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Why Your Cell Phone Loses Reception In Your House And In Elevators

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People get into their houses or some elevators and they lose their cell phone reception and begin to wonder why. Some haven’t simply noticed, blaming their network providers for the poor network coverage. To understand why we have to understand how cellphones work.


Cell signals are radio frequency (RF) waves. RF waves are also a form of electromagnetic energy. At all times there are only two reasons for poor reception:


(1) The distance of the phone from the nearest cell tower or mast.


(2) Obstacles between the phone and the cell tower. The obstacles absorb, deflect or diffuse cell phone signals weakening them or cutting them off.


The materials employed in some constructions can weaken or cut off RF waves in their attempt to pass through. Metal and concrete are particularly very intrusive to RF waves. Metals can interfere with electromagnetic energy, the same with concrete which usually contains metals or its elements.

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This is usually why cell phone reception network usually seems to be better outside or on higher ground and the network always seems poor in our houses.


Furthermore, other building materials like wood and glass can also weaken or block RF waves.

Why do we lose cell phone reception in elevators?

The elevator side of a building. Photo: ThyssenKrupp.


From the explanations above, you already get an idea of why your cell phone loses cell phone reception as soon as you get into an elevator. Although it may seem like it happens magically because it returns when you get out of the elevator.


Buildings that use elevators have multiple floors, employing tonnes of steel in its construction. Even if they just use block or brick, RF waves already face a very good barrier. The RF signals have to first pass through the building’s exterior walls to reach the inside space, where the elevator most likely is.


Then the elevator itself is more or less a steel cage suspended by chains and mechanisms. So you have multiple layers of concrete and a steel cage, effectively blocking out RF waves and leaving you poor on cell phone reception.


So, next time your smartphone reception is bad inside an elevator, be patient until the ride finishes.


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