For those who are not aware, it is no secret that building materials and structures are not ardent fans of cell phone reception. Having metallic roofing above you is not going to do anything to make things any better for cellular reception! It is as good as a final nail on the coffin that your cell reception is.
The matter becomes all the more serious if you are running a business and you need to be connected with your customers and employees on the field at all times. How do you expect to be in contact if the cell reception falls flat every other minute?
3G and 4G LTE signals are radio frequencies, that like all radio waves when met with interference and obstruction, the reliability is no less than a toddler’s 5-second attention span. We shall be taking a look at some of the commonly used building materials, and what impact they have in chewing away at your signal strength.
But first, to lay the foundation…
How Is Cell Phone Signal Measured?
It actually is quite subjective.
The 3 bar signal on a Verizon cell carrier is not the same as the 2 bar signal seen on a Sprint cell carrier. There is no particular standard that carriers use on deciding the number of bars for their service. You may be receiving the exact same signal strength, but will be seeing a different bar icon.
However, one can make use of a reliable technique- using the decibel (dB) reading. This is measured in decibel-milliwatts or dBm.
Cell phone signals have a particular signal range from -50 dBm to -120 dBm. The -50 dBm reading indicates a ‘full bar’ or high strength signal and the -120 dBm signifies a ‘dead zone’ that is void of any strength. You want to make sure that your signal strength is closer to -50 dBm.
Building Material And Your Cell Signal Strength
Building materials eat away at your cell’s dBm when it comes in contact with the signals. The more it subtracts, the closer your cell signal is at risk to reach the forbidden -120 dBm.
Let us take a look at some of the materials that a cell signal will have to come face-to-face with:
Greenery, Foliage And The Weather
It technically is not a building material, but you must know how much of signal strength is lost if it were to come in contact with mother nature’s constructs. Everything from trees, mountains, hills and even the weather can make a ruckus with your signal.
Rain can ‘deduct’ around -3 to -5 dB
Foliage is a much bigger problem as it is very capable of blocking cell signals. This is why you often lose signal strength if you were to go through thick tree cover. So much so, during the fall season, the reception is better. The reason? Leaves scatter on the ground and leave less obstruction for cell signals.
Foliage can deduct around -7 to -20 dB.
Most North American homes are made up of drywall. They are the first interior wall’s line of defense that prevents the signals from reaching into and across the room without having to undergo signal loss. Dry wall deducts close to -2 dB.
it is one of the newer construction materials on the list, and is used up in walls or in the attic, they often ‘tag-team’ with drywall, and can cut close to 50% of the cell signal strength even before it reaches your phone. It can deduct -2 dB cell signal strength.
The obvious reaction from you would be “clear glass causes drop in signal strength?”. The answer is a resounding yes. Glass is majorly used in more homes, and not just for windows, but also panels and staircases. The cell signal needs to pass through the glass and undergoes refraction along with a loss in strength by around -4 dB.
This is another material that is commonly being used in most buildings and it works flawlessly when it comes to reducing the strength of the cell signal. when the plywood is dry, it can reduce the strength by -4 to-6 dB, and if it were to become wet due to leakage during rains, then it would act much like a wet sponge- Reducing the strength by -20 dB!
This is a material that is made from gypsum, cement, lime and is used for the protective coating on ceiling and walls. This material could wear down the signal strength by around -8 to -16 dB.
Invest in a cell phone signal booster- a device that helps in boosting the outside signal and makes it available to you at a higher strength. The cell phone booster is a great long-term investment that has no recurring fees pinned to it. You can use it with just about any cell phone or network carrier. Your solution to bad cell reception is here!