What Causes Dropped Calls and How Can They Be Prevented?
Cell phones have come a long way from the early days of the Motorola DynaTAC (aka, the brick), and even the flip phone, which at one time represented the cutting edge of cell phone tech. Today, the majority of Americans — 95 percent — own a cell phone, and 77 percent of those are smartphones. And many consumers shell out big bucks to have top-of-the-line devices. But no matter what type of phone you’re using or what carrier network you’re on, you probably still experience dropped calls from time to time.
Frustrating but true, dropped calls can still happen everywhere. You don’t have to be out in the middle of nowhere to experience the frustration of a dropped call. It can happen inside of your house, in your car, in a downtown parking garage, or inside of your office. So, what gives? With all the advancements we’ve seen in devices, the LTE network and the looming promises of a 5G world, why are we still dealing with dropped calls?
Here are the main reasons why calls are dropped:
- We’re doing more with our phones. Of the 95 percent of Americans that own a cell phone, 77 percent have a smartphone. Gone are the days when we were simply using our phones to call and text. Today our phones are our lifeline to family, friends and business. We rely on them for camera, email, file uploading and downloading, media streaming, and the repository for countless gigabyte-sucking games and apps. That means that our phones are working harder and they’re not just connecting for voice calls. This demand on both device and network is a contributor to dropped calls, and to slower upload and download speeds.
- Building materials. Just about every building material used in historical and even modern buildings can hamper cell signal. Brick, concrete, and steel are notorious signal killers. That’s because the radio frequency signals required to connect cellular calls cannot easily filter through these materials and therefore signal waves are deflected or distorted. Even glass — and particularly newer LEED-certified, energy-efficient windows — deflect signal because of their metal-oxide coating.
- Carrier frequency. In some cases, you cellular carrier’s frequency can be the cause of dropped called in certain locations. That’s why you will sometimes find that your signal is dropped while someone else that may be standing in the same spot still has service or vice versa. This disparity typically has nothing to do with your cellular device but instead is based on the fact that two different carriers can be using different frequencies. There are several frequencies that are used by carriers, ranging from 800 megahertz up to 2100 MHz. The higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength.
- User demand on networks and cell towers. There about 326 million people in the United States. Based on the earlier statistic that 95 percent of the population owns a cell phone, it’s easy to see that keeping up with network demand will likely remain a challenge for cellular providers for some time to come. As an example of network demand, consider what happens when a large amount of people convene in one space for a conference, concert or sporting event. With hundreds or thousands of people competing for signal to make calls, send texts, or upload and download photos or files, it can be nearly impossible to get a strong signal.
- Signal strength. Cell phone signal strength is measured in decibels (dBm), and these signals can range from approximately -30 dBm to -110 dBm. The closer that number is to zero, the stronger the cell signal. Anything better than -85 decibels is considered good signal strength. Many cell phone owners rely on the bars displayed on their mobile device as an indication of the signal strength they’re receiving, but those bars are not an accurate measure in reality. That’s because the number of bars will vary based on your carrier, phone manufacturer, or even the way you hold your phone. The best way to determine your location’s actual signal strength is to obtain a reading from a professional that can use a signal meter to test signal frequency, bandwidth, and strength.
How to fix poor cell signal
While dropped calls can be frustrating, there is a solution. If there is a specific area, or areas, where you are dropping calls, the signal can be improved with a cellular signal booster. Cell signal boosters use existing strong cell signal, capture it and amplify it by as much as 32 times to improve service where you need it most.
These boosters are passive distributed antenna systems that place antennas and amplifiers in different areas to capture strong signal and make it accessible to you. Passive DAS works regardless of the carrier network supplying a signal. These carrier-agnostic systems can be installed quickly and cost effectively. If you’d like to learn more about how a passive DAS cell signal booster can help you improve signal and eliminate the frustration of dropped calls, contact WilsonPro today. We offer a number of solutions for both residential and commercial customers, including the Pro 1050 dual-amplifier system and the Pro 70 Plus line of boosters.