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Your home is your castle. A personal sanctuary. A safe retreat where you can gab on the phone for as long as you please. At least, that’s what I loved about my home until spotty cell service and frequent dropped calls started driving me mad.
I was hoping the weBoost Eqo ($349.99 on Amazon) could come to the rescue. The Eqo is a cellular signal booster that works with all smartphones on all the major carriers. It’s supposed to improve network performance and call quality inside your house the minute you plug it in, but I found the set-up process to be finicky, and the signal-boosting to be inconsistent to downright non-existent.
And I wasn’t the only one: A co-worker tested the weBoost Eqo and experienced similarly poor results in his home. The bottom line is that unless you’re starting with a strong enough cellular signal at the edges of your house, this product won’t do anything for you.
Setting up the weBoost Eqo
The Eqo comes in two pieces: a booster unit that sits on your windowsill and wirelessly connects to the nearest cell tower, and an antenna that must be placed at least six feet away. Both units are light enough to lug around the house, but they’re also eyesores that don’t easily blend with home decor. The upshot is you’ll have to get creative about how you integrate them into your home—and that could be a challenge if the best window for the big, black, blocky booster unit is in your otherwise posh living room.
The power cable for the booster unit is inexplicably short. As a result, you may have to run an extension cord to get power to just the right windowsill. The booster connects to the antenna via a 25-foot coaxial cable, and there’s no escaping the fact that the cable is just another eyesore junking up the house.
How to set it up
At first glance, the Eqo units are easy to set up. All you have to do is connect the two pieces with the bundled coaxial cable, and then plug in the booster. The hard part is actually figuring out where to place the two devices in your house.
For best results, you’ll want to place the Eqo booster unit in the window that faces the neighborhood cell tower with the best signal (it will typically be the tower closest to your house). If this all sounds a bit daunting, that’s because it is. Luckily, a few apps can help determine where to position the booster unit. On Android, I used OpenSignal to help locate my nearest cell tower, and SignalCheck Lite to measure cellular signals in decibels inside my home. Yes, there’s a signal indicator available in the Android Settings panel, but I found the apps to be more accurate.
When it comes to cellular signal strength, lower numbers are better, so you’ll want to place the unit wherever you get the smallest decibel-milliwatt (dBm) reading. Once you’ve figured this out, connect the booster to the antenna, and then place the antenna at least six feet away, and facing the area of the house that needs the most boost.
After that’s all laid out, plug in the booster—hopefully the best position is near a wall outlet!—and wait for the light to come on. If it’s green, you’re good to go. If it’s red, that means your two units are in a feedback loop, so locate the antenna further away from the booster, and make sure it’s facing in the same direction as the booster.
Does the Eqo even work?
Wilson, which manufactures the weBoost line, claims that the Eqo can boost your existing cellular signal up to 32 times the amount you’d regularly have available. I had a positive experience when I initially tested the Eqo at CES (an environment completely controlled by Wilson), and then again when I plugged in at the TWiT Brickhouse in Petaluma, California. But, unfortunately, that didn’t translate to my experience at home.
The Eqo is not a box of magic. It won’t create more cellular signal if you’re in a dead zone. In fact, a rep from Wilson customer service told us the product really isn’t effective unless you already have a signal of -90 dBm or stronger on the edges of your house. This extremely important bit of information appears nowhere on the product packaging, or even in the more detailed description on the Wilson website.
In fact, the following statement—buried in the Wilson website—is the only caution we found: “The existing outside signal strength that you receive has a large impact on the amount of coverage area you get from a signal booster. It is important to remember that there are many factors that go into determining the coverage area, so actual results may vary from these estimates.”
The Eqo comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, but who wants to deal with returns? Really, there’s only one legitimate use case for the Eqo: Boosting a sufficiently strong signal from the edge of your home to the middle of your home—like, say, an interior room or a basement where you experience a lot of dropped calls. Now, that’s a fine use case. But Wilson should be much more up front about what the Eqo can and cannot do.
I tested the Eqo at my suburban home in the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay Area with a Nexus 6P on Verizon Wireless. I typically hover between -81 and -90 dBm for Verizon’s EVDO coverage, and see in the neighborhood of -101 dBm for LTE. I get spotty call quality toward the back of my house, and because my reception is so bad to begin with, the Eqo hardly helped. The booster managed to increase my signal by a few decibels—up to -79 dBm on EVDO and -98 dBm on LTE. But that was upstairs, and I wasn’t seeing the full five bars of service like the box advertises. Elsewhere in the house, I didn’t see any improvement.
I tested the Eqo again with a Samsung Galaxy S7 Active on AT&T, and then with the Sony Xperia X Performance on T-Mobile. The results were even worse. There was absolutely no change in coverage with AT&T, while the T-Mobile device went from -101 dBm to -97 dBm for HSPA coverage. LTE coverage didn’t improve whatsoever.
OK, so that was my experience. Our editor-in-chief, Jon Phillips, also tested the Eqo at his home in San Francisco located in a T-Mobile dead zone. Here’s his report:
“Like most houses in my neighborhood, I have homes directly adjacent to the left and right. This means I only have two windowed areas where I can put the main booster unit: In the very back of the house (where I get -98 dBm at best) or the very front (where I typically see -112 dBm). I’m starting out with horrible coverage, and the bottom line is that the Eqo did absolutely nothing for me. I saw zero improvement.”
Is it worth the money?
I originally wanted to situate the Eqo facing my office space so that I’d have better service while working from home, but the booster simply didn’t work downstairs. It did work better upstairs—giving me one extra bar of service so I could take calls in the bedroom—but overall the product didn’t deliver on its promises.
All in all, the Eqo was a bummer. If you bring it home and find it won’t boost signal to a specific area of your house (or, perhaps, won’t even work at all), you’ll have to arrange for a product return. Also, the set up required to achieve optimum results could be challenging for tech newbies. On the plus side, WeBoost offers attentive customer service, which is great considering there’s more to this product than simply plugging it in and gabbing away, as the manual suggests.
For what it’s worth, Wilson suggests checking out the Home4G ($397.00 on Amazon) for larger houses, but I’m going to avoid cellular boosters entirely after this experience, and just stick with Wi-Fi calling. It’s reliable, and doesn’t cost anything extra.
This story, "WeBoost Eqo review: This cellular signal booster couldn't improve our in-home coverage" was originally published by Greenbot.
Wilson Electronics WeBoost Eqo
The Eqo promises up to 32 times better signal coverage indoors, but two product testers found it did almost nothing.
- Works with all four major carriers in the U.S.
- Could boost your cellular signal—if you're starting with -90 dBm or stronger.
- Difficult to determine exactly where it should go in your house.
- Doesn't perform as promised, boosting signal negligibly to not at all.
- Doesn't blend with decor; power cord is too short.