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How to Improve a Poor Cell Signal

Nicholas Jones | August 24, 2018


Nowadays most of us live, work, travel and recreate in areas that have surrounding cellular towers and a pretty reliable cell signal that we connect to. And with almost everyone owning a cell phone now, we pretty much expect to have those solid cell connections wherever we go.

The cell service providers have built out their networks so that now coverage is better than it was just a few years ago. Still we all occasionally find ourselves in a spot where the cell signal is spotty or perhaps non-existent.

Why is that? Well, let’s review what makes a solid cell signal and how cell phone service works. Your cell phone communicates with a cell tower, and ultimately with other phones, using radio waves. Those waves move voice or data communications across specific frequency bands assigned to the various cell carriers.

How Does Cell Signal Work?

When your cell phone receives a signal from the cellular network, the strength of that signal is measured in a unit called a decibel-milliwatt, typically shortened to dBm. If you’re close to a cell tower the signal (the dBm reading) will usually be stronger.

However, sometimes you may be close to the tower, but obstructions between your location and the nearest cell tower will block, absorb or scatter the signal so your received dBm reading will be weaker.

Unfortunately for us all, you can’t always tell how strong your received cell signal is by looking at the bars on your cell phone. Those bars actually have little or nothing to do with the actual strength of the cell signal you’re getting. The number of bars you see on your screen typically varies based on the cell network you’re connected to, the manufacturer of your phone, or even the way you hold your phone while calling or texting.

Here’s the bottom line. There is no standard for what those bars on your phone mean or what they actually measure. You can read more about that here. What do the bars on your phone mean?

How to Overcome Dead Zones

Rural or sparsely populated areas naturally have fewer cell towers to provide coverage because there are fewer people. So in those locations you’re more likely to have weak cell signal or no signal at all — the dreaded dead zone. But even in urban or suburban areas where there are more cell towers relatively nearby, we might have trouble getting or keeping a reliable signal.

That’s because, as mentioned above, cell signals can easily be blocked, reflected or diffused – and thus weakened – by a lot of things. Terrain, buildings, even the shade trees around your home can weaken cell signals. Not to mention stuff like bad weather and even the very materials your home or workplace is constructed of.

That’s right. Materials such as brick, concrete and LEED-certified environmentally-friendly windows that are common in home and offices, are notorious cell signal blockers. This is often why your calls are dropped or you can’t download anything on your mobile device when you’re inside an office building.

What’s the Solution for Bad Cell Signal?

If you’re indoors, it can be as simple as going outside. Once you’re outside the building where those materials have been interfering with your cell signal, your reception will probably be fine.

But what if you live in northern climes, it’s winter and you don’t want to stand out in the cold to take a cell call from your boss? Or maybe you just don’t like having to take the elevator down 14 floors and then walk out of your office building onto the street to call the garage that’s repairing your car?

There is an effective, affordable technology solution – a cell phone signal booster. These systems use antennas and an amplifier to collect strong cell signal outside a building, boost it and then rebroadcast the amplified signal inside your home or workplace.

That lets everyone in the indoor space that’s covered by the amplified signal to connect with the cell network – even if they use different cell service providers.

Wilson Electronics is the leading manufacturer of cell phone boosters, and has been in the business of improving signal reception for over 40 years.

To learn more about our cell signal boosters and how to increase cell signal in your home or office, click the button below.