How to Improve Cell Phone Reception

Over the past 20 years cell phone ownership has increased massively, to the point where over 80% of the world’s population has cell phone coverage. The technology needed to provide adequate signal has not kept up with demand, which is why 69% of Americans have experienced dropped calls and poor signal. However, with advances in technology there are ways to improve cell reception.

Keep in mind, poor reception is not something that your service provider will fix just because you want them to. It must be justifiably cost effective for them to put up new towers, which will ultimately be criticized by cities, home owners associations, etc. Most users think there is nothing they can do to improve their cell phone reception by themselves. This is most certainly untrue, and the following will explain what you can do to ensure great mobile coverage without waiting for a new tower to magically appear.

Steps

  1. Try to keep your battery charged to 2 bars or higher. Your cell phone uses a lot more power when connecting a call than when it is on standby. Often, your battery can be strong enough to attempt a call, but not strong enough to find a signal. If you find you are having signal problems,
  2. Try moving outside or to a window to place your call rather than making calls from deep inside buildings.Buildings and other large structures are very unfriendly to cell phone signal. If you are having reception problems on the street try walking to the nearest intersection as they typically have better coverage. Cellular band radio waves do not effectively penetrate earth: if you are underground you will likely receive no signal.
  3. Utilize a personal cell phone network extender. These devices are a new technology that creates a hybrid amplifier/repeater for personal use through smart technology to extend your cell phone’s reception. They are plug and play, can be used with almost any carrier, require no installation and actually work.
  4. Install a cellular repeater. If you are having cell problems in one location, such as your home or office, then try installing a cellular repeater. Cell phone repeaters pick up low cell signal with an antenna, boost the signal and broadcast it over the coverage area. They typically need at least 2 bars of signal where the antenna is placed (usually outside or on the roof) but can substantially improve cell reception, as well as battery life and data download speeds. Some repeaters might need technical knowledge such as the frequency of your carrier, and only work for one service provider. For a less technical approach that improves reception on all carriers, use a dual-band cell phone repeater.
  5. Upgrade your antenna. A few cell phone manufacturers make a “Hi-gain” antenna for their handsets, which may be changed in-store or by the user at home. Although these won’t improve signal as much (or at all) as a repeater these antennas are relatively inexpensive and you are not confined to one location.
  6. Change networks. Most networks operate independently of one another, using their own frequencies and constructing their own cell phone towers. Chances are if the signal is bad with one network you can improve by switching. Most cellular networks these days allow you to transfer your phone number when you change provider.
  7. Hold your phone correctly. Mobile phone antennas are designed to project a signal outward, perpendicular to the long axis of the antenna. As such, mobile phones seek signals in a donut-esque shape around the antenna. Normally, when a mobile is held upright, this is not a problem. However, if you are holding your phone in a strange way, such as on its side or upside down, you will hinder the operation of the antenna. Hold your phone upright to guarantee that your phone can “see” your carrier signal. On most newer phones the antenna is located at the bottom of the phone, so if you are experiancing signal problems on a newer phone turning it upside down will boost your signal.
  8. Host a cell site. This may take time, but where cell phone reception is inadequate property owners can host small cell sites on their properties for major wireless carriers. 3rd parties with Wireless Revenue Programs allow you to register your property to be eligible. Then when there is carrier interest in the area you’ll be on the short list of places they choose from and will have optimal coverage. They may even pay your phone bill.
  9. Use Wi-Fi as your cell phone signal. Make calls and connect to internet from your phone as normally you would. If your mobile phone supports UMA, you can use the wi-fi as your cellphone signal where you don’t get GSM signal coverage or areas with poor coverage. Not all devices and carriers support UMA calls. There are some blackberry and androids and few other phones that support.

Tips

  • Weather: Arid, High humidity and lightning can all cause a reduction in cell signal. If the weather is dry your only option may be a Rain dance.
  • Battery Life When a phone can’t find a good signal, it searches. The phone uses a lot of power to do this, which is why having poor signal will drain your battery. Those who have forgotten to turn off their phone on an airplane understand this well. If you have a cell phone building repeater, you will notice that your battery seems to last forever, because it never has to look for a signal, it always has the best possible one available.
  • Car Amplifiers If you wish to boost your cell phone reception in your car, you will need a mobile signal booster with a 12v or cigarette lighter adapter.
  • Wireless Signal Booster You can also boost your cell phone signal buy using a non-electrical, wireless mobile signal booster.
  • If all else fails, switch your service provider.

Warnings

  • Avoid any solutions that involve a $5 (or equally cheap) patch you stick on or in your phone. These are invariably useless and will not improve your cell reception. These are usually calledInternal Cell Phone Boosters but are nothing more than a waste of money. (some evidence gained by research through non-profits suggests otherwise. But then again, why wouldn’t phone manufacturers just include them?)
  • This is a reasonably comprehensive list of ways to improve cell phone signal, but there is a chance that none of these will work. If you are one of the 20% with no signal at all, you could always go back to writing a letter or sending smoke signals.
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This entry was posted on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 at 9:53 pm and is filed under Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.