How To Get Reception On Your Cell Phone In Remote Areas?

How To Get Reception On Your Cell Phone In Remote Areas?

The Morning Hike

This morning I was doing my morning hike in a semi-remote area near the ocean and listening to a Podcast on my iPhone with my wireless Bone Conduction Headphones. When I was prompted to go to the next section of the Podcast for some reason it gave me a warning as an untrusted site, it then went to a local pay for internet site instead of going back to the podcast.

Many of us have been frustrated by internet reception on our Cellphones and basically stuck without service many times in our lives. I have been driving on trips and lost service in highway canyons and dead areas many times. Living in Alaska there is not a lot of roads let alone cell sites especially if you are camping or in the backwoods.

Cell Phone Reception Obstructions

Let’s face it, if there is no cell tower nearby “No Worky”. Where I live in Alaska there is only 3G Signal. Carriers like Verizon use other companies’ cell towers to piggyback signal. So if you’re in Alaska and have Verizon service they may link back on GCI’s cell towers (Alaska’s Home Grown Carrier).

When cell phone reception is weak the strength of the cell phone signal can be affected by assorted impediments. These include natural obstructions like mountains, hills, trees, and building materials for structures such as a house, place of work, or a shopping mall. A considerable factor is also the distance from the transmitting cellular signal tower.

Please see some of our other interesting articles on cell phone reception like “Can Wi-Fi Interfere With Mobile Phone Signal?” and “What Can Your Smartphone Do Without Cell Service or Wifi?”

Max Distance for Cell Phone to Work from Cell Tower?

According to the Wikipedia and A Synopsis of Range

3G/4G/5G Mobile base station tower: it is technically possible to cover up to 31 to 93 miles.

5G Mobile base station: the distances between the 5G base-station is about 820 Feet to 985 Feet (Yes Feet), due to the use of millimeter waves. There is a recent test by New York University showing the possibility of millimeter waves traveling up to 6.2 miles but that has not been put into practice yet (and that if it’s not raining!!).

Based on a tall mast tower and flat terrain, it may be possible to get between 30–45 miles with CDMA Networks (Code-Division Multiple Access). When the terrain is hilly, the maximum distance can vary from as little as 3.1 mils to 5.0 miles. GSM Networks (Global System for Mobile Communications) have an additional absolute maximum range of 22 miles.

How to Improve Cell Signal While Camping or Backpacking

  • Find the highest ground in the local area to minimize terrain obstructions.
  • Position yourself clear of trees and any other potentially obstructing vegetation.
  • If you’re inside a vehicle, step outside.
  • If the weather is poor (rain, snow, heavy clouds, etc), try the cell connection again after it clears.
  • f you have access to AC or DC power, use a cell signal booster.

You should look for high ground and a clear line of sight when seeking better cell signal while camping clear of local terrain obstructions and away from trees and vegetation. If you are in a motor vehicle getting outside gives you a possibility of a better cell signal because you do not have the metal and glass blockage of the automobile.

What If You Are In a Location Where None Of These Tips Work?

What If You Are In a Location Where None Of These Tips Work?

If none of these tips work, and you can’t get a usable cell signal? In that case, the only thing that may be left to do is get a cell signal booster.

For a cell signal booster to work when you’re camping, you need a 110 power source to plug in to. That power source can be a generator, vehicle, solar panels, or even an off-road vehicle like a four-wheeler.

3 or 4G Repeater Signal Booster

Weboost Home 4G-470101

The best way to boost 3G or 4G signals in areas with low Cell signal coverage is to set up a 3G or 4G Repeater Cell Signal Booster. It can solve poor coverage issues much of the time.

You also can’t boost or amplify a signal that isn’t there, a cell signal booster does NOT create a signal. To work, it needs a detectable cell signal to amplify. Without a detectable cell signal, a booster can’t work.

Part of the issue also is the smartphone antenna that manufacturers are using today.

Mobile Phone Antenna

Apple iPhone 8 Antenna
Mobile phone manufacturers often sacrifice a good mobile antenna in favor of small, attractive design. The result can be damaging for users living in rural communities. They thought they bought a racer fast smartphone, but what they experience is a slow turtle grasping for an internet connection.

Radio Frequency Reception

Theoretically, the top Smartphones of today currently can get up to 1.2Gbps speeds of Radio Frequency reception. That is a smartphone modem that’s faster than your home fiber connection (Amazing!!). That’s crazy if you think about it. Unfortunately, the theoretical 1.2Gbps speed is nice, but in real life you’d be lucky to get a fraction of that in North America.

How Fast Is Cell Phone 1 Gbps Internet Speed?

  • A gigabyte is roughly equal to 1,000 megabytes.
  • Gigabit internet (one gig) is one of the fastest internet speeds you can get, and it’s the most popular option among internet users.
  • With gigabit speeds, a high-definition video conference or hour-long webinar takes mere seconds to download.

Your 1 Gbps Internet Speed Is Only As Fast As Your Network

Your 1 Gbps Internet Speed Is Only As Fast As Your Network
This morning on a speed test on my iPhone with a 3G remote Network:

  •  5:14 AM with Wifi – Download Speed (Mbps) 32.0 Upload Speed 8.0 (Mbps) Latency (ms) 25
  • 1:35 PM with Wifi – Download Speed (Mbps) 19.0 Upload Speed 8.0 (Mbps) Latency (ms) 163
  • 1:40 PM with Mobile – Download Speed (Mbps) 1.0 Upload Speed 654.0 (Kbps) Latency (ms) 135

So as you can see the imaginary 1 Gbps Internet Speed is; well imaginary at least where we are in Alaska!! ! But it’s Pretty Here!!

3G and 4G LTE Technology in the United States.

The United States is broadly covered by both 3G and 4G technology. 3G is the network that some older phones run on (or all you can get), and the one newer 4G capable devices fall back to when unable to reach a primary network.

Intel and Qualcomm Cellular Signal Modems are in the most advanced Smartphones of today and they get better every year. Any new phone is going to get better coverage and speeds than a phone a few years old.

Just a Little Trivia!! South Korea LTE Technology Networks Faster and Better Than the United States

Down a Steep Cliff!!
According to ZDNet business technology news website, “South Korea Telecom has rolled out 1.2Gbps LTE with the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S10 in South Korea, the telco announced.

SK Telecom said the new speed will allow an HD 2GB movie to be downloaded in 13 seconds and is 16 times faster than LTE speeds when it was first rolled out in 2011. It achieved the speed through the application of 4×4 multi-antenna technology into three bands, the company said.

5G networks in South Korea, which are non-standalone this year, will be based on LTE networks which means 4G networks will play an important role in its rollout.

Samsung’s Galaxy S10, which the telco began shipping on Monday for those who pre-ordered the device, will enjoy data transfer rates up to 1.15Gbps in the cities of Seoul, Busan, Ulsan, Gwangju, and Daejun.”

Where Does That Leave Us?

Where does that leave us?

Emergency Calls in Remote Locations

Every phone provider is mandated by law to accept emergency calls, regardless of the caller’s mobile network operator.

Normally, phones will only show the signal strength of their network; they will not show any signal bars of another provider’s cell tower. Emergency calls, on the other hand, can use any cell tower, so people in an emergency can still attempt to call 911. So even if the phone shows no service, it’s possible that if you try to make an emergency call, it will go through because it’s using a different cellular carrier’s network.

However, if there are no cell tower locations nearby from any carrier, no calls, whether emergency or not, will be able to be made. Thus, it may be important to determine if there are cell towers in the area in case of emergency situations.


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John Mortensen

As a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, geologist, or scientist. I became a project manager which is involved with many of those things. I am a project manager and tech writer who researches the latest alternative and green technologies. We write helpful articles about green electronics and green technology products. AI, extreme weather, electric vehicles, are all in our future and we want to know the best way to deal with the effects of these on the power grid and emergency preparedness.

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