Mobile Signal – Common Barriers
Mobile Signal – Common Barriers

This is a very familiar phrase you will find being uttered throughout various office buildings, schools, and public buildings. "I can't get any service." Unfortunately, our lives have become so connected that not having mobile service even for an hour can be difficult. We have such a reliance on being connected all of the time that it can seriously disrupt your life if you cannot get a signal.

One of the main reasons why it can be so difficult to get a signal has to do with the office building materials being used during the construction process. The demand for more efficient buildings has brought more challenges to getting proper mobile signals within them. A lot of the building materials are chosen purely for their strength and their benefits for insulation and not a strong signal.

Any mobile phone uses bands to connect with mobile towers. These networks use radio waves to effectively communicate both ways. The difference is that the waves need two-way communication. With TV or even radio, the signal only needs to relay information in one direction. Mobile phones need two-way communication. This means the signal needs to be even stronger than what you would need for TV and radio.

There is a solution to this…

Some Of The Barriers To Mobile Phone Signals

Mobile phone signals, as mentioned, work on different types of frequencies. These frequencies are known as mobile bands. The bands being used by each carrier are likely to be different as they are divided up. These carriers are responsible for maintaining their network towers and you will find there to be a few major carriers in every country. In the UK, the major carriers are O2, Vodafone, EE, and Three. These carriers then sublease to smaller operators. These operators are known as Mobile Virtual Network Operators. This includes Tesco Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Giff Gaff, and more. These operators are leveraging the infrastructure of the big carriers to supply their customers with mobile phone service. Recently wifi calling has become very popular to learn about the pros and cons of wifi calling see here.

Any band that is a higher frequency is going to be subject to more interference. These bands may deliver faster speeds, but they can get blocked much easier and travel shorter lengths. You can tell how this works by looking at your router. Your router likely has a 2.4Ghz band and a 5Ghz band. The 2.4Ghz band is going to be better suited for longer distances, but it will suffer in speed. Whereas the 5Ghz band is better for unobstructed paths as it's faster, it will suffer greatly if it has to go through thick building materials. There are plenty of materials that can prove to be difficult for mobile bands to penetrate. Here are a few of them:


This is one of the materials that you will find in a lot of office buildings and it also happens to be one that can limit mobile band penetration. This is especially true when you are talking about the kind that's steel-reinforced. Unfortunately, the concrete material can absorb the radio waves and it can keep them from passing through freely. If the building has steel mesh, it's only going to make it even worse.

Coated Glass

Glass is not a material that you need to worry about. However, that all changes when that glass has a reflective coating on it. A lot of glass has a reflective coating on it to keep sun rays from penetrating the glass. It reflects light to minimize heat transfer. Unfortunately, it does the same thing to radio waves. The coating on the glass that improves the thermal efficiency is also effective at reflecting mobile signals. While these buildings may look great, they aren't going to deliver the optimal mobile signal.

Foil Backed Insulation

Any kind of insulation can absorb radio waves. The more insulation, the more radio waves will be absorbed, and the harder it will be to get a signal. The Kingspan foam is typically compressed in the middle of two different layers of aluminium foil. While it's great for the energy efficiency of the building, it's not good for mobile signals.

What Can You Do About It?

Stand By The Window

The tried and true way to defeat this is by putting yourself in a spot in the building with minimal interference. Typically, you can get a mobile signal in an office building by standing right next to a window. While your signal may not be strong, you'll typically get one. This is a solution, but it's certainly not a practical one. After all, what if the only place you get a signal is over someone's desk? You don't want to have to run over to a window just to take a phone call.


This is what is commonly referred to as a "Sure Signal." This is something you can request from your respective mobile carrier. These products effectively create a stronger link to the carrier using your Internet. From there, it broadcasts a signal that is strong enough for your phone. You can generally get this from your carrier but you'll need to have it registered with them. Because of this, you will need to get one from your new carrier if you ever do make a switch.