Bad cell reception in a potential apartment can be as important a factor as a lousy view, low water pressure, and tiny closets. But before you start figuring out how to get better cell phone reception in your apartment, take a step back. Are you checking the strength of your cell service itself while you’re apartment hunting?
Testing your cell signal inside
As you’re walking around a potential apartment turning on water and measuring each closet, take a look at your phone. Take note of how many bars you have in each room, including the bathroom (we won’t tell if you won’t). Try texting a friend from rooms on opposite sides of the unit. Make a couple of phone calls to see how well you can connect.
Pull up speedtest.net and test your internet speed (download speed between 5 and 12 mbps and upload of 2 to 5 mbps is a satisfactory result). And if you want a more detailed signal strength info while walking around the unit, put your phone into Field Test mode.
Am I better off closer to a cell tower?
When touring the outside, run those same tests you did inside… send a few texts, make a phone call, pull up a website. But there are factors outside that affect what happens inside. Take note of how close tall buildings are and what barriers may block your signal. You can even look up cell tower locations on websites like CellReception and AntennaSearch.
But don’t be fooled; proximity to a cell tower doesn’t equal a good signal inside your home. Ask about the building materials, as metal and concrete in walls and radiant barriers in the attic won’t allow your phone’s RF signals to penetrate well even if cell phone reception is strong just outside the unit.
What if my perfect apartment has a bad signal?
If your otherwise perfect apartment has bad cell reception, it’s not the end of the world. There are many fixes for better cell reception including using a signal booster, a femtocell station, switching to Wi-Fi calling, utilizing iMessage on iPhones, and even simply keeping your phone fully charged. So don’t fret.
While poor cell service reception can be an important factor in deciding not to sign that lease, don’t let it be a non-starter. There are always ways to improve your signal once you’ve moved in so you’ll be sure to get all those “Congrats on your new place!” texts.