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5 tips on how to improve your mobile phone reception

Mobile | 1 August 2021

We all love our smartphones: they bring untold convenience to our lives every day.

But isn’t it frustrating when your mobile phone or smartphone suddenly stops working due to low mobile reception and/or weak mobile phone signal?

One minute you’re hearing your friend or business associate clearly, and the next minute they’ve disappeared and your mobile phone signal is low or non-existent. Or you’re scrolling smoothly through social media when all of a sudden everything screeches to a halt and your mobile phone signal is low. Weak mobile phone reception can be hugely frustrating.

Aussies are huge smartphone users. In fact, in the last 24 months, the virtual world has been our lifeline. It’s almost been the only way for Australians to retain normal human interaction with friends, family, and colleagues. This has also coincided with the commencement of Australia’s 5G rollout. Networks are responding by bolstering their infrastructure to improve reliability on the mobile network and boost mobile phone reception.

Despite these advances, you’ll still find yourself with a weak mobile phone signal from time to time; it’s inevitable. Before you go through the hassle of shopping for different mobile providers, checking your external antenna or internal antenna, or looking for a different mobile network operator, make sure you’re doing everything you can to improve your reception by following these tips.

1. Get to higher ground for your mobile phone signal

One easy way to improve reception is to move up higher. Mobile data networks operate using high frequencies of radio waves. And just like with FM radio, those waves can be disrupted by objects between you and the tower. Whether that “object” is a small hill, a parking deck, or a city block full of buildings, your reception can be affected causing weak mobile phone reception. To make that important phone call or load that crucial website, move on up. Climb the hill, go upstairs, or (at a minimum) stand rather than sit. Often, this can improve the connection to your nearest mobile phone tower and boost a poor signal.

Bonus tip: The earth itself is quite great at blocking radio waves, so you’re bound to struggle with your signal if you’re underground (even in a basement or car park).

2. Move towards a window when making phone calls

The radio wave principle is in effect here, too. If you’re struggling with mobile phone reception inside a building, try moving toward a window. Certain building materials block mobile phone signals more than others. Glass will certainly let more mobile signal through than concrete, so if you can look for a window this can often boost your network signal.

3. Don’t trust Wi-Fi too much

A Wi-Fi connection can be both the solution and the problem at virtually the same time. If your phone suddenly becomes internet unresponsive – apps stalling out, web pages failing to load – check whether you’re using a Wi-Fi connection rather than your mobile data. If so, try toggling Wi-Fi off from your phone settings and see if things return to normal over your mobile phone data connection. Why? Well, Wi-Fi networks and portable Wi-Fi can break or experience issues, too. Sometimes the phone will connect to a network just fine, but there’s nothing happening on the back end. There’s no real connection to the internet.

4. Get to know your settings and options

Make sure you don’t have a configuration problem and know the difference between 4G and 3G. If you’re paying for high-speed 4G coverage but your phone displays only a little “3G” in the corner, your speeds will suffer. If you’re in an area with weaker reception, your phone may pick up the slower (but more widespread) 3G network. In this case, it’s a good thing. Slow is better than dead, right? But if you’re constantly seeing 3G, it’s time to check your phone’s settings or contact your mobile phone provider.

5. Boost your signal

If all else fails, it’s time to try digitally boosting your signal. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) gives two legal methods for doing so. For home, mobile phone repeaters or femtocell tech (if your carrier offers them); and for the road, a vehicle-mounted high-gain antenna. These can significantly improve mobile reception. But beware, the ACMA warns that mobile phone boosters are illegal in Australia, and mobile phone repeaters not authorised by your provider are, too.

The next time you face frustrating mobile coverage gaps, try these 6 tips to improve your mobile reception and get connected once more.

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