One of the many things the past 18 months have taught us is that being able to stay in touch with your family, friends and colleagues is more important than ever, and not everyone can guarantee a phone signal. great no matter where they are.
Some rural areas have little or no cell coverage at all, and you can only guarantee good reception in towns and cities. So if you’re in one of those places where you have to run upstairs and lean out of the window when someone calls, here are some things you can try to combat poor cell reception.
Before you do anything drastic like flushing a lot of money into a signal booster, try these tips.
One possible cause of poor signal is your phone. Long before smartphones, some handsets had external antennas but today they are all internal. Placing a case on your phone (especially a metal case) can seriously affect the performance of your device’s antenna, just like you “wrong” holding the phone, like Steve Job made a famous claim, when iPhone 4 users complained in the ‘Antenna’ problem.
There’s some truth to Jobs’ claim, but it really comes down to a combination of factors, if you’re looking to maximize your chances of getting a better reception.
Temporarily removing the phone case, holding the phone so it doesn’t block the antenna line, and even going to the highest room in the house (while facing the cell tower closest to you, if possible) can improve your performance. significantly improve signal strength.
Where is your nearest tower? If you are in the UK you can check out the Column Data website which will show you a map with the column locations and to which network they belong. Interesting stuff… if you’re a geek.
Poor cell signal? Use WiFi instead
Most UK households have broadband that’s fast enough to call over Wi-Fi. There’s really no difference between making a Skype or WhatsApp call versus what most mobile operators call ‘WiFi calling’. It is simply a phone call using the internet instead of the cell phone network. Any calls you make using WiFi calling will still count towards your mobile plan’s minutes allowed.
You can check if your mobile service provider offers WiFi calling, but it’s important that your phone also supports it. If one or both turns out to be incompatible, it’s obvious to use a VoIP client (like Skype) instead. Skype is available for most phones and is completely free, as long as you are calling another Skype user.
Chances are the person you want to call already has a Skype account, but if not, it’s quick and easy to create one, install the app, sign in, and receive (or make) phone calls over WiFi. .
Sometimes you can’t check if the other person has Skype, but fortunately, the service also allows you to make real phone calls. This is useful if you have a poor signal and your recipients are not willing to install Skype – or asking them to install it is not appropriate; such as if you are calling a business or customer service center.
Of course, there are plenty of alternatives to Skype, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Google Duo, and FaceTime. All of these services allow you to make voice or video calls using a WiFi connection, so if you’re chatting with someone using one of those services, you can also call them over WiFi from within the app. you choose.
All major UK networks offer Wi-Fi calling:
O2 allows owners of certain handsets (most recent iPhone, Samsung, Pixel and Sony, as well as some other devices listed by the carrier) to make WiFi and 4G calls without use a specific application.
EE offers WiFi calling, but only to pay customers monthly and only on certain phones.
Vodafone provide WiFi calling only supports certain phones.
Three also supports Wi-Fi calling on compatible phones.
Change to another mobile network
This may sound extreme, but if you regularly experience terrible cell signals at home, consider switching to another provider. Switching is surprisingly easy (you can now text to switch networks), and it’s also easy to keep your existing number.
To find out if another network offers a better cell signal, you can use their respective coverage test tool. Each will tell you if the signal is good outdoors as well as indoors under any UK postcode.
If you want an independent opinion on the signal levels of each operator in your area, visit opensignal.com – there are also mobile apps for Android and iOS (RootMetrics has a checker). Checking your own standalone coverage is also worth a try).
However, there is an even better way: just request a free premium SIM from the carrier and try it for a month on your backup phone (or even in your primary phone). Sure, you’ll have to pay a few costs, but this is a small price to pay to find out which network offers strong cellular coverage in your area.
Most SIMs these days are all-in-ones, so you can pop out the size you need for your phone. You’ll have to use your new SIM phone number to try it out, but at least you’ll know for sure if the coverage is significantly better than your old carrier.
If not, try another provider until you find the one with the best signal.
You may also want to check out our best SIM-only deals.
Cell phone signal booster
If you don’t want to change networks and can’t rely on WiFi calling, a signal booster can help.
They are also known as ‘femtocells’, however, be careful what you buy. As you will see on Ofcom’s website, most signal boosters are used illegally.
You can approach your mobile carrier and ask if they supply (or sell you) boosters/repeaters, but we realize that unless you are a contract customer, monthly coins, they tend not to be very useful. if you do end up paying for a booster from your own pocket, they can cost anywhere from £70 up to £600 and there’s no guarantee they’ll solve your problem.
If you continue down this route, we recommend using the option provided by your network operator instead of purchasing a box from a third party. Just because a website is called “o2signalbooster.co.uk” doesn’t mean it is an official supplier for O2 signal boosters. Also, you may not return it to such sites for a refund.
Here are links where you can learn more about the options offered by three of the UK’s four main networks:
Most of these devices generate cellular signals using your home broadband, while others repeat/amplify weak signals.
With increased WiFi calling support and improved network coverage, Vodafone discontinued Boostbox services in September 2021 and, therefore, no longer sells them; Only provide support to existing customers.
EE will also close the Signal Box service on June 30, 2022. All existing boxes will be shut down on this date.
Create your own mobile network
Depending on your needs, a final (and somewhat unorthodox) option is goTenna Mesh. These portable devices are designed primarily for hiking but will work anywhere with poor signal and allow you to create a mini-network for communication.
Sold in packages of two, four or eight, you simply pair each goTenna with your phone via Bluetooth and then can send encrypted messages (though not voice calls) between the devices, as long as is that they are within range – up to four miles of open terrain, and half a mile or so in more congested urban environments. You can also use devices to create a relay, extending the range with each device.
Obviously, this won’t be the ideal solution for everyone with low signal, but it could be perfect for those who want to reliably communicate with friends and family living near them in the area. rural or other low signal areas; or anyone hoping to plan a visit to a low signal area, such as a hike or a festival weekend. You can purchase a package directly from goTenna.
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