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HOW TO: CHOOSE THE BEST MOBILE NETWORK IN YOUR AREA

If you’re someone like me who has multiple SIMs of different mobile networks because of work then you’ll need to be absolutely certain you have the best to satisfy your needs. It’s not always as simple as just looking at the network bar on your device, two networks displaying full signal strength could actually have varying degrees in quality but even then it’s still hard to distinguish, but thankfully there is a more quantitative way to go about this right on your device.

It’s not always as simple as just looking at the network bar on your device, two networks displaying full signal strength could actually have varying degrees in quality but even then it’s still hard to distinguish, but thankfully there is a more quantitative way to go about this right on your device.

WHY DO I NEED TO CHOOSE THE BEST NETWORK

Poor signal strength on any device can cause many issues, most of which you have probably experienced many times before, but brushed aside because you thought it not an issue, and annoyed the next time it happens again.

This all came about because you weren’t using the best mobile network you could have, here are some of the issues:

1. DEAD SPOTS

Have you ever been sitting at home or at work, you check your device and notice you have a full signal strength, and then after walking to another room or some other part of the building you find that you have no bars at all? You have found a dead spot.

A dead spot is exactly as it sounds, an area where the signal on your phone is dead, nothing reaches it there.

In terms of mobile signals, think of a network mast as a kind of lighthouse that send signal in all directions, if anything comes in between the light, a shadow is formed, that shadowed area is usually the dead spot, these obstacles could include certain kind of concrete, plaster or other signals that cause an interference. You can save yourself from a dead spot by simply moving whatever is creating the dead spot or moving

You can save yourself from a dead spot by simply moving whatever is creating the dead spot or moving yourself away, but if that happens to be your bedroom or office, then you have a problem.

2. CALL DROPPING

if at any point the signal drops below a certain level on either party, the call is dropped

Call drops are the most common issue most people face due to low signal strength, when it happens most people simply use the phrase ‘its the network’, that however doesn’t tell the full story. A call drop is a situation where a call between two parties prematurely terminates without any of them actually hanging up.

This is usually caused by a poor signal strength, if you initiate a call on your phone a call setup procedure is initiated which if successful connects you to your desired destination.

However, if at any point the signal drops below a certain level on either party, the call is dropped.

Think of making of phone call as creating a bridge between two points, each word you speak is people crossing that bridge and finally your network signal is how sturdy the bridge is, if the signal is poor it may collapse when someone is trying to cross.

3. VOICE QUALITY ISSUES

This refers to exactly how well you can hear the opposite party on a phone call and a poor network will have several issues here. If you can’t make out what the person you’re talking to is saying or there are several distortions in voice quality then you have a poor network, a few issues here include, noise, echoed voice, garbled voice, volume distortions, etc.

4. SLOW INTERNET

This pretty much explains itself, a poor network signal will results in slower connection speeds and high latency which you won’t want especially in mission critical environments.

The thing is even if you have a network that has a lower max speed but a higher signal you’ll still want to go with that cause the network with the higher network speed but lower signal will be more susceptible to issues of network downtime, loss of signal, etc. There is no point in a super fast network if the reliability is poor.

5. INCREASED BATTERY USAGE

Most people don’t know this, but a poor network signal will deplete your device’s battery more quickly than if the signal was good. What happens here is that there are components in the phone called transceivers, these components are responsible for two things, searching for a signal and then maintaining the signal.

If you have a good signal, the device only needs to maintain that signal, doing this allows the transceiver to remain in a low power state and expends very little power.

However, if you have poor signal, the transceivers will constantly be trying to search for a signal, there are particular ranges the transceivers cover and the wider the range the more power will be used, so in this case to connect to a signal the transceivers will draw more power from the battery in order to expand the range and this depletes the battery more quickly.

CHECKING YOUR SIGNAL STRENGTH

You can avoid most of the problems listed above by choosing a network with a strong signal in your location, whether that location be your home or office is up to you to assess and make that decision.

To actually check the signal strength, two things are needed, an Android device and the SIM of the network provider you’ll be testing (the more the merrier).

Since most phones these days come with two SIM slots, this saves us the time of switching out SIMs multiple times depending on the number of networks you’ll be testing, below are the steps:

  1. Insert SIM into Android device and power on.

  2. Go to Settings, you can get there either by going dragging down your quick access and clicking on the gear insignia or going to the main menu and finding the settings app there.

  3. Scroll down way to the end and click on About phone.

  4. Then click Status.

  5. Then click SIM status.

  6. Here you’ll see where it says Signal Strength in dBm and asu, you’ll need to have your device in a network mode you know you always use, I.e whether 2G, 3G or 4G.

DEFINING THE TERMS

1. dBm (DECIBEL IN MILLIWATTS)

dBm is the power ratio in decibels of the radio power per one milliwatt, and is known as the purest form of measuring signal strength, this number is all you’ll need to evaluate the signal strength.

The reason knowing the actually number becomes significant is that there is a certain range used in representing this number as bars at the top of your device, a times this number maybe too large and an actual value is needed,

So don’t be surprised to have 2 networks showing full bars on your phone but a significant range in between their respective dBm.

Quality of the dBm is measured closest to zero, whatever network has a greater value has the better signal. The dBm is almost always negative, a -60dBm is one of the best you’ll see, anything up to early -90s is quite acceptable, but once you start going near or over -100dBm, you have a poor signal.

2. Asu (ARBITRARY STRENGTH UNIT)

ASU is just a representation of the rate at which the phone is able to update its location by connecting to the towers near it, this is imperative for maps and location services. You can however convert ASU to dBm with this formula: dBm= -113+(2*ASU).

CONCLUSION

If you move to a new location as a home or a place of work or any other occasion you know you will spend a significant amount of time in using your network devices, then the best thing you can do for yourself is making sure you choose the network that will give you the least amount of worries.

Mission critical calls, the need to download a file quickly, any kind of emergency can arise in any situation that will require you to have immediate access to a network and if that network is not reliable then you will have problems.

The Decibel in milliwatts gauge provides you with the best quantitative value to signal strength and quality and you’ll do well to make sure you have the best in your environment.

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