Posted on January 12, 2017

Monitoring Cell Signal Quality Based on Performance, Not Bars

Michael Copeland

Commercial Support Manager

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Monitoring Cell Signal QualityWhether it’s for phone calls, texting, internet surfing or streaming, we’ve all become accustomed to relying on our cell phones for connectivity. But what happens when we drop calls or the latest episode of our favorite show continually buffers? The first thing we look at are the signal bars on our phone.

Unfortunately, those bars mean very little. There’s no standard for what a bar represents or whether it measures your 4G data or 3G voice performance. Additionally, the number of bars can vary based on how you hold your phone, your phone manufacturer, your carrier and even the previous activity on your phone.

Rethinking Cellular Performance

If you’ve noticed dropped calls and dead zones in your office or home and are considering a cell phone signal booster, it might be time to recalibrate how you measure and judge signal strength. Rather than looking at how many bars your phone displays,  think purely about performance. After all, you just want your phone to work. Whether it displays three or five bars shouldn’t make any difference.

So, what should you look for? Increased call clarity and fewer or no dropped calls are just two objective ways to judge how your phone performs. Likewise for data speeds, look for less buffering when streaming video or music, and increased download speeds.

With a cell phone signal booster, you could see all of these performance enhancements with an increase of just one bar.

Alternative Cellular Performance Measurement

If you want to continue monitoring cellular signal strength, there are a few alternative ways to do so.

Both Android and Apple iOS phones provide “Field Test Mode” options to test for signal strength and will present signal strength in decibels rather than bars (The closer the number is to 0, the stronger the signal). Anything better than -85 decibels is considered a usable signal and cell phone signal boosters regularly provide signal strength of -70 decibels or better.

For data speeds, certain mobile apps like Speedtest can give you a more accurate reading on the performance of mobile cellular connections including LTE, 4G and 3G.

However, working with a professional to conduct a site survey with a signal meter is still the most comprehensive performance test. A signal meter detects and displays signal frequency, bandwidth, and strength with total certainty, and also updates in real time.

Ultimately, performance is still at the mercy of your carrier and the capacity of the nearest tower. If the tower has exceeded its capacity, you could still suffer from dropped calls or slower data speeds.

As for what’s within your power to control, one of the best ways to ensure optimal performance is with a cell phone signal booster, also known as a passive distributed antenna system (DAS). WilsonPro cell signal boosters help improve mobile network access in businesses and large homes.

Contact us to learn more about how WilsonPro signal boosters can help you improve cell phone signal strength. Or, download our Buyer's Guide to understand which wireless signal solutions are best for your business.