Cellular Dead Zones: What Causes Them and How To Fix Them

Updated: Aug 5



Many aspects of life rely on communication. It builds and strengthens relationships, connects people to resources and services, increases a person's knowledge, improves collective awareness, and helps businesses operate. Cellular technology came into the world as a means to enhance and increase communication, allowing people to reach one another from various distances and at any time.

However, calls sometimes get interrupted despite technological advances, and signals disappear, affecting business deals, relationships, and experiences. Whether you're on a road trip or building a new space, running into poor or lack of cellular signals dampens the mood. Since signals don't just vanish, where do they go? Or maybe the more pertinent question is, where did you go?


If you've wandered onto a location with poor or lack of cell signal, you might have stumbled upon a dead zone. Here is everything you need to know about cellular dead zones, their causes, and how to fix them.


What Are Dead Zones?

Dead zones might sound a little dramatic, but when your first line of communication gets interrupted, it sometimes feels like you're separated from the rest of the world. Dead zones are areas with no cellular signals. They are locations that stand out of reach from the nearest signal towers and fail to deliver and receive passing radio waves from devices.

Dead zones occur anywhere and everywhere. They exist in rural areas, cities, deserts, roadsides, and even between buildings and indoors. The easiest way to know if you've crossed into a dead zone is to look at the bars on your phone. No bars mean no signals.


Why Dead Zones Are Bad

With communication as a major player in many people's lives, from their personal to professional life, not being able to call, send texts, or use your data network creates various challenges. If you live in Toronto and your family in Edmonton, calls and texts can help minimize the distances between you. Staying connected allows you to stay updated on each other's lives and connect with one another without needing to live nearby. Lack of signal connection makes those distances between each other feel further, creating disconnection. Similarly, poor, weak, and non-existing cellular connections hinder important work calls and other relationships. You can't set up schedules, check in on people, or even reach emergency services without a cellular connection.


Potential Causes

Cellular connection functions with the help of radio waves. Radio waves carry data in certain frequencies, travel across various distances, and relay information to other radio devices and receptors. Network towers are the main sources of radio waves. They connect your devices to your network carrier plans, allowing you to communicate and link with others. Since dead zones occur when out of reach or sight of cell towers, many of the causes arise from interceptors and barriers standing between you and the nearest tower.


Location, Location, Location

Cell towers take energy and convert them into electromagnetic waves called radio frequencies. No frequencies mean no cellular signal connection. The biggest cause of dead zones is cell towers or lack of cell towers. Cellular towers sporadically cover various locations. However, depending on the geographical landscape and surrounding population, some places on the map miss out on a tower.


Signal Interceptors

Some materials block, weaken, and refract radio waves, creating poor and weak signals and indoor dead zones. The denser the material, the fewer the chances are for the signals to pass through. Various building materials such as steel, concrete, brick, and fiberglass hinder cellular signals. Most of the time, they simply weaken signals instead of outright blocking them. Usually, they reduce signal frequencies between -2 to -30 dB, while metals can reduce the frequency up to -50 dB. Too many signal interceptors in one place block out and heavily reduce signals by the time they reach your device, causing indoor dead zones.


Natural Interceptors

Like building materials and various dense debris, natural interceptors also weaken signals and block the line of sight between your device and cell towers. Various natural and geographical factors affect cell signals, from thick forests to mountain ranges. The more density they generate, the harder it is for signals to travel through and the weaker the radio waves become. An accumulation of natural interceptors creates dead zones.


Weather Interferences

Although less likely to completely block out connection with towers, weather interferences also affect your cellular connection. Again, the denser the barrier, the more it hinders cell signals. Blizzards, rain storms, mudslides, hail, and dense fog all create added barricades between you and cell towers. When they completely block your line of sight of towers, they produce dead zones. Some weather factors also affect the functionality of cell towers, breaking their connection with energy supplies, breaking antennas, or causing towers to fall, further causing dead zones.


Solutions and Fixes

Since dead zones cause a lot of issues and communication challenges, it's important to try to find a solution. However, in some scenarios, fixing a dead zone is beyond your control, especially if you can't add in a cell tower nearby. The only solution for locations without sight or any nearby cell towers is adding a tower or moving locations. In cases where the cause derives from blocked signal reception and interceptors, there are some fixes to liven up your dead zone.


Removing Interceptors

Physical interceptors such as building materials and forests that stand in your line of sight with towers are often temporal. Removing the interceptors returns reception back into dead zones. It clears the passageway for radio waves and allows you access to the full strength of incoming signals.


Cell Signal Booster

Although cellular signal boosters can't generate new signals for you to use, they can enhance and spread nearby signals into a dead zone. As long as there is a tower nearby, boosters can turn your dead zone into a hot spot. Cellular signal boosters capture, boost, and reemit radio waves collected from nearby towers. They increase the likeliness of signals traveling through interceptors, strengthening frequencies and broadening signal reception and emission range. SureCall Boosters provides a range of signal booster systems, including commercial cell boosters in Canada. With a signal booster in your home, vehicle, or office, you can reconnect with others and communicate again.


At some point, everyone encounters a dead zone, causing calls to drop, texts to fail to send, and the internet or the data plan to fail to load—especially in Canada's rural locations and wide open roads. Understanding the causes and solutions to cellular dead zones ensures you remain connected with those you care about, business partners, and other necessary services. Plus, it helps you avoid certain locations and the best spots to build homes, offices, and general locations to travel to and explore while staying connected.