Consistently poor signal strength in Invermere, BC

Consistently poor signal strength in Invermere, BC

Consistently poor signal strength in Invermere, BC

truoni
I'm a Contributor Level 1

Consistently poor signal strength in Invermere, BC

Unfortunately I am going to be forced to leave this network and switch to Telus, which seems to have a cell phone tower closer to where I live and should give me better reception in this town.


Before I do that, and because I have had good Fido service over the years in other respects, is there anything I should first try?

 

Here is a relevant article: https://www.wthr.com/article/news/investigations/13-investigates/13-investigates-poor-cell-phone-rec... 

 

"Researchers at the California Department of Health say using cell phones in areas with weak reception can result in microwave radiation emissions that are 10,000 times higher than in areas with strong reception.

 

The study, made public this week, is being published in the journal Environmental Research, and it suggests consumers should take extra precautions when they see only one or two "bars" of reception on their mobile phones."

 

Here is the study: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0013935118305024 

 

I seem to get slightly better signal strenth using Fido EXT, but then my data doesn't work, and still the signal strength is too low for my comfort.

 

I am health conscious and don't want the radiation exposure of using the phone at low signal strength.

 

Any help before I decide to change providers?

13 REPLIES 13
truoni
I'm a Contributor Level 1

Thank you for all the excellent replies. This case is as good as solved, but I do have one additional question, and it's that although my current phone is not allowing me to use my data without LTE, most phones should allow me to select the network mode such that I'm able to use the stronger 4G signal vs the weaker LTE signal. Is this correct? In other words, I can buy a phone from a retailer with a good return policy, and chances are it will allow me to achieve this?

Hello again,

 

  There are a couple of things to note. Firstly, there are really 3 networks (2 after December 31st,2020) -- 2G (GSM), '3G' (WCDMA or UMTS), and LTE. After the GSM sunset, the it will only be the '3G' and LTE networks. You'll notice that I tend to refer to the WCDMA or UMTS network as '3G'. That's because that same network can be considered either 3G or 4G, depending on the protocol used: HSPA or HSPA+, respectively. The HSPA+ protocol should allow for data usage. It's possible that even though your phone's 4G signal appears stronger than its LTE signal, it's not a strong enough connection to support data adequately. Again, the frequency used (850 vs 1900) could affect data transfer. In addition, if you are able to get data via 4G, it won't likely be as fast as LTE.

 

  With most phones, it should be relatively easy to disable LTE by choosing 2G/3G or GSM/WCDMA(UMTS) in the network selection. It's unfortunate that option was disabled in your current phone.

 

  You should also note that cellular phone reception can vary depending on phone manufacturer and model (see here). It's possible that a new phone may be better able to receive cellular signals at your location. If that's the case, you might be able to get good '3G' and LTE signal. However, it's also possible that its reception could be worse than your current phone.

 

  While there is a lot of theory of what could be happening or what might affect functionality, it all boils down to your particular set of circumstances at your location. No one can predict what might happen given your situation. The best option would be to test out a new device at your location, if possible.

 

Hope this helps 😀

 

Cheers


truoni
I'm a Contributor Level 1

I phoned the Rogers tech support and seem to have some improvement since they "refreshed" the network in my area. My 4G signal now is adequate with 3 bars consistent in my home and sometimes even 4. Lowest at 2 bars. It's when the phone says LTE that the signal drops between 0 bars and 2 bars. When the phone is saying 4G, it's adequate. What I am noticing is that the phone defaults to LTE, but when I make phone calls it's using the better 4G signal. However, the data is using LTE instead of 4G.

Is there a way I can get my data to use the better 4G signal that my calls are using, or is it using LTE for data for a particular reason?

Hello again,

 

  Glad to hear you're getting better signal now. Most newer phones will standby in the best data connection available given the circumstances. Generally, that would be a connection to the LTE network. Data transfer is usually faster via LTE rather than the '3G' network, though data speeds can get close to those of LTE with HSPA+ (4G). Again, many factors can affect data speeds. With the exception of voLTE, the phone would then switch to the 2G and/or '3G' networks for voice calls and text messaging.

 

  If you wished to prevent your phone from connecting to the LTE network, you would need to disable LTE on your phone. Depending on your phone, you should be able to switch your network selection to GSM/UMTS(WCDMA) or 2G/3G. Is your phone the same as Microsoft Lumia 640? If so, you would need to select 3G as Highest connection speed (see here). Note that some devices refer to LTE as 4G. If your phone differentiates between LTE and 4G, then you should select 4G as Higest connection speed. However, if there is no LTE option given, then 4G is referring to LTE.

