Are you looking for ways to solve your Cell Phone Dead Spot problems? Unfortunately, Dead spots are the curse of cell phone users in the US. Surprisingly, 50 percent of cell phone users lack seamless coverage from their carrier. In 2010 alone, there were 50,000 dead zone complaints filed by users with their carrier or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC); and in the past couple years their number has only increased astronomically. “These areas are U.S. Census blocks that lack 3G or better mobile coverage at the centroid of the block“, says the FCC. The FCC says 18 million Americans “still have no high-speed Internet“, and millions live, work and travel in areas without mobile broadband coverage. Perhaps, it is time people start finding ways to amplify and boost their cell phone signals.
At a point when the world is talking about the future of mobility, for the over 20 million people living in the greater New York area, spotty cellular service is a constant source of frustration. And surprisingly Carriers deserve only part of the blame. Too many people. Too many buildings. Too much reflective glass. Too much water. Each plays a role. It all adds up to wireless dead zones dotting the city and its surrounding suburbs, making phone calls impossible in some unlucky neighborhoods, across stretches of highways and at crucial junctures on rail lines.
What Causes The Worst Cellphone Dead Zones?
Simply put, a cell phone network is divided into cell sites that serves an area and overlaps with other cell sites to give 360 degree coverage. The dead spot phenomenon cell phone owners experience is caused by several factors:
- Geography: Cell phones use RF energy to transmit signals and it is line of sight transmission. An area’s topography is a major cause of cell phone dead zones. Mountains block signals and other variations in terrain will interrupt the signal.
- Cell tower location: Cell phone service providers locate and erect towers in cell sites to transmit calls and data. The tower’s antenna array is designed to transmit the RF signal within the cell to other towers or directly to cell phones. Poor location or too few towers can create dead spots.
- Rural areas: The number and location of towers in rural areas determines the strength of call and data signals. Poorly located or an insufficient number of cell towers result in weaker signals and dead spots.
- Urban areas: Metropolitan areas usually have plenty of towers and location becomes critical. Buildings can block signals — even inside a building. Heavy cell phone traffic generated by users in urban areas also creates reception problems. Overloaded networks can interrupt service and degrade service — creating dead zones.
- Weather: Severe weather, rain and lightening adversely affect reception. Even solar storms from the sun — billions of miles away — can interfere with signal transmission.
- Competing cellphone technologies: There are of two different technologies for transmitting cell phone calls and data. In the U.S., the most used method is Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA); the other format is Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM). Unfortunately, the two systems are incompatible. Crossing from one system to the other will cause problems.
Measuring Reception in the United States
Several commercial websites provide interactive maps indicating dead spots in the United States — by carrier and location. The FCC also produces similar maps and data. The maps are useful to consumers in identifying the number of dead spots in a specific area or city by entering the location.
When looking at the FCC’s cell phone reception complaint maps, one fact becomes clear: high population density equals high phone reception complaints. The northeast, west to Chicago, has a very high population density and a correspondingly high number of reception complaints. The same situation continues down the east coast to Washington, D.C. and beyond. Because the midlands of the U.S. are less densely populated, dead zone reporting is less intense and scattered. Along the west coast, major urban areas, from San Diego, CA to Seattle, WA all report heavy cell phone reception problems.
There Is a Solution
The solution for consumers is determining how many dead spot and reception problems are reported for their current cell phone service provider by using the dead spot and reception reporting programs noted in this article. If there are other carriers providing service in the same area, it is worth checking out the number of dead zones reported for those companies. There is often a dramatic difference in the numbers reported indicating the better cell phone service providers in the area.
With this information in hand, consumers have the option of shopping carriers. However, it is important to know that cell phone providers are restructuring their existing plans to prepaid rate plans based on how many voice minutes and data minutes are used. For customers who decide to switch to a carrier with better reception, there are T-mobile plans online available.
Putting up with unacceptable cell phone coverage is frustrating regardless of whether it’s in an urban area or in the country. Even though 82 percent of the world is a cell phone dead zone, no one should have to tolerate a dead spot in or near their home — period.
Guest Author: This article was written by Kathryn Thompson, an experienced technical blogger who has written about topics from GPS trackers to the latest in mobile technology.