Do Your LTE Data Speeds Fluctuate?
It’s almost 3 years since Bmobile launched LTE here in Trinidad & Tobago, and we fast approach Digicel’s 1 year anniversary of their LTE network. Since the launch, I have seen a wide range of experiences from the public. Some have noticed significant changes for the better with respects to their speeds and others have seen a change for the worst and question if we actually do have real LTE here in T&T.
Now, the latter isn’t far from the truth, as T.A.T.T has been holding the entire industry by holding hostage the much needed 700mhz and AWS spectrum over the last 5 years. This is needed for much better indoor coverage and more capacity for users on the network. In the meantime, both operators have had to squeeze LTE into the older 1900 spectrum which is like trying to cram the same traffic down a two lane motorway.
You may have faster cars, but you need more spectrum to open up more lanes for the traffic. As we wait on T.A.T.T to sort themselves out, here are some of the other factors that directly affect our LTE speeds on both Digicel & Bmobile.
The Top Factors That Affect LTE Data Speeds!
Your Smartphones CPU & Modem
Did you guys here about the Apple & Qualcomm debacle? Where the iPhone X that was fitted with the Intel modem’s performed 20% lower than the Qualcomm modems with respect to data speeds? Your device’s CPU & Modem are rated to handle particular speeds and you can see those speeds on sites like Gsmarena when you search for a device. You also may have the same model of a device but a different CPU & Modem, depending on the version of the phone you get.
Your Distance From A Cell Tower
Our cellphones communicate with the cell towers using micro waves, which get weaker the further you are away from the actual tower. The avg distance you can be away from a tower before you run into issues is about 22 miles. If your area has a bunch of towers, chances are you will always receive coverage, but if you live in areas with a lack of towers, the only thing you can do for better reception is move. You can use an app like Opensignal (iOs/Android) that will allow you to see where the towers are in your area for both Bmobile & Digicel.
Since radio waves travel in a direct line, anything that is in the way from your device and the cell tower, can affect your signal. The waves however can bounce off of buildings to help get to where they are going. However, when you have mountains, hills, foliage, that the signal cannot pass through, you run into some real problems with respects to signal.
Being Inside Buildