What Causes Weak Cell Phone Signal and Dropped Calls (And How to Prevent it)

Nicholas Jones | February 13, 2019

In today’s world, it’s hard to imagine life without the constant presence of your smartphone. It’s what keeps you connected to your friends and family. Your go-to source for entertainment. It’s also how you stay informed about everything going on at home and in the world.

This is why it can be so frustrating when you can’t seem to get a good cell phone signal.

Everyone has experienced the dropped call in the middle of a conversation. The delayed texts. The download that takes forever. Not being able access the internet. With all the improvements in mobile technology over the past 20 years, why is it still difficult to get a reliable cell signal?

The answer is simple. It’s not necessarily the network. Or the fault of your mobile provider. The two main reasons you experience poor cell reception come are distance and obstructions.

Distance

When it comes to cell reception, it’s easy to see why distance is a problem. The farther you are from the nearest cell tower, the more faint or undetectable that signal will be to your phone.

Even if you can manage to get a signal from that distant tower, your phone’s transmitter may lack the power to send its signal all the way back to the tower. Either way, the end result is the same. Without good cell reception, your ability to use your phone will be limited at best.

Distance becomes a bigger issue in less populated or remote areas where there are fewer cell towers. Given the high cost, regulatory preparation, and time investment involved with building new cell towers, the density of the existing cell tower network won’t change any time soon.

Recent statistics reveal there are just 307,626 cell towers in the U.S. for the 378.2 million cell phones being actively used by Americans: a ratio of 1:1,230 (tower per user.) In comparison, Japan has roughly 220,000 cell towers for its 106.8 million cell phone users for a 1:486 ratio.

Obstructions

Obstructions are responsible for the majority of poor cell reception issues. They are also the most difficult issue to overcome. An obstruction is anything between you and the cell tower that weakens cell signal or prevents it from reaching your phone or getting back to the tower.

There are many types of obstructions. They can be naturally occurring barriers or man-made materials or structures. Permanent objects like buildings or mountain sides. Or temporary conditions like snow storms or electrical interference. All can potentially disrupt cell signal.

(See our prior post The top 5 surprising things you didn’t know could block your cell signal)

Environmental Conditions

It’s easy to understand how a hill could obstruct a cell signal. But most people don’t take vegetation into consideration. Trees, shrubbery, or any kind of foliage could theoretically prevent you from experiencing good cell phone reception. Atmospheric conditions can also obstruct cell signal. Besides snow, culprits include rain, fog, and high winds that kick up lots of dust. Practically any atmospheric change is enough to weaken or block cell phone reception.

Inside Your Home or Office

In more urban areas, buildings become the main obstructions to cell signal. Even if the nearest cell tower is just half a block away, surrounding buildings may still present a problem. The radio frequency signals that wirelessly carry cellular communications can have difficulty penetrating metal, concrete, oxide-coated glass or the other energy efficient construction materials.

Even if there isn’t a building between you and the nearest cell tower, you may need to factor in the materials that comprise your own building may pose an obstacle. You may experience a strong cell signal when you are outside of your home. But that signal still has to get inside.

Inside your vehicle

The metal bodies and safety glass construction of most vehicles also act as physical barriers to cell phone signals. Plus, the near-constant motion and ever-changing distance between cell towers while driving only add to the possibility for experiencing bad cell phone reception. It’s really no surprise that weak cell signal and dropped calls are such a common problem.

Fortunately, there are several vehicle signal boosting solutions and home signal boosting solutions available. Cell phone signal boosters are highly effective at bringing in the existing outside cell signal inside, amplifying it and making it available for your phones to access.

 Want to experience better cell phone reception? Click below for the solution that’s right for you.