As cell phone usage became ubiquitous, it became important to have good network coverage. Despite this, we occasionally come across dead zones and areas with spotty coverage in suburbans and villages. This is because network operators focus on building better coverage in urban areas. One of the best ways to ensure good cellular connectivity is to use a cell phone service booster at your home, office, or commercial establishment. In this article, we will focus on the factors affecting cell phone signal strength and coverage.
Factors Affecting Cell Phone Signal Strength
The distance from the cellular tower can affect the cell phone signal strength, the farther you are from the tower, the weaker the signal and vice versa. Also, a clear line of sight between your phone and the cellular tower ensures good connectivity, anything coming in between can affect reception. It includes the earth’s curvature, i.e.horizontal distance of more than 100km affects the service range. Apart from this, geographical obstacles like mountains, hills, large buildings, etc. coming in the line of sight affect signal quality.
The presence of thick foliage reduces cellular signal strength, and this is because the water inside plants is rich with mineral ions that’s a good conductor of electricity. So, when cellular signals come across trees or plants, it gets scattered and this reduces the signal strength. However, the presence of cool water bodies has the opposite effect, i.e. increasing the range of cellular towers through the phenomenon of temperature inversion. Here a layer of cool air forms above the relatively warm water body, and this increases the reception range of cellular signals.
Factors like temperature, humidity, and wind affect cellular signal strength, and this is very much noticeable on days with bad weather.
Rain: High atmospheric water content lowers cellular signal strength because of the phenomenon of scattering. These droplets of water have ions that are good conductors of electricity, and they scatter cellular signals. Also, the degree of scattering is directly proportional to the atmospheric water content.
Clouds And Fog: The effect of fog and clouds on cellular signal strength is similar to that of rain. The effect also depends on the frequency of the cellular signal, and it will not be an issue if the frquency is less than 2000 gigahertz.
Snow And Hail: The effect of snow and hail is less prominent compared to rain. This is because their density is less as water is in the solidified form, i.e. in crystal form. Because of this, the degree of refraction is less, but a heavy snowfall or hail might disrupt cellular signals.
Lightning: During thunderstorms, the atmosphere has a higher density of charged particles called ions. They cause electrical interference, and the ions in water droplets scatter cellular signals reducing cellular signal strength.
Wind And Temperature: They do not affect cellular signals directly but through the changes in humidity levels and atmospheric ions in the air. Wind can also damage exposed cellular towers and disrupt connectivity. However, there are cases where the phenomenon of temperature inversion has extended the range of a cellular tower. Here a layer of cool air is trapped above a layer of warm air, and this creates atmospheric ducts. So, if a cellular tower is located inside such an atmospheric duct, the radio signal bounces over longer distances.
The materials used for constructing homes, offices, and other such structures significantly affects cellular signal strength or reception.
Glass: Clear glass have the effect of bouncing off cellular signals, and there is the misconception that locations such as windows give better access to signal. This effect becomes more prominent, especially for double insulated windows. Generally, the cellular signal blockage due to glass windows can reach up to -4dB. So, the best option is to open them for better cellular reception.
Sheetrock: Sheetrock, also known as drywall, is used to add fire resistance so that people can evacuate safely during an emergency. This material partially blocks the cellular signal, and if the signal strength is already weak, it can cut-off cellular reception. Also, the fluctuations are generally in the range of -2dB for 3G,4G, and 5G signals. Moreover, this will have a significant impact on 5G signals because they have lower penetration due to their higher frequency.
Brick: The bricks used for constructing homes and offices significantly impacts cellular signal strength, and this is directly proportional to the thickness of the wall. In addition, the mortar used for binding bricks blocks cellular signals, and this combined with supplementary materials like sheetrock deteriorates signal strength further.
Metal: Metal components used in construction like the roofs, mesh wires, metal walls, metal studs, etc., disrupt cellular signals. The drop in signal strength varies between -32dB to -50Db, and this degree of loss can create dead zones. This is one of the big reasons you have bad reception inside huge metal warehouses.
One of the best ways to improve cellular signal reception due to the aforementioned factors is to use a cellular signal booster. However, you should bear in mind that the output signal depends on the quality of the input signal, i.e. the cellular signal strength in the area.