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Why you might have a poor mobile signal?
In many rural areas the housing density is too low it is not commercially viable for an operator to place an antenna. It is unlikely that your service provider will do anything to improve reception, due to the high cost of erecting a new tower. The only way to obtain strong cell phone signal in these areas is usually to install a home mobile repeater otherwise know as a mobile signal booster. In flat rural areas the signal is unlikely to suffer from multipath interference, so will just be heavily attenuated by the distance. In these cases the installation of a cellular repeater will generally massively increase signal strength just due to the amplifier, even a great distance from the broadcast towers.
Building construction material
Some construction materials very rapidly attenuate cell phone signal strength. Older buildings, such as churches, which use lead in their roofing material will very effectively block any signal. Any building which has a significant thickness of concrete or amount of metal used in its production will effect the signal. Concrete floors are often poured onto a metal pan which completely blocks most radio signals. Some solid foam insulation and some fiberglass insulation used in roofs or exterior walls has foil backing, which can reduce transmittance. Energy efficient windows and metal window screens are also very effective at blocking radio signals. Some materials have peaks in their absorption spectra which massively decrease signal strength.
Large buildings, like warehouses, hospitals and factories, often have no mobile reception further than a few meters from the outside wall. Low signal strength is also often the case in underground areas such as basements and in shops and restaurants located towards the center of shopping centers. This is caused by the fact that the signal is attenuated heavily as it enters the building and the interference as the signal is reflected by the objects inside the building. For this reason in these cases an external antenna is usually the best option.
Even in built us areas which normally have strong mobile signals throughout, there are often dead zones caused by destructive interference of waves which have taken different paths (caused by the signal bouncing off buildings etc.) These usually have an area of a few blocks and will usually only affect one of the two frequency ranges used by cell phones. This is because the different wavelengths of the different frequencies interfere destructively at different points. Directional antennas are very helpful at overcoming this since they can be placed at points of constructive interference and aligned so as not to receive the destructive signal.
Diffraction and general attenuation
The longer wavelengths have the advantage of being able to diffract to a greater degree so are less reliant on line of sight to obtain a good signal, but still attenuate significantly. Because the frequencies which mobile phones use are too high to reflect off the ionosphere as shortwave radio waves do, mobile signal waves cannot travel via the ionosphere.
What is a mobile repeater
A mobile repeater also known as mobile signal booster is a device used for boosting the mobile phone reception to your local area by the usage of a reception antenna, a signal amplifier and an internal or external antenna. These are similar to the mobile broadcast towers used for broadcasting by the network providers, but are much smaller, usually intended for use in one building.
Modern mobile repeater amplifiers rebroadcast mobile signals inside the building. The systems usually uses an external, directional antenna to collect the best cellular signal, which is then transmitted to an amplifier unit which amplifies the signal, and re-transmits it locally, providing significantly improved signal strength. The more advanced models often also allow multiple cell phones to use the same repeater at the same time, so are suitable for commercial as well as home use.
One advantage of using a mobile repeater is an increase in the mobiles phone’s battery life due to the lower power required to broadcast the signal to the local bi-directional amplifier, due to its proximity to the phone.