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How to Deal with Poor Cell Coverage in Your Apartment (1)
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How to Deal with Poor Cell Coverage in Your Apartment

Oct 3rd, 2014

“I’m sorry, the reception in my apartment is terrible. I’m going to have to head downstairs and call you back once I’m outside.” If you can relate to this, you’re not alone. Poor cell coverage is commonplace in apartments.

Why does it happen? There’s a variety of reasons, one being that building materials inherently interfere with signals.  Metal and concrete, core building materials, don’t allow signals to pass or they interfere with them. Even wood and drywall contribute to weakening signals. Another reason is the incredible data use growth is stressing carriers bandwidth allocations. Thankfully, it’s not something you have to live with.

If you get decent cell coverage right outside your apartment and in most of the city but not in your apartment, then consider one of these solutions as a means to improve your cell coverage.

Signal Booster

A cellular signal booster does exactly what it sounds like. It amplifies cell phone signals to make them stronger using an antenna-based system. If you receive a weak or unreliable cell signal in your apartment, this could be the ideal solution for you. If you have limited or nonexistent coverage in your apartment but typically have no trouble receiving a strong connection right outside, the signal booster can actually pick up and amplify those nearby signals as well.

Since a signal booster can amplify the signals of multiple carriers, it’s a great solution for roommates with multiple carriers and also for when you have friends or family over.


Also referred to as a microcell, a femtocell is a small box resembling a wireless router that can extend cellular coverage into a home or office where it’s typically poor. It uses an existing connection, such as a broadband line, to receive and support a cellular signal from a base station.

What does this mean? If you have a decent wireless internet connection in your apartment, you can use that connection to improve your cell coverage. Most major carriers offer femtocells, which are compatible with a range of mobile telecommunications technologies. However, they can cost hundreds of dollars. If you’re generally satisfied with your plan and your biggest complaint is the poor cell coverage in your apartment, contact your carrier to discuss the possibility of buying and installing a femtocell or ask if you qualify for a free one.

Use Wi-Fi

If your phone supports UMA (unlicensed mobile access) and you have a wireless connection, you can use the Wi-Fi as your cellphone signal. What is UMA? It’s a technology that allows a UMA capable phone to seamlessly switch back and forth between mobile phone networks and local wireless networks. Not all carriers support UMA calls, so check with your provider. However, it is becoming more and more popular as technology improves.

Consider Google Talk

Google Talk is an instant messaging service that provides boh text and voice communication. So you could forward calls from your mobile phone to a Google Talk phone number that uses Wi-Fi as a cell signal. You just need to get started with a Google account.

Other Things to Consider

If none of these solutions work for you, here are a number of things to try:

  • Upgrade your antenna. Look for a “hi-gain” antenna. You can change it yourself or have it changed in the store you purchased it from.
  • Keep the battery charged.  Sometimes your phone is strong enough to make a call, but not strong enough to find a signal.
  • Stay away from other electronic devices that could interfere with the signal such as microwaves and laptops.

If all else fails, consider changing carriers. You might be locked into a contract that would be difficult or expensive to break, but if you have the flexibility or are willing to take that step, it may be worth it. Before selecting a new provider, chat with your neighbors about the carriers they use and how cell coverage is in their apartments.

Mobile connectivity is important to many apartment dwellers in this day and age. If you have put up with poor cell reception since moving into your apartment, put an end to it. If you like to be accessible to your friends, family, or boss at all times, improving your cell coverage can help you Live Life + Love Life to the fullest.

Have you had success improving your cell coverage using a method discussed in this post or any other strategy? Share your experience in the comments!

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