How to Improve Cell Phone Reception in a Concrete Building
By Andy Walton
The dense nature of concrete means that it can sometimes disrupt the radio waves that make up a cell phone signal. As such, you may experience poor call quality and disconnections if your business's premises are made of concrete or dense building material. The most efficient way to get around this problem is to remove the concrete from your cell signal's path altogether. You can do this using cellular repeaters.
Concrete disrupts cell signals by producing physical interference. It absorbs and reflects Radio Frequency (RF) waves as they try to pass through it. The end result is that not all of the cell waves that hit the outside of your concrete building make it through to the inside, causing a reduction in the cell reception seen by your phone. Concrete is not the only material that can cause this phenomenon, with metals and toughened glass also among the leading causes of physical interference.
Cellular repeaters act as miniature cell towers, re-transmitting cellular signals across an area of around a few hundred feet. They generally consist of two connected antennae: one internal and one external. The external antenna acts as a receiver, taking in cell signals before they are blocked by the concrete. The internal antenna then broadcasts these signals on the inside of your building, allowing signals to reach your phone without being subjected to physical interference by the concrete in the building walls.
You may be able to improve your cell signal by minimizing the electromagnetic interference inside your building. Electromagnetic interference occurs when radio waves clash in transmit, causing similar effects to physical interference. To avoid it, try to keep wireless devices such as routers and cordless desk phones away from the areas you use your cell in. This will not prevent the interference caused by concrete, but may help you to provide a better environment for the signals that make it into your building.
It may be that the weak signal inside your building is being hampered by generally poor cell reception in your area. One way to check if the is the case is to use reception tracking sites such as OpenSignal and SignalMap. These sites allow users to indicate how much reception they have in their location, and which network they are on. If your network's reception is consistently poor in your area, consider switching providers to one that provides a better coverage.
Andy Walton has been a technology writer since 2009, specializing in networking and mobile communications. He was previously an IT technician and product manager. Walton is based in Leicester, England, and holds a bachelor's degree in information systems from the University of Leeds.