands simultaneously, which was all our customers really needed – until now. Since we’re already well ahead of the curve, in future releases of Cel-Fi you can expect to see products that will support up to four bands.

Have you got questions about how bands work? Let us know.

From the Inside by George Lamb, VP Operations and Support

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