 

Hope this helps 😀

 

Cheers

 

 


truoni
I'm a Contributor Level 1

I found this: "Your network needs to support WiFi-calling and your phone would need a network-specific firmware to enable it." So are you able to help me with that firmware, or will I need a new phone? If I get a current generation phone, is the standard firmware going to work? I was thinking about a ZTE Blade A5.

 

Also, what is Rogers replacing the GSM network with, and is that going to help my signal strength? Will they be putting a tower closer to the town proper? This town has 40,000 people in it during warmer months, so quite significant for not having a proper tower in the town.


Also, I just checked my data transmission speed with LTE and it's only 8 Mbps. With Wi-Fi, it's 39 MBps. Is this low LTE data transmission because of the low signal strength?

I edited my second reply with some additional information regarding Wifi-calling. I wasn't able to include the information before you had a chance to read that post...

 

  Unfortunately, not all Wifi-calling capable devices are supported for the service. I do not believe either of those particular phones are supported (see here and here). In addition, you should note that certain features (ie voLTE and Wifi-calling) also may not work with grey-market devices.

 

  If you would like for Wifi-calling to work, your best option would be to get a supported device from Fido. With most android phones not purchased from Fido, those services won't likely work. Even a supported device from Telus or Samsung Canada, for example, (ie grey-market) may not work.

 

  I'm not trying to persuade you to purchase your device from Fido. It's just a limitation they have with those services. You can read other threads in the forums regarding non-Fido phones and Wifi-calling and/or voLTE.

 

  Many factors can play into data speeds. Yes, one aspect can be signal strength. However, as mentioned, the frequency used can also play a factor. I'm guessing that your phone connects to band 12 (700MHz) at your location. That frequency has a far lesser potential bandwidth than 2600MHz (see table in that link). Smaller bandwidth, slower speeds. In addition, the more people using data, the more that bandwidth needs to be shared among the different customers.

 

Hope this helps 😀

 

Cheers


truoni
I'm a Contributor Level 1

Yes, it helps. So what is Rogers replacing the GSM network with, and is that going to help my signal strength? Will they be putting a tower closer to the town proper? This town has 40,000 people in it during warmer months, so quite significant for not having a proper tower in the town.

Regarding Wi-Fi calling, I have now connected the phone to my home router using Wi-Fi, and I don't see any option for Wi-Fi calling. Like I say, it's a Nokia Lumia 640. Do you know if this should work or if I need a different phone for that?

Also, I just checked my data transmission speed with LTE and it's only 8 Mbps. With Wi-Fi, it's 39 MBps. Is this low LTE data transmission because of the low signal strength?

truoni
I'm a Contributor Level 1

Yes, it helps. So what is Rogers replacing the GSM network with, and is that going to help my signal strength? Will they be putting a tower closer to the town proper? This town has 40,000 people in it during warmer months, so quite significant for not having a proper tower in the town.

Hello again,

 

  I don't think Rogers will be replacing the GSM network. However, I believe they will re-farm those frequencies for the LTE network as additional bands (see here). Those additional frequencies should allow for better carrier aggregation and faster data speeds. As mentioned already, both Bell and Telus have already re-purposed their CDMA frequencies to the LTE network. That's why their average LTE data speeds are currently faster than Roger's speeds. It's difficult to say whether you'll notice any improvements in signal strength after the change.

 

  With regards to erecting an additional cellular tower, I think there needs to be a discussion with the greater community and town municipality. It's not a decision mobile providers can simply make on their own. Some areas have bylaws regulating cellular towers and many people just do not like the notion of possibly living near a cellular tower -- potential health issues, decreased property values, etc.

 

Hope this helps 😀

 

Cheers

 

 


truoni
I'm a Contributor Level 1

Also I read someone had a similar issue and his cell provider was able to send him a CDMA Sim card that solved the problem. They said the issue in that case was poor GSM coverage in their area.

 

Is there anything like that or anything else you can do for me, or suggest for me?

 

As I say I am happy with my plan otherwise, but the consistent very low signal strength is the dealbreaker for me.

 

I know some say signal strength measured by the phone is relative and as long as the phone seems to work fine, I shouldn't be concerned, but I really need to consistently see at least 3-4 bars to feel comfortable, and the poor signal strength presumably is why the data on the phone is sluggish.

 

I began with Fido while living in Calgary, and very possibly Fido just isn't a good provider in this rural town.

 

Here's the cell phone sites map: https://www.ertyu.org/steven_nikkel/cancellsites.html 

 

Type in Invermere, BC to see what I mean. Telus has a tower right in town, and Rogers/Fido has one quite a ways off next to a mountain.

 

Frankly the right side of my head where I would use the phone for long calls began bugging me, and that got me to look into these matters. I couldn't believe the phone was the culprit until I found out these phones can be much more potent when signal strength is low.

Hello Truoni,

 

  Welcome to the community!

