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Top Reasons for Dropped Calls, Low Bars & Poor Signal Reception

There are numerous reasons why a user struggling with poor cell phone signal would turn to a signal booster to enhance 2G, 3G or 4G signal. The goal of this page is to answer the question, "Why do I have bad cell phone reception?" This article is designed to help you diagnose the underlying causes of your signal problems in order to find the right cell phone signal amplifier for your unique needs.

Causes of Poor Cell Phone Signal

causes of poor cell phone signalIn their early days, cell phone networks were developed to offer users a way to connect while on the go. Every home had a landline, and technological advancements in telecommunications offered a way to supplement the landline infrastructure that dominated communications.

Nobody really anticipated the extent to which cell phones and mobile applications would penetrate our every aspect of our daily lives, almost to the point of having replaced landline phones. Out of the 321.7 million wireless subscribers reported in June 2012, 35.7% lived in wireless only homes. Without landline phones, these nearly 117 million Americans rely on their cell phone networks for coverage at home, but the networks were not designed to accommodate this need.

While America's cell phone networks and mobile wireless infrastructure were built to provide users access to cell phone signal while on the road, our homes are an entirely different story. Combining that with the substantial area that mobile networks must cover, there are a few major reasons why cell phone users often receive poor signal strength. The two most common causes of poor signal strength are dead spots in signal coverage and obstructions that weaken the signal, such as a metal roof or even a forest.


Dead Spots

Have you ever walked into the store of your wireless carrier and taken a look at that big colorful map on the wall? That map shows the areas of the country that your carrier covers, and it also reveals where the service gaps occur. In our lingo, those gaps in cell phone coverage are called dead zones: areas where you will find yourself waving your phone in the air aimlessly trying to get signal. From a technical standpoint, dead spots are zones within the range of a radio transmitter where little or no radio signal can be received.

When a cell phone user encounters a dead spot, the cell phone is not able to transmit to a nearby cell tower, base station or repeater. When a cell phone enters a dead zone, the mobile phone is considered to be in a state of outage -- a period when no system is available and cell phone signal is unreachable.

Deadspots for cell phone coverage

Dead zones occur in areas where the signal between the mobile device and cell site antenna is in some way blocked. These areas include hilly terrains, excessive foliage, or physical distance. Dead spots occur because geographical locations often limit a network's ability to set up and transmit a strong signal.

The term “dead spot” does not only apply to an area without a service provider. In fact, dead spots often appear in areas where wireless carriers offer coverage. This is because even with a network subscription, the placement of antennas, limited network density, interference with other cell sites, and topography can cause weak wireless coverage and reduce your ability to get adequate cell phone signal.

Even more so, cell phone signals are not reliable at times. A phone transmits on radio waves, which are easily attenuated or significantly weakened as radio waves travel through the air. Instead of suffering with poor or no cell phone reception, a cell phone signal booster will take the weak, yet still transmitting signal and enhance or amplify it. So even if you are in an area plagued with dead spots, a cell signal booster will ensure that you don’t experience poor reception.



Obstructions happen when objects get in the way of your cell phone signal. An obstruction is an on object interferes with the quality of the cell phone signal between your mobile phone or data card and the cell tower. The blockage is caused because of the density or makeup of the structure weakens the signal as it attempts to pass through the object. The denser an object is, the more powerful a signal is needed to travel through it.

Obstructions will often cause your cell phone signal to weaken as it travels through the obstruction. In most cases, by the time that signal reaches a mobile device in the vicinity of the obstruction, the signal will already be too weak to provide the user with substantial or even usable service. Even if you are located relatively close to a cell tower, obstructions will still impair the ability of your mobile phone to connect to the network. The most effective way to solve obstruction issues is with a cell phone signal booster.


Building Materials

cell phone obstructions

For the most part, buildings are built to last. As such, the materials used during the construction are stable and dense. Thick concrete and steel significantly block cell phone signals because the makeup of the materials makes it hard for a signal to pass through.

A common example of building materials that affect cellular transmission is a building covered in steel or aluminum sheets. Steel or aluminum sheets cause an electrical ground, known as Faraday cage. A Faraday cage creates a shield that repels all radio signals because the metal causes the electric charges to be distributed such that they cancel the electrical waves inside the cage.

Another material that causes poor reception is UV reflective glazing on windows. UV reflective glazings are becoming an increasingly popular way to block ultra-violet waves that can destroy your indoor furnishings, reduce glare and increase privacy, shield you from breaking glass and protect you from solar heat. Unfortunately, however, this wonder-shield also blocks cell phone signal. Although you may have strong wireless coverage just outside the window, once inside, you will find that you have little to no reception.



Insulation is another factor that causes poor cell phone reception. Insulation prevents a signal from passing through the building. Insulation has become a problem for cell phone users as of late because technological advances have been made to insulate structures in order to keep energy costs down. While this improvement keeps energy costs lower, it is a very common cause of poor reception. In this case, a cell phone signal booster will strengthen your mobile signal, allowing the network to reach your cell phone inside the structure. There are two main types of obstructions that most cell phone users encounter. 

The first are obstructions that block a signal from reaching your structure. One way to consider how a cell signal booster solves this issue is to think of a booster as an being a signal detour. Since your signal cannot pass through the obstruction, it is best to reroute the signal. An external antenna will receive the outside signal and pass the signal via coaxial cables to the amplifier to be enhanced.


Once the signal reaches the inside of the building, an indoor antenna will transmit the signal, granting you strong cell reception. With a signal booster in place, you will once again be able to make calls, write emails, and serf the internet, eliminating the adverse effects that the object is causing  .

The second type of obstructions occurs within the structure and inhibit a signal from getting to designated area. In this case, a cell phone signal booster will take the existing signal that has been weakened by an obstruction, pass that signal from an antenna to the amplifier and enhance the

 signal, making the signal strong enough to travel through dense objects.In this way, the user in the area will be able to receive a strong signal because the obstruction no longer affects the strength of the signal.

How a Signal Booster Can Help

Do you struggle with weak cell phone signal? You aren't alone! Approximately 65% of all users are unahppy with their service. Whether it's all those dropped calls, low-to-no bars, and slow data speeds, cell phone signal boosters and cellular antennas from Wilson Electronics, Wi-Ex zBoost, and Cellphone-Mate/SureCall will enhance your signal, granting you freedom from the pains of poor cell phone service. 

How Signal Boosters Work

A cell phone signal booster provides networking solutions for any user struggling with poor reception. A cell phone signal booster works by taking an existing cell phone signal typically found outside your home, vehicle, boat, or office and amplifying that signal. Once the cell phone signal is amplified, it is then broadcast into an area that has low to no signal, providing you with powerful cell phone service at all times!

Make Sure You Have All the Components

For a cell signal to be enhanced, a cell phone signal booster kit is required (unless you already own individual parts of the kit). A cell phone signal booster kit is comprised of an external antenna, an internal antenna, a signal-boosting amplifier (sometimes the internal antenna and the signal-boosting amplifier are one unit) , and coaxial cables that run between the booster and antenna. In some cases, the cell phone amplifier and internal antenna are one unit, but typically the three components are separate.