Weak Zones & Dead Zones

You’d think we would have the total US covered by cell service by now. If you listen to service provider commercials and if you look at their coverage maps, you see very few spots that have no service. You would think the whole world is covered by their service. You would think but… unfortunately, it’s still not the case and it’s not just you that has trouble getting cell service at home, work or when on the road.

Internet Service Too!

Cellular networks now provide Internet service too. The potential to Internet access away from where wired connections are available, is huge. Alas, no cell signal, no Internet service (at least cellular broadband anyway).


So, the big question is why. There are a ton of companies selling cell service and you see towers all around as you travel, so why isn’t it everywhere?

There’s basically 2 areas of bad service; rural or metro. Yes, you can have a great signal all around you but still not be able to make a call.

First let’s look at rural areas.

Investment in Technology

There are 4 service providers that are considered “nationwide”. They are AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. According to the FCC, combined they cover 91% of the US population. Other regional or metro service providers (Cricket, MetroPCS, Leap cover larger populated areas. All combined, the FCC reports that 99.9% of the population is covered. However, “coverage to the extent that a provider’s reported coverage is greater than its actual coverage. Additionally, coverage does not quantify network quality variables such as signal strength, bit rate, and in-building coverage. This is where the issue of coverage is challenged. The coverage maps and service provider commercials look and sound great, but the reality is that total “usable” coverage area is much smaller than what service providers report.

Carriers want to serve areas with large population to recover their investment in the large amount of technology required to bring service to a particular area.

Limits of Technology

Some of the limits of cellular technology are distance from towers, terrain between you and a tower and man made buildings or other obstructions between you and a tower.

Metro Area Challenges

Within Buildings

One of the biggest challenges of weak or non existent cellular coverage is within buildings. This can be huge office buildings or small metal buildings. Having trouble getting signal in your home but the signal is great outside? It’s probably that metal roof on top of your home.


Down in a valley, up on a hill? Both can impact the quality of the cell signal you are receiving. Got a lot of trees around you? Again, can negatively impact your signal.

What Can You Do About Poor Cellular Coverage?

Unfortunately, 100% cell coverage is not with us yet. What can you do? First, contact your service provider. If you have a broadband Internet connection like Cable or DSL, they may offer you your own cellular tower called a Femtocell or MicroCell. It broadcasts a cell signal but must be connected to your home WiFi network. Doesn’t do you any good on the road of if you were relying on broadband from cellular.

If you don’t have a Broadband Internet connection, take a look at today’s newer signal boosters. They don’t require a broadband Internet connection. They basically take the signal outside, amplify it the re broadcast it inside. Cellular Signal Boosters are available for homes, offices, large buildings and vehicles.

May 14, 2013 Jerome Hansen

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