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June 9, 2016 — by KEN PERKINSSHARE ARTICLE
Truck drivers know, whether they have a dedicated run or are at the mercy of their dispatcher, that keeping cellular connectivity on the road is not optional. It’s absolutely vital.
In many areas of North America, cell connections are not much of a problem. In locations with relatively high population density, cell towers typically are numerous and close together.
But drivers who run the Western states or parts of Canada know they can find themselves in places where cell towers are few and far between. And that means cell reception may not be there when a driver needs it most.
Distance from the tower isn’t the only reason drivers may not have a good cell coverage on the road. Many times it’s the obstructions between their location and the tower that weaken or block cell signals. I’m talking about things like terrain features (hills, for example), any man-made structures (a bridge or overpass) or local weather conditions (fog, rain, snow, even a dust storm).
Here are our top 5 tips for truck drivers to get and keep a solid cell signal on the road. Not all of these will work in every situation. But each one does work in specific conditions. So try them until you find one or two that work for you.
1) Keep trying down the road
This is a no-brainer. If you can’t get or hold a reliable signal when you first try a call, then try again 20 miles or so down the road. As a driver travels down the highway, coverage for his or her phone is constantly being handed off from one tower to the next. If you’re out of range on your first call attempt, another try after a few miles might find you within range of the next tower.
Now if you drive a regular route you probably know where all the dead zones and spotty coverage areas are. But if a route is new to you or is one you rarely drive, this tip is often your best bet.
2) Find higher ground
Cell signals operate on line-of-sight, and as we noted earlier, obstructions between you and the tower block or weaken your signal. By increasing your elevation you reduce the chance of obstructions degrading your cell reception. So if you’ve been driving through a valley or a localized low spot, try your connection again as you near the top of a ridge or hill. Being up just a little higher can help you find a solid signal.
If 1 and 2 above aren’t working for you, find a safe place to pull over and try your call. I know, sometimes just finding a place to pull off can be a real chore. But this tip works because when your phone and the cell network don’t have to constantly adjust for your changing location, it’s easier to get and keep a solid signal.
4) Get out of the cab and step away from the truck
If being stationary didn’t result in a clean connection, then the next step is to get outside your cab and try your call. Yes, this can be really inconvenient if it’s cold outside or you’re in some bad weather. But it often works because by stepping outside you once again reduce potential obstructions between you and the tower.
Your truck – the cab as well as the trailer and load – block cell signals from reaching your phone. By climbing down and taking a few steps away, you may find a reliable signal.
5) If nothing else works, get a cell signal booster
This obviously is the last resort if none of the above will work for you, or if you don’t have time or patience to mess around with 1 through 4. A FCC-certified (IC-certified in Canada) cell booster from a reputable manufacturer will max out your cell coverage on the road.
If you ever need to find a shop fast because your truck is acting up, or if (heaven forbid) you’re broke down and need a tow, or you just want to check in at home and hear the latest news about your son’s ball game or daughter’s college board exams, a cell signal booster is your best insurance policy.
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TAGS: signal tips, stay connected