Pretty much all of us have cell phones, and we expect to be able to use our cell phone wherever we go – home, office, school, the commute between, shopping, the gym, restaurants and bars, the park.
You name it. Wherever we go, we expect our phones to work.
So when we are in a place that has no or poor cell reception, we often get incredibly frustrated because we’re accustomed to having a connection and now we don’t.
Years ago we thought bad cell reception was limited to rural locations that weren’t covered by enough cell towers.
But now we know it also happens right in the middle of urban areas, thanks to all the obstacles that block cell signals from reaching our phones.
We all have a certain spot – someplace we have lousy cell reception, or maybe no reception at all.
Maybe for you that spot is your home. Everyone hates having bad cell signal. So here are our best tips to improve your cell reception at home.
Some simple suggestions
If you have a case on your phone, try taking it off to see if the signal improves. Also, pay attention to how you hold your phone when make a call. Be sure you’re not inadvertently blocking your device’s internal antenna.
And keep your phone battery charged up. A low battery can negatively affect your phone’s ability to get and hang onto a cell signal.
Requiring some effort
1. Go outside. Building materials like brick, siding, stucco and even coated ‘energy-efficient’ glass block cell signals. So to get better reception, just step outside. By reducing the obstructions between your phone and the cell tower, your reception will usually improve.
2. Find the nearest cell tower. When you know where the cell tower is located, you know which direction your signal is coming from. Once you know that, you can experiment to locate better signal inside your home. For example, move to the side of your home nearest the tower to see if your cell reception is better there.
3. Change location to see if reception is better. In the previous point we hinted that cell signal strength is not uniform throughout buildings, including your home. So even if you don’t know where the nearest cell tower is, you can move to another room of the house to see if the signal is better there. Or try your call next to a window, where signal may (but not always!) better penetrate the exterior walls of your home.
4. Increase your elevation. We already pointed out that anything between you and the cell tower can block the signal. So move to the top floor of your home. A higher location reduces the chance of obstructions blocking the cell signal. If you live in an apartment building you can even go up to the roof to try your call.
5. Try Wifi calling. Admittedly this doesn’t do anything to increase your cell signal, but it may improve your calling capability. All newer smartphones allow native Wifi calling and texting, which is supported by all major U.S. cell carriers. There also are a bunch of messaging apps now for audio and video calling. So if you have solid Wifi coverage in your home, the Wifi network can be a perfectly good substitute for the spotty cellular network.
6. Switch to 3G. Turn off your LTE service to see if you can get a better connection and improved coverage by using the 3G network, or perhaps even the 2G network where it’s available. How you turn off 4G service varies by carrier and phone model. A ‘how to turn off 4G’ Web search will return plenty of results.
7. If all else fails, invest in a signal-amplifying device. There are two main types: the femtocell (or microcell) and the cell phone signal booster. Both produce stronger cell signal and both are government-certified (by the FCC in the U.S. and IC in Canada) but they use different technology. Before you buy make sure you understand how a device works and that it will meet your needs.
Femtos actually create a localized cell signal in your home. They required a broadband Internet connection. Voice and data traffic is moved over the Internet to your femto, which transfers the traffic to the cell signal it generates so your phone can pick it up.
These are typically sold by your phone carrier and will work only with that carrier’s network. Femtos have other limitations so be sure you know what you’re getting before you buy.
Conversely, cell signal boosters do not create a signal. Rather, they collect and amplify existing cell signal, then redistribute the amplified signal inside your home so your phone picks it up. So to use a signal booster you must have an available cell signal outside your home.
Boosters typically work with multiple carriers and they don’t require an Internet connection. They are manufacturer and sold by third-party companies like Wilson Electronics.