 

  Sorry to hear you're having issues with your cellular reception. However, the nature of cellular service is that it is dependent on being able to receive adequate signal from the cellular towers. Adequate signal would depend, in part, on your location relative to the cellular towers. As you note, Rogers doesn't appear to have any cellular towers in the town proper. In addition to your proximity to the cellular towers, there are also many factors can affect cellular reception (see here and here). That's why no mobile provider can guarantee service. There are just too many factors beyond their control. That said, your celluar signal in the area would generally be considered adequate. You should also note that the number of bars can vary even with the same signal strength, depending on phone manufacturer and/or mobile provider (see here).

 

  If your location is outside of Fido/Rogers coverage, but within another provider's coverage, there are roaming agreements which allow Fido/Rogers customers to use those networks (extended coverage or Fido-EXT). To use the extended coverage, you would need to enable roaming on your device. You should note that extended coverage usage is meant on a temporary basis and the majority of your usage needs to be on the Fido/Rogers networks.

 

  Is your device capable of Wifi-calling? If you have Wifi access at work and your phone is a supported device, you might consider trying to see if Wifi-calling can be a possible solution for your situation.

 


@truoni wrote: Also I read someone had a similar issue and his cell provider was able to send him a CDMA Sim card that solved the problem. They said the issue in that case was poor GSM coverage in their area....

  I'm not sure of the accuracy of that information you found. CDMA networks do not use SIM cards (see here). That said, there are no longer any CDMA providers anymore. Both Telus and Bell have long since decommissioned their CDMA networks. In addition, you should note that Rogers does intend on decomissioning its GSM network by the end of this year (see here). At this stage, both Telus and Rogers utilise the same technology and bands/frequencies for their '3G' networks, WCDMA or UMTS. While their LTE networks are technologically the same, they might use slightly different bands/frequencies.

 

**edit**


@truoni wrote:.. the poor signal strength presumably is why the data on the phone is sluggish...

  While poor cellular signal can indeed affect data transmission, another factor might be the network and/or band/frequency to which the phone connects to the cellular towers. The different frequencies vary in their characteristics. For example, the lower frequencies (ie 700MHz) are better able to travel farther and penetrate deeper than higher frequencies (ie 2600MHz)(see graphic here). However, the lower frequencies also have a smaller potential bandwidth (see table here). You should note that the Telus tower in town does not appear to use the higher LTE frequencies. It's true, that point may be moot if your phone cannot receive the higher frequency cellular signal from the farther Rogers towers in town.**

 

  Unfortunately, if your circumstances don't allow for adequate (or what you consider adequate) cellular signal at your location (and Wifi-calling isn't an option), there isn't much that can be done. It's a common misunderstanding that any mobile provider will suit everyone everywhere. That simply isn't the case. If you spend a good portion of time outside of a mobile provider's coverage, perhaps that mobile provider isn't the right one for you.

 

Hope this helps 😀

 

Cheers

 

 

 

 


truoni
I'm a Contributor Level 1

Do you think I would have any improvement using 2G? My phone doesn't seem to allow it, but based on what I got from your graphic, the 2G signal can penetrate better over longer distances. Therefore is a 2G phone an option for me?

 

Currently my phone is not giving me the option for Wi-Fi calling, but I suspect that's because I haven't yet connected to a Wi-Fi network. I see on YT a video showing that this phone, a Nokia Lumia 640, does support Wi-Fi calling.

 

Otherwise I assume all current generation phones support that.

 

If am using the Wi-Fi feature for data, then I assume I can and should downgrade my plan to one without data.

Hello again,

 

  No, I don't think 2G would be a viable option. As mentioned previously, Rogers intends on decommissioning the GSM network by the end of this year. The GSM network is Fido/Rogers' 2G network. In addition, the 2G network would be rather useless for data transfer. Its capacity for data is quite limited.

 

  That said, both the 2G and '3G' networks (GSM and WCDMA/UMTS, respectively), use the same frequencies. You can view the different networks and associated bands/frequencies here. If you are able to use your phone for voice calls and text messages, it's likely connected to the '3G' network for that purpose. The 2G network would not provide any additional distance advantage. The only frequency used which is better at travelling farther and penetrating deeper would be 700MHz. However, it's usage is on the LTE network. Unless you phone is capable of voLTE, voice calls and text messages would need to switch to the '3G' networks.

 

**edit** I just read the additions to your post... Unfortunately, not all Wifi-calling capable devices are supported for the service. I do not believe that particular phone is supported (see here and here). In addition, you should note that certain features (ie voLTE and Wifi-calling) also may not work with grey-market devices.

 

  If you do not intend to use data when not connected to Wifi, then you probably would not require a plan with data.**

 

Hope this helps 😀

 

Cheers