One of the many things we have learned over the past 18 months is that being in touch with family, friends and colleagues has become more important than ever. However, you don’t always have adequate coverage.
Some rural areas have little or no mobile coverage, meaning that good reception can often only be guaranteed in cities. So, if you find yourself in one of those places where you have to run and lean out the window when someone calls you, here are some things you can do to tackle poor mobile reception.
Before you do something as drastic as spending a lot of money on a signal booster, try the following tips.
A classic: Different positions
One of the causes of the bad signal could be your phone. Before smartphonesSome phones had an external antenna, but today they are all internal.
Placing a shell on the phone (especially metal) can seriously affect the effectiveness of the device’s antennas, as can holding the phone “badly”, as Steve Job claimed when iPhone users complained about it. of the “Antennagate” fiasco.
Jobs’ claim is somewhat true, but it’s actually a combination of factors if you want to maximize your chances of getting better coverage.
Temporarily remove the case from the phone, hold it so that it does not obstruct the antenna lines, and even go to the highest room in the house (also facing the nearest cell tower, if possible) can greatly improve the signal strength.
Bad mobile signal? Use Wi-Fi instead
Most households in Europe today have broadband that is fast enough to make calls over Wi-Fi. In reality, there is no difference between making a call via Skype or WhatsApp and what most people do. mobile operators call it “wifi calls”. It is simply a phone call that uses the Internet instead of the mobile phone network.
You can check if your mobile carrier offers Wi-Fi calling, but it is also important that your phone supports it. If one or both of them prove to be incompatible, the obvious thing to do is to use a VoIP client (like Skype) instead.
Skype is available for most phones and is completely free, as long as you call another Skype user.
Most likely, the person you want to call already has a Skype account, but if they don’t, it’s quick and easy to create one, install the app, sign in and receive ( or make) a phone call via Wifi.
Sometimes you can’t verify whether the other person has Skype or not, but luckily the service allows you to make real phone calls as well. This is useful if your signal is weak and your recipient does not have it but does not want to install Skype, or if it is impractical to ask them to install it; For example, if you call a business or a customer service center.
Of course, there are plenty of alternatives to Skype, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Google Duo, and FaceTime. So, if you are already chatting with someone using one of these services, you can also call them over Wi-Fi from the application of your choice.
These are the best apps for making group video calls.
That said, you can’t always expect the other person to be connected via Wi-Fi at the exact moment you want to call them, which is why all major phone networks offer Wi-Fi calling.
They are the best telephone operators in Europe in 2021.
Change mobile network
It might sound extreme, but if your home mobile signal is still bad, consider switching providers. Switching is surprisingly easy (you can now send an SMS to switch networks) and keeping your current number is easy too.
To find out if a different network will provide better mobile signal, you can use their respective coverage testers. Each of them will tell you if the signal will be good both outside and inside in any direction.
If you prefer to get an independent opinion on the signal quality of each operator in your area, go to opensignal.com; There are also mobile apps for Android and iOS (RootMetrics has its own independent coverage checker which is also worth trying).
However, there’s an even better way: order a free paid SIM card from a provider and try it out for a month on a replacement phone (or even your primary phone). Sure, this will set you back a few dollars, but it’s a small price to pay to find out which network has strong mobile coverage in your area.
Most SIM cards are now “all in one”, so you can get the size you need for your phone. You’ll need to use the new SIM phone number for the test, but at least you’ll have a good idea if the coverage is significantly better than your old provider’s or not.
If not, try another provider until you find one with the best signal.
You can also check out our best SIM only deals.
Signal boosters for mobile phones
If you don’t want to change networks and can’t rely on Wi-Fi calling, a signal booster can help.
They are also called “femtocells”, but be very careful what you buy. As you will see on the Ofcom website, most signal boosters are illegal.
You can go to your cell phone provider and ask if they’re going to provide you (or sell) an amplifier / repeater, but we’ve found that unless you’re a customer with a monthly contract, they aren’t. generally not very useful.
If in the end you have to pay for an amp out of pocket, it can cost anywhere from $ 70 to $ 600 and there is no guarantee that it will solve your problem.
If you follow this path, we recommend that you opt for the option offered by your network operator instead of buying a box from a third party.
Most of these devices create a mobile signal using your home broadband, while others repeat / boost a weak signal.
Note: With increased support for Wi-Fi calling and improved network coverage, Vodafone intends to phase out its Sure Signal booster amplifiers by September 2021 and therefore no longer sells them; only provides support to existing customers.
Create your own mobile network
Depending on your needs, a final (and unorthodox) option is the goTenna Mesh. These portable devices are primarily designed for hiking, but they work anywhere with little signal, allowing you to create a mini mesh network to communicate.
They are sold in packs of two, four or eight units, and it is enough to pair each goTenna with a phone via Bluetooth to be able to send encrypted messages (but not voice calls) between the devices, as long as they are in its. operating range. , which can go up to six kilometers in open terrain and about 800 meters in busier urban settings. You can also use the devices to create a relay, expanding the range with each of them.
Obviously, this won’t be the perfect fit for everyone with a weak signal, but it could be perfect for people who want to reliably connect with their friends and family who live near them on the terrain or other weak signal areas; that or anyone who wants to plan a visit to an area with low signal, such as a hike or a festival weekend. You can purchase a plan directly from goTenna.
Original article published in English on our sister site TechAdvisor.