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​Poor Cell Phone Signal? Here're Things Blocking it.

Posted by on Feb 13, 2017

Know what causes your cell phone to show NO SERVICE message. See whether the reception blockage can be corrected or avoided easily.

Things Blocking Your Cell Phone Signal.

In a world where cell phones and mobile data devices are highly critical and required, cell phone signal reliability is everything. However, the reality is such that just when you're using an app, making calls, downloading on your Smartphone or even sending a critical text message - the signal could disappear in an instant. Chances are the fault is not with the carrier you're using but something else. Of course the first thing that gets blamed is the cell phone service provider.

If you pay a little attention, the reason for the poor cell phone reception has nothing to do with your carrier. In most cases it is something else lying between the cellular carrier and your cell phone. Across North America and the United States and Canada in particular, bad signal is usually the result of a localized bad reception as a result of destructive interferences mostly man-made and complications of topology of the region or geography where obstacles bring about obstructions between the closest cell phone tower and your cellphone.

Before you decide to change the carrier you might want to know exactly what could be blocking your cell phone signal to prepare accordingly before taking the next step.

Barriers related to geography.

Most geographical signal barriers appear insurmountable. Ridges, mountains, hills and related terrain can easily hinder you from making a quick call. Wherever a higher ground exists between the cell tower and the phone signal, complications usually arise. In case you're making a road trip across Canada or United States or just travelling to the next city you can enjoy a great signal in a few minutes only to have the coverage disappear in the next few seconds. Terrain can definitely diminish the quality of your signal particularly while driving across the country.

How far is the closest signal tower?

Before you can treat the malady afflicting your cell phone signal quality, the distance between the cell tower closest to you has to be considered. Note that a cell phone reception is just a radio frequency and a wave; a typical RF signal acts and behaves the same way. For instance, if you have an FM radio inside your car - the farther you move from the source of the signal, the weaker the reception and finally it will disappear completely as you leave the city, area, etc. The same thing happens to cell phone signals - the further you're from the cell tower, more unusable and unreliable the signal will be.

Unfortunately, "signal bars" on smartphones is not an accurate method to check the signal strength (although it is very easy and does give a signal strength guesstimate). The most accurate measure of signal strength is "decibels" or its short form, "dB". Using this accurate unit to measure signal strength, see below sketch or diagram to get a rough idea how distance affects the quality of cellular signal your cell phone receives depending upon its location from the nearest cell tower. For example, if your cell phone is showing that it has "-50 dB" signal strength, it has excellent reception. If it shows that it is receiving only "-110 dB" or less, then it is in the "cell signal dead zone". An easy way to remember is that the closer the decibel rating is towards zero, the stronger the signal strength. Want to find out how to check reception in decibels on your phone? Check out our blog post on how to put your phone into the field test mode.

How distance from cell tower affects the quality of cellular signal your cell phone receives.

Man-man signal obstructers.

Living in a metropolitan and highly developed cities and towns mean that there are highway overpasses, utility towers, bridges, gigantic buildings among others build by men and women of our country. These do have an effect on your cellular connectivity. The cell phone signal will have a problem passing through thick concrete or metal and anything else constructed using the same materials will also interfere with the coverage. Large buildings, urban structures and others easily distort or deflect the radio frequency waves. For instance, if you called inside a parking garage the signal connection will be dropped right away. Apart from metal and concrete, other construction materials weaken the signal or block it fully, from metal oxide glass, drywall, wood, masonry to shingles among others. Thus, whether inside the office in a high-rise building or at home, interferences on the cellular signal can occur any time. Only outside the building is the signal flow easy and unaffected.

Building Material 800 MHz Cellular Band 1900 MHz PCS Band
1/2" Drywall 2.03 dB 2.43 dB
Venetian Plaster 7.91 dB 16.22 dB
6" Concrete Wall 10.11 dB 19.41 dB
Glass Window 4.35 dB 4.38 dB
1/4" Fiberglass 1.62 dB 1.90 dB
Low Emission Glass Window 33.8 dB 33.8 dB
Brick 7.57 dB 14.66 dB
Solid Wooden Door 6.11 dB 12.33 dB
Hollow Wood Door 5.39 dB 10.11 dB
1/2" OSB Plywood 3.27 dB 4.91 dB
1/2" Solid Pine 2.01 dB 5.05 dB
1/2" Solid Oak 4.68 dB 6.11 dB

Common vegetation and atmospheric changes.

Not many actually know vegetation such as shrubs, trees and thick foliage distort and affect cellular signals. Anyone living in highly wooded area will most likely complain about the cellular reception and as much as trees are great for our environment and clean air, their propensity to affect cell phone signal is well documented. At the same time, changes in an atmosphere can have a huge effect on the cellular signal. Fog, rain accompanied with thunder and lightning can have a huge effect on the reception as the radio frequency signals are affected.

Vehicles and diminished signal.

A car is a contraption that is made of glass and lots of metal. There’s a chance you have experienced a bad signal or low quality reception while inside a vehicle than outside. It is actually been found through studies that your cellular signal will be diminished by 30 percent once you have entered a car.

Always note that if the cell phone signal in your office or home is very low but picks up once you go outside and you're able to enjoy a wonderful coverage, the problem is one that is localized and can be resolved easily with a cell phone signal booster. As manmade constructions increase, and more infrastructure is required to satisfy a growing population, the materials used will most likely have an effect on the cellular coverage. Boosting the signal using cell phone booster can help while inside the building, particularly weBoost 4G LTE boosters for homes, vehicles and even marine vessels such as boats while on the high seas.

Questions? Call us for a FREE product recommendation or try our automated Cell Phone Signal Booster Selector Tool. Need a cell phone booster installer? We offer installation services by a certified installing team that installs boosters nationwide across USA and Canada. Submit location details for cell phone signal booster system design & installation quote to have your amplifier kit installed by professionals.

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