How to Get Cell Reception in a Dead Zone

Ken Perkins | December 16, 2016

Dead zones! Those places your phone has no *@(#%&$ signal. They’re frustrating because you can’t do anything that requires a connection to the network.

Maybe your workplace is a dead zone. Maybe your house is one. Maybe you drive through dead zones on your daily commute.

Years ago we thought of dead zones as limited to rural locations that weren’t covered by enough cell towers. But now we know dead zones also happen right in the middle of urban areas.

What Causes Dead Zones? The answer is simple. There are only two things that cause dead zones – (1) distance from the cell tower and (2) obstructions that block tower signals.

Obstructions can be natural, like hills or other terrain features. Or they can be man-made – tall buildings in the city are a good example of signal blockers. See our previous post “The top 5 surprising things you didn’t know could block your cell signal.”

It’s not a question of if you will find yourself in a dead zone with a need to use your phone. The question is when.

Here are five quick tips to help you get cell reception in a dead zone. Not all of these will work in every situation. But each one does work in specific conditions. So try them and hopefully they’ll help you get a signal.

#1. If you’re moving, stop If you’re driving, find a safe place to pull over and park. If walking, just stop. When you are stationary, your phone and the network don’t have to constantly adjust for your changing location. This makes it easier to get a signal.

#2 Change your location If you’re at home, try different rooms of your house or apartment to see if you get a signal. If you’re in the workplace, move to the other side of the office or into the hallway. Sometimes standing by a window might help. If driving, wait a few minutes then try again a few miles down the road.

#3. Find higher ground By increasing your elevation you reduce the chance of obstructions blocking the signal. So go up to the top floor of your home or workplace. If driving, find a high spot and park there to try your call. Being up just a little higher can help you find a signal

#4. Go outside As we noted, almost anything between you and the cell tower can block the signal. That includes the materials that make up your home, workplace or vehicle! Exiting the building or parking and stepping out of a vehicle will immediately reduce potential obstructions and perhaps help you get a signal.

#5. Get a cell phone signal booster If all else fails, a FCC-certified (IC-certified in Canada) cell booster from a reputable manufacturer will max out your cell signal whether you’re at home, at work or on the road. These devices use an antenna mounted outside the building or vehicle to detect and collect very faint cell signals that your phone cannot pick up.

Those signals are then amplified and distributed inside the building or vehicle so your cell phone has a strong, reliable connection.

If there is absolutely no detectable cell signal in your dead zone location, then a femtocell or microcell may be the only possible solution. These devices require a broadband internet connection. Also they work only in fixed locations like a home or office, and are not available for use in vehicles.


Sick and tired of dead zones? Below are a a couple of solutions! Click to learn more.