How to Boost Cell Phone Signal in South Africa: Free & Paid Solutions
- 01 Jul, 2019
How to Boost Cell Phone Signal in South Africa: Free & Paid Solutions
You're not alone. Patchy cell phone reception and limited cell signal are frequent problems in South Africa. According to a Pew Research Study, More than half of South Africans own a mobile phone, and an ICASA study has recently put that number at 88% of the population. That means experiencing dropped calls and slow internet speeds are not only frustrating to the average South African but has a negative effect on the economy as a whole.
And with the increasing number of smartphones and slow development of cell phone towers, mobile internet congestion is the new traffic jam of the modern age.
But luckily, the signal experts at Bolton Technical have developed a conclusive list of free and paid methods to help improve your cell phone reception and coverage.
Free Methods To Improve Cell Signal
1. Find Out Which Part of the House Has The Best Reception
Do you know where your nearest cell phone tower is located? If not, then you need to find out, because the zone of your home closest to your nearest cell tower gets the best signal.
The best way to find cell phone signal strength is to look at the decibel (dB) reading. You see, the bars on your mobile phone vary from one service provider to another. For example, what might be 3 bars on Vodacom is 2 bars on MTN, 1 bar on Cell C and full bars on Telkom Mobile.
Confusing yes? There's no industry standard for cell phone bar readings.
Cell phone signals are radio frequencies that work in a certain range: -50 dB to -110 dB. -50 dB is great signal, with full bars. -110 dB is basically a dead zone.
While you could use a dedicated signal meter for extremely accurate results, any iPhone or Android phone can show dB readings just fine.
To see how strong your signal is by locating the dB reading if you own an iPhone (some newer versions have this feature disabled)
- 1.Go into Phone Mode
- 2.Dial and Call *3001#12345#*
- 3.You'll enter Field Test Mode
- 4.Drag down your notifications bar and you will see your dB reading in the left-hand corner.
To see how strong your signal is by locating the dB reading if you own an Android phone:
- 1.Access Settings
- 2.The General
- 3.Go to About Phone
- 4.Network or Status
- 5.You should see your dB Value
Walk around your home and look for the digit closest to -50 dB. Once you do, you will have found the best area in your house for cell reception.
2. Get Away from Obstructions and InterferenceNow remember cell signals are basically radio waves, the AM/FM kind. They're excellent for covering long distances, but they're awful at penetration. Almost everything can affect cell signals. Here's the complete list:
- 2.Hills or valleys
- 4.Tall structures
- 5.The Weather
- 1.Thick Building Material
- 2.Electrical components
- 3.Magnetic components
- 5.Lots of clutter
All these can hinder or block incoming cell signal. So the best tip is to get near a window or balcony that is elevated, since the second story of a house more likely gets better signal than the first floor.
3. Get Away from the Crowds & Public Events
Ever noticed your cell phone starts lagging in public places, especially at venues and crowded events? That's because cell towers are only able to hold a certain number of connections simultaneously.
So if you're at a Rugby game or concert and everyone is taking photos and trying to upload to their Facebook or Instagram, it'll slow down the network dramatically and even worse, won't let you connect.
So the best solution is to get away from the crowd and find a less crowded space meaning less competition for the signal of your phone.
4. Keep Your Battery Fully Charged
This is a bit of surprise, but it's true, especially with today's smartphone. It's not just a phone, but an internet browser, music player, calendar, book reader, gaming device, etc.
With so many functions and a limited battery life, your cell phone needs to use more battery to not only make a call but also find a signal.
So it's best to keep your phone fully charged and at least above 10%. After that, your phone may go into battery saving mode and affect its performance.
5. Use Wifi Calling
While apps like Skype and WhatsApp have been enabling internet calling for some time, the four major South African networks (Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom) are slowly embracing wi-fi calling.
Instead of using your cellular signal, when connected to Wi-fi, your smartphone will use it instead to make and receive calls. Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom have joined the wifi calling game with MTN still in the process of rolling out this feature.
So if you have landline internet, this is a function that should definitely be used.
Paid Methods To Improve Cell Signal
1. Femtocell & Microcell
A femtocell (also known as microcell) is like a mini cell tower in your home. They work by using your broadband landline internet and converting it into cell signals. While powerful and convenient, there are some drawbacks.
First, it's only Network-specific, meaning a Vodacom femtocell will only work with Vodacom phones and service. So if you change cell service providers, there goes your investment. And secondly, you need to have broadband internet. And if you do, expect slower internet since the femtocell now uses some of that bandwidth to make cell signals.
2. Cell Phone Signal Boosters & Repeaters
Cell phone signal boosters (also known as repeaters and amplifiers) are powerful devices that take incoming weak signal, amplify it, and then rebroadcasts the boosted signal to an area in need inside the house.
Solutions vary from affordable one-room boost to multi-story building coverage, although the most popular is a whole house booster like the Wilson Pro A500. They work on all phones and all Networks. Cell Signal Boosters have gained in popularity in the SA market the past few years as people without broadband internet depend on just their cell signal as their only means to connect to the internet.
However, one setback is that they're dependent on having a signal, so a signal booster can magnify weak cell signals but not create it. They're somewhat costly, however reviews are very positive since they are seen as investments. You can read more about the different ICASA approved Signal Boosters available in the SA market here.
If you decide to invest in a Signal Booster, ensure that the seller has the necessary approval from ICASA, as many devices sold on the internet are illegal, and can land you in trouble if caught by the authorities.
Looking for a reputable Cell Signal Booster? Look no further, Click Here.
3. Change Networks
After you've done everything you could, it just might be time to switch Networks. With today's easily portable phone numbers and competition paying for you to switch networks, it may be just the right time to make the jump and possibly get a new phone in the process.
...And a Method that is GUARANTEED NOT to Improve Cell Signal
Antenna Boosting Stickers
No. Please. Just no. They don't work. Wrapping your phone in tin foil probably has a better chance than these gimmicks. I also have a plot of land on Saturn if you're interested in buying some.