Michael Hochman
Cell Phone reception

Better cell phone reception in your apartment starts with the apartment selection itself. Bad cell reception in a potential apartment can be a deal-breaker, particularly if you work from home. In the age of WiFi, testing your cell signal should be an important box on your apartment hunting checklist.

Cell signal strength in a WiFi world

Even if you’re planning on getting high-speed internet service and a WiFi router, cell service is important, as most users still connect with cell tower relays for SMS texting and voice calls. And if the power goes out, you’re really going to need that data service.

Only about half of residential homes in the U.S. have WiFi. While that percentage is much higher in urban areas and in neighborhoods with younger populations, cell service signal strength is still an important factor in determining if an apartment is right for you.

How do I check my cell service signal?

There are several ways to check the signal strength of cell service as you’re touring a potential apartment.
• Take note of how many bars you have in each room, including the bathroom.
• Text a friend from each room, especially interior ones without windows or those sharing a wall with an adjacent unit.
• Make a phone call from the places you’re most likely to be talking on the phone, such as the bedroom or living room.
• Test the speed websites load on speedtest.net.
• You can also turn your phone into a signal testing device by putting it in Field Test mode.

While the apartment’s location in relation to tall buildings and the closest cell towers are important, be wary. Unimpeded views of a nearby cell tower don’t mean you’ll get a good signal inside your home. Ask about the materials used in the construction because metal and concrete walls and radiant barriers in the attic won’t allow cell signals to penetrate well even if cell phone reception is strong just outside the unit. Frankly, older units will get better cell reception than newer ones because new construction material technology made to keep heat in also keep cell signals out.

And remember, if you and your family or roommates are on different cellular carriers, their signal strength may vary greatly from yours.

Will a poor signal keep me from my dream rental?

A good WiFi router in your home can solve most signal strength issues and there are many ways to boost your signal once you’ve moved in, so don’t worry if you’ve found your otherwise perfect home. You’ll be able to get everything set to your comfort so you can send out all those housewarming party evites without delay.

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About The Author

Michael is a Philadelphia-based writer with a variety of interests, including music, TV, politics, travel and sports (Fly Eagles Fly!). His background includes a decade as a programming executive in network television, six years as a marketing executive at a technology company and time at two magazines and two advertising agencies. He also sits on the board of a non-profit law firm that assists veterans with disabilities. His work has been featured in nexxt.com, Ale Street News and Radio TV Interview Report Magazine. Michael is a proud Syracuse grad (Newhouse) who has lived in Kansas, Chicago, Saratoga and beyond, and can be found at @phillyparttwo.