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Dead Cell Zones

  What Causes Dropped Calls and Dead Zones?    AT&T   Verizon   T-Mobile   Sprint   TracFone  

Whether you are driving on the road, taking the subway underground, on a train or bus, going to a packed concert or a football game or in an apartment building or home, we’ve all experienced frustrating dropped calls and dead zones. Your phone may say that you have full bars but you can't keep a connection. It happens in populated cities, in the valley, in the middle of nowhere and more.

What causes dead zones exactly and how we can do to get better cell service in a dead zone? A "dead zone" is a place where a phone signal from a cell tower or DAS (distributed antenna system) is not able to connect to a cellular device. In these locations, cellular users are not allowed to access to a signal strong enough to make a phone call and use data on the cellular network. There are many causes for a dead zone where we drop our calls, experience slow download and upload speeds and even can’t access to the internet. When things like this happen we all love to blame our cell service providers for the poor coverage. The truth is, most of the time it’s not their fault. The culprit is typically something between us and the cell tower that blocks the signal so we can’t get good reception. 

Distance From Cell Tower or DAS Antenna

Cellular signals are radio frequency waves and they behave like any other RF signal. If the your mobile phone or tablet is too far away from the antenna cell tower, then the signal will be weak or maybe altogether unusable. Sometimes your phone may show that you have 1-4 bars of signal, but you can’t make or receive a call. The phone may ring, but when you try to pick up, no one is on the other end. This happens because the cellular device you’re using does not have enough power to push its transmission signal all the way back to the distant tower or the network is congested with other callers and data users. 

Too Many Users On Network

If you live in a densely populated urban area or apartment building, you may have ever had slower service in some areas. For example, when you’re taking a subway, or when you attend a concert or a sporting event at a stadium. Each cell tower has limited bandwidth, when there are too many users using the same width at the same time, you may have full bars but you can’t make a call or access the internet.

Local Terrain Features

Hills, mountains, ridges, trees, bluffs and similar terrain will block cellular signals. Any situation in which there is higher ground between your cell phone and the tower anteanna can cause signal issues. If you live in or have driven through hilly areas you know that you might have full bars one moment, and then when you go around a corner or into a low spot the signal may vanish only to reappear a short time later. That’s the terrain blocking your cell signal.

Man-made Obstructions

Buildings, homes, utility towers, highway overpasses or almost anything else built by humans can interfere with cell phone connectivity and line of site with cell towers. RF signals can’t easily pass through metal or concrete, so anything built with either or both can cause reception problems. In urban settings, building structures can be the main culprit that blocks cell signals. Large buildings, like any natural or man-made obstruction, can deflect or distort RF waves. Driving into a parking garage is a foolproof way to drop a cellular connection if no distributed antenna system (DAS) is present iside. Almost any materials used in construction – concrete, metal, shingles, masonry, wood, drywall, even glass (especially the metal-oxide-coated low emittance type) – will weaken or block signals as they attempt to pass through. So when you’re at home, in the workplace or inside almost any building you can encounter cell phone reception problems. Reception is almost always better outside a building.


Poor connections while driving in a car, and then noticed a marked improvement in voice quality or data transfer speed once we step outside the car. Cars are metal-and-glass encased cocoons that do an excellent job of blocking cell phone signals. Research shows that on average cell signal strength drops by about 30 percent inside a vehicle. Some cars have the ability to connect your car to an antenna on the vehicle to improve signal.


Trees, shrubbery, almost any kind of foliage can block cell signals. Ask anyone who lives in a heavily wooded area how their cellular reception is. They’ll tell you – trees are wonderful things, but they do NOT disrupt cellular signals.

Weather Conditions

Rain or poor weather can hurt your signal. Even dust particles in the air can weaken RF signals. Water vapor on foggy days can diffuse RF signals as well.

Finding the best cell phone coverage just got easier by comparing cell phone coverage reports from other customers. Which wireless carrier has the worst cell phone coverage?


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