How to Tell If You Have Good Cell Phone Signal Strength?
Anyone who steps inside your commercial building will automatically expect easy access to reliable cell phone signal coverage. If staff, tenants, or visitors to your building experience dropped or disconnected calls or are unable to go online to conduct their business, it is time for you to take a closer look at how to measure good, reliable cellular phone signal strength in your building. A quick and easy method to check signal strength of a specific carrier network is by turning on the Field Test Mode in the smartphone with that carrier's working SIM card. For professional site survey, recommendations, and details of needed indoor cellular coverage system, SignalBooster.com, the best cellular booster installer for companies can help.
Since cell phones have become vitally important to both individuals and businesses, it is really important that you have strong and reliable signal strength available in your commercial building. People depend on the ability to reliably send or receive data transmissions and to access good signal strength to conduct seamless conversations without having dropped or interrupted calls. When you provide a strong cellular phone signal in your commercial building, device users can conduct their business over the phone without having to consider call stability or quality.
If your aim is to provide your employees, customers, and visitors with reliable cellular signal to ensure their mobile devices can be used in your building, then you need to understand exactly what defines good signal strength and how to go about determining whether it is available in your commercial building.
Defining Good Cellular Phone Signal Strength.
How can I accurately measure cellular signal?
Cellular signal is accurately measured using dBms (decibel milliwatts), expressed as a negative number. The measurement usually falls into a range spanning from between -30 dBm and -120dBm. The closer the number is to zero, the stronger the cellular signal is.
Therefore, -75 dBm represents a stronger signal than -100 dBm. Most users would not be able to access a signal stronger than -50 dBm, and keep in mind that any signal stronger than -85 dBm is considered strong and usable. On other hand, if your signal is weaker than -110 dBm, it is going to be very challenging and you will probably experience incomplete data transmissions and lots of dropped calls.
The proof of good cellular phone signal strength in commercial or residential buildings will typically include the following:
- Few, or no dropped calls.
- Call clarity.
- Minimal buffering.
- Fast upload and download speeds.
Wondering What the Signal Bars on Your Cell Phone Mean?
At one time or another you have probably tried to make a phone call in an unfamiliar location and failed, so you checked your phone to see how many bars are displaying. When bars are still displayed, it is confusing as to why you cannot successfully make a phone call.
Why does this occur? This occurs because the signal bars on your cell phone are not a precise measurement of signal strength.
Why aren’t they accurate? Unfortunately, there's no industry standard governing the signal strength bars on mobile phones. The bars on your phone are simply a "rough indication" at best, of the strength of cellular signal – they are not an absolute value.
In addition to this problem, with every phone manufacturer using their own algorithm to measure signal strength, signal bars between brands can vary significantly. This means that "you may think" a particular brand and model phone has a better antenna because it shows more bars than another beside it, that is not necessarily the case.
What does this mean? It means that your phone may be displaying two bars and receive a stronger signal than another phone that is displaying three bars. It could even be that your phone is displaying four bars, yet you receive no signal at all. Its is a wildcard as far as actual signal strength hitting the phone.
Determining Cellular signal Strength in Buildings.
With an active connection, both Android and Apple iOS devices have the ability to accurately measure cellular signal strength. Using their hidden Field Test Mode, you can conduct a thorough site survey by recording readings of signal strength in and around your building. This can be very useful if you're trying to determine the value of purchasing a signal booster for your property. Turning on the Field Test Mode is very easy, but instructions do vary according to the make and model of your device.
- Android Phones.
If you're an Android mobile phone user and you wish to initiate Field Test Mode, go to Settings and select "About Phone". Depending on the model of your Android phone, the signal strength will be located under "Status" or "Network". Also, look under "Network Type" to find your network generation, meaning 3G, 4G, 5G, etc. Yes, this tool helps detect 5G signal strength as well, if you have 5G phone and if your carrier offers 5G in your area.
Turn off Wi-Fi on your iPhone before accessing the Field Test Mode. Open "Settings" to turn off Wi-Fi, select Wi-Fi, and change it to Wi-Fi = Off. This will allow you to see which network you're connected to, meaning 3G, 4G, 5G, etc. Yes, Apple iPhone can also detect 5G signal strength like Androids do, if your model is 5G capable, and your carrier offers 5G where you are at that moment.
Because LTE signals might be measured in a different way to those of earlier generations, we suggest you also turn LTE off.
How to turn LTE off?
iOS 9.3 and above:
Go to "Settings", choose "Cellular", "Cellular Data Options", then Enable "LTE". Now switch LTE to Off.
iOS 9.2 or below:
Go to "Settings", choose "Cellular", then Enable "LTE". Now switch LTE to OFF.
Next, pull up your phone's keypad and dial iPhone field test mode code: *3001#12345#*. Launch Field Test Mode by pressing Call. You should now be looking at a negative number (not the traditional signal bars). The number you're looking at is a decibel (dBm) reading of your signal strength. You should also be able to see the name of your carrier like Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T or Sprint and the network "type".
You may see the words "Back to Phone", in some newer iOS versions. If that occurs, simply hold the Power button down. Release the button when you see "Slide to Power Off". Next, press and hold the Home button until you're returned to the main screen. Now you should be able to see your phone's signal strength in decibels. Simply reboot your smartphone to exit this permanent Field Test Mode.
Other Types of Mobile Phones.
There're other mobile devices that also provide Field Test Mode. Check your instruction manual or manufacturer's website for further information on how to launch Field Test Mode on your particular smart phone brand and model.
Regardless of whether you have an Android, Apple, or other brand of mobile phone, you may find that your App store has options for determining signal strength in decibels. Search for "Cell Signal" to discover if apps are available for your phone.
How To Take Signal Strength Readings.
Move to the site where you need to take signal readings and wait for 30 to 60 seconds for your phone to get a signal. You will now be able to read the signal strength, in addition to the network type (3G, 4G, 5G, LTE, etc.) and the carrier. It is important that you note the network type as well as the signal strength to ensure a professional installer will be able to access your survey results with absolute accuracy.
Conducting a survey of your property means repeating this process in various areas of your grounds and around your building. Note that the signal readings you record on your phone will only be relevant to your individual carrier. You will need multiple phones each with different carrier's service to detect other carrier networks. Or you can get a RF Spectrum Analyzer to check all carrier network signal strengths, simultaneously.
Alternatively, you might choose to consult with SignalBooster.com professional installer, who will use a high-performance signal meter to carry out a comprehensive site survey on your property. These devices accurately detect and display strength, frequency, and bandwidth of cellular signals.
Why Do I Have Poor Signal Strength?
There're a number of conditions that can cause poor signal reception like high network traffic, distance from cell towers, physical obstructions like buildings, and severe weather.
High Network Traffic: Extreme usage of cell phones and other devices in densely populated urban areas can cause poor signal strength resulting in slow data transfer, especially during peak hours. More importantly, this can happen during local and national emergencies when high number of people are calling their loves ones and friends to make sure they are okay or for help.
Distance from Cell Towers: If you’re experiencing poor cellular reception it could be that you're just too far away from nearest cell tower. The result can be very weak or totally undetectable signal.
Physical Obstructions: It is important to understand that "line of sight" is required for a strong and consistent cellular signal. This means that almost any object can be the cause of blocked cellular signal. Find out what blocks cellular signals the most (and by how much)?
Objects that block may also be natural or man-made, like the following:
- The Terrain: Mountains, hills, bluffs, and ridges can all affect signal strength.
- Building Materials: Concrete, brick, steel, fiberglass insulation, wood, and even glass can have a negative effect on signal strength.
- Vehicles: All types of transportation like buses, cars, trucks, RVs etc. can block cellular signal, making it difficult to receive a reliable signal while on the go.
- The Weather: Conditions like heavy cloud cover, high humidity, electrical storms, snow, and high winds can all reduce the transmission of cellular signal.
- Vegetation: Shrubbery, dense foliage, and heavily forested areas can all hinder cell phone reception by blocking the necessary RF signals.
- Dust: Did you know that even dust particles floating in the air can reduce the transmission of cellular signal?
How Is It Possible to Boost Cellular Signals?
Fortunately, if your building has a signal strength weaker than -85 dBm, a Passive Distributed Antenna System (also known as DAS) can capture and amplify the existing cellular signal. A Passive DAS can boost signal strength to -70 dBm, or even more, providing a cost-effective resolution to poor signal strength. With a DAS installed, you will achieve improved connectivity inside all large and commercial buildings.
Advantages of a Dual-Amplifier Passive DAS System.
As described above, a passive DAS could well be the perfect solution for business’s wanting to improve cellular reception in their building; however, due to the use of coaxial cables, there could be some signal loss.
This issue can be resolved with a dual-amplifier configuration. By pairing a primary signal booster with a supplementary inline booster, this design compensates for signal lost over lengthy cables. The result is optimal signal boosting for the building.
Best Installers of DAS Cellular Signal Boosters.
Wide variety of DAS signal boosters are available to improve cellular connectivity in your building – regardless of the carrier you use. SignalBooster.com's signal boosting systems service both large and small locations right throughout North America. If you require further information on our DAS solutions, please contact us for a DAS demonstration or to arrange a DAS Site Survey of your property.
If you have any questions or if we can help in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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