Cellular phones play a big role in our daily interactions with people, as well as in outdoor activities. Their performance is dictated mainly by the quality of network coverage as most of the services in the form of apps require uninterrupted data services, and this is especially true in this age of 4G. The best way to ensure this is to use a mobile network booster. Its performance depends on the outside signal, which is affected by the weather. In this article we will explore how weather affects cellular signals; read on to know more.
The Cellular Signal
Cellular signals are radio waves used for various communication purposes. They can be used for sending data like texts, voice, images, videos, etc., and their data-carrying capacity is directly proportional to the frequency. The frequencies range from 700 to 2,600 megahertz, and they belong to the UHF band. These waves travel from the source, i.e. the cellular tower to your device, and the path traversed by the signal is called the line of sight. It is affected by the earth’s curvature, obstructed by geographical features like hills, buildings, forests, as well as atmospheric conditions.
The range of a cellular tower is also affected by the number of frequencies available to a cell service provider. This is because there are only a finite number of frequencies available for commercial cellular communication. So, cell service providers must ensure that the signals transmitted from their tower do not interfere with those emitted by another. Furthermore, the distance between the cellular tower and mobile phone is the major reason for issues like dropped calls, low call quality, spotty calls, etc.
In urban areas, cellular towers transmit moderately powerful signals to cover the required distance, as well as to ensure that they do not interfere with signals from other carriers. But, in rural or remote areas that are served less by carriers, cellular towers send more powerful signals that can travel several miles. In optimal environmental conditions, with a clear line of sight, a cellular phone can communicate with a tower located at even 45 miles away. But in real-world situations, this can only be up to 22 miles or fewer. Also, you must know that the power of cellular signals halves when the distance is doubled.
The Effect Of Water On Cellular Signals
The Ultra High Frequency (UHF) waves used for cellular communication is affected by water. This is because water droplets in the atmosphere are good conductors of electricity; they either reflect or absorb the radio waves lowering its strength. When cellular signals are absorbed by water droplets, the absorbed energy is dissipated as heat; this is like the process happening inside microwave ovens. Often, cellular signals are deflected than being absorbed, and this depends on the angle of incidence of the wavefront on the water droplet. The deterioration in cellular network connectivity, especially during rainy days is due to these two effects of water on radio waves.
The Effect Of Temperature On Cellular Signals
Atmospheric temperature affects cellular signals because of the corresponding changes in humidity levels. So, a change in temperature alone will not affect the coverage of cellular networks. However, the atmospheric phenomenon called temperature inversion increases the range of a cellular tower. This happens when a layer of warm air is formed above a layer of cold air creating ducts. When radio waves from a tower enter it, they bounce up and down along it and travel farther than their normal range. This bouncing off effect inside the duct is due to the difference in refractive index between the warm and cold layers of the air. However, short UHF transmission is not very much affected by this because they are not typically bounceable.
Real World Atmospheric Conditions Affecting Cellular Signals
Rain: Rain significantly deteriorates cellular signals because of the effect of water on radio waves. The more intense the rain, the greater the loss in signal strength and vice versa. So, if your cellular network connectivity is already bad, then weather phenomena like thunderstorms might create dead zones.
Cloud And Fog: The water droplet size in fog and clouds is smaller than rain, hence there is more number of smaller droplets. Also, the effect of fog on radio waves depends on its frequency. It does not affect frequencies below 2,000 gigahertz, but its effect is significant if the frequency is above this value.
Snow: The effect of snow on cellular signals is less because of its lower density; ice is less dense than water. But heavy snowfall can cause a certain amount of cellular signal attenuation.
Wind: Like temperature, the wind has no direct effect on cellular signals, but it affects them due to the changes it brings to humidity levels.
One of the ideal solutions to reduce the effect of atmospheric factors on cellular reception at home or office is to use a signal booster. These devices receive weak cellular signals, amplifies them, and retransmits to your phone. Also, they can boost the signal send from your phone to the cellular tower as well.