Cellular Phone Reception

How Cellular Reception Works

Cell phone reception is the strength of the connection the cell phone has to its network.  There are a variety of factors that impact cellular signal, such as proximity to a tower.  Most mobile devices use a set of bars of varying heights to display the strength of the signal where the device is located.  Generally, stronger mobile phone signals are easier to obtain in an urban area, though urban areas do have some “dead zones” where a reception cannot be obtained.  Many rural or minimally inhabited areas lack a signal or have a very weak reception, many mobile phone providers are attempting to set up towers in parts of these areas most likely to be occupied by users, such as along major highways.  Even some national parks and other popular tourist destinations away from urban areas now have cell phone receptions.  The ubiquity of cellular usage is dictating where towers need to be.

There are factors beyond the presence of cellular towers that impact phone reception.  These factors can have an effect on the reception, thereby making it either stronger or weaker, or may cause complete interference.  For example, a building with thick walls may prevent a mobile phone from being used.  In addition to the construction of the facility, mirrored windows and metal blinds can prohibit good cellular reception.  Many underground areas, such as tunnels, parking garages and subway stations, lack a reception.

Dead Zones

Areas where cellular phones cannot transmit to a nearby cell site, repeater or base station are known as dead zones. Dead zones are usually areas where cell phone service is not available because the signal between the handset and the cell site antenna is blocked, usually by hilly terrain, excessive foliage, physical distance, or tall buildings.  In many cases poor reception inside buildings is impacted by topography and excessive foliage.

A number of factors can create dead zones which may exist even in locations in which carriers offer coverage, due to limitations in cellular network architecture, limited network density, interference with other cell sites, and topography. Since cell phones rely on radio waves, and radio waves travel though the air and are easily attenuated, cell phones may be unreliable at times. Like other radio transmissions, cell phone calls can be interrupted by large buildings, terrain, trees, or other objects between the phone and the nearest base station antennas.

Dropped Calls

Dropped call is the common term for a cellular call that is terminated unexpectedly as a result of technical reasons, including presence in a dead zone.  One reason for a dropped call is when the mobile phone moves out of range of a wireless network.  Another common reason is when a phone is taken into an area where wireless communication is unavailable, interrupted, interfered with, or jammed. From the network’s perspective, this is the same as the mobile moving out of the coverage area.  Occasionally calls are dropped upon handoff between cells within the same provider’s network. This may be due to an imbalance of traffic between the two cell sites’ areas of coverage. If the new cell site is at capacity, it cannot accept the additional traffic of the call trying to “hand in.” It may also be due to the network configuration not being set up properly, such that one cell site is not “aware” of the cell the phone is trying to hand off to. If the phone cannot find an alternative cell to move to that can take over the call, the call is lost.

A great amount of money and time is invested by wireless operators in order to improve the network quality of service (QOS) to acceptable values. Dropped calls along with congestion are the two most important customer perceived problems that affect the quality.  Calls can also be dropped if a mobile phone at the other end of the call loses battery power and stops transmitting abruptly.  Experiencing too many dropped calls is a common customer complaint received by wireless service providers. They have attempted to address the complaint in various ways, including expansion of their home network coverage, increased cell capacity, and offering refunds for individual dropped calls.

Various signal booster systems are manufactured to reduce problems due to dropped calls and dead zones.  Many options, such as wireless units and antennas, are intended to aid in strengthening weak signals.  Harris Communications specializes in commercial cellular reception solutions.  We offer site surveys and consultations to help clients determine what the problem is and what will be the most effective solution for a particular scenario.  You can also visit: THIS LINK and learn how to put your phone in test mode to determine your cellular reception in a given area.  Call or email Harris Communications and gain the advantages of working with industry experts.