Amidst the intense debates over Net Neutrality, the long-prevalent problem of call drops in mobile networks is still a new burning subject for many people. Whether you’re taking or making a call, if it is interrupted before either party decides to end the call, it is known as the infamous call drop. The real culprit for the dropped calls may either be in the Macro or the Micro network, or both, but without the shadow of a doubt, it affects directly on the network quality perception of the carrier, and the build quality perception of the building. Not only are they annoying and frustrating, calls drops are also more worrying than blocked calls as they don’t get in the queue to re-establish a connection. The drop call rates are often used as one of the essential figures of merit to measure the quality of service in the mobile wireless networks.
The demand for significantly improved quality of service is on the rise and will further increase as lives of more users’ depend on digital realm and as more devices join the mesh. With that, the dependency and expectations on the services provided by the mobile wireless networks are indubiously going to rise. Individuals count on their mobile phones as their lifelines to family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, and cutting that support can have genuinely adverse consequences.
Dropped calls are as a result of several problems. Some which individuals and private parties can address themselves and some that are unique to the macro carrier networks. The most common and widely known cause of dropped calls is location. Smartphones often have the strongest signal outdoors, but most buildings can inherently only offer degraded quality. Some may have areas with no reception at all. This is in big part because of the building materials like concrete, glass, metal, bricks etc. that interfere with the signals from the macro and significantly drop the quality of service. Ironically though, according to the EPA, over 90% Americans spend their time indoors. So, when your call drops, it’s most likely to happen indoors and the natural and instinctive reaction is moving to a better location. Running to the nearest window, balcony, terrace, backyard, or any location where the networks are likely to be stronger.
Another contributing cause can also be making or taking calls around electronics, especially computers which can also cause interferences with the signals. It could be bandwidth peaking, or the Quality of Service (of software or hardware), or Poor Internet connection leading to Packet Loss on either caller or receiver party. Bandwidth peaking is something that happens when the users on a particular network create so much traffic that it exceeds the internal or external network. And when this happens, the voice packets get dropped and so will the call. We all have noticed our cell phone signal drop during big events such as sports games and concerts. This happens as a result of significantly high number of people trying to receive the signal from a cell tower and its limited capacity.
As a starting point, the distance to the nearest cell phone provider’s cell tower determines how strong the signal is, and then everything else adds to it. A single provider with a weak or poor signal in a specific location could indicate that they do not have enough cell towers nearby. On the other hand, multiple providers with poor signal reception could suggest that something else is creating a dead zone. It can be helpful to check with people who live or work in your surrounding to determine the cause of the drop calls.
One could have a good signal as they walk through the living room or a lobby, but as soon as they enter the internal parts of the building, like bedroom and kitchen or the internal office spaces, the call starts to degrade or drop. Noticing this can help determine whether the real issue is in the macro or the micro networks. If we have a decent cell phone reception in some areas of the building but lose it elsewhere, then it’s highly likely to be a result of interference from sources such as the building materials or the floor plan design of the building. Large buildings such as hospitals, manufacturing plants, educational facilities, and warehouses have weaker cellular receptions due to their internal structures. In such premises, not only the building materials but the obstacles interference could also be the cause of dropped calls. The equipments, plants, and objects that are placed and used inside the building can play a big part. Seemingly minor interferences from these objects can, in turn, cause significant signal penetration problems.
From destructive interference by building materials, to the geographical distance from (or the obstacles between) our smartphone and the nearest network tower, the call drops are dreaded and not something any of us enjoy experiencing. The potential causes are so many and the answer to put an end to this is one - In Building Wireless.