What Causes a Phone to Lose Service?


Cellphones can lose service for a variety of reasons, ranging from hardware or power failure in the cellphone device itself to loss of signal from the cellphone provider for environmental reasons. Attenuation, or the loss of signal strength due to absorption from things in the line of signal, is a common culprit for signal loss in an area with otherwise good coverage.

Organic Environmental Interference

  • The environment where a cell phone is used is a common culprit for loss of signal and dropped calls. Foliage attenuation, or the disruption of a cellphone signal due to trees or brush being in the path of the signal, is one cause. Topography of the area, specifically hills, ridges, mountains or other land feature, can also block signals.

Electronic Interference

  • A cellphone can have its signal interrupted by electronic devices, such as computers or certain materials, such as wire mesh used to create a Faraday cage in building construction. A Faraday cage will block static electricity fields, rendering cellphone signals null.

Poor Coverage & Power Loss

  • Some rural areas may experience poor cellphone reception resulting in loss of service, dropped calls and poor signal. Depending on where the nearest cellphone tower is, a cellphone may not be able to generate a strong enough signal to function reliably. Power loss is also a reason for signal loss. If a phone loses power from its battery, it will be unable to receive signal.

Device & Hardware Failure

  • A cellphone should link to the closest tower that can provide signal. If the cell phone device fails to refresh the location of the signal to the nearest tower, the signal can become weak and result in lost service. Cellphone manufacturers recommend turning off the phone and removing the battery for 30 seconds to correct this issue and force the cellphone to reconnect to the closest tower. Certain devices may have internal antennas that can experience signal attenuation from holding the cellphone in different ways.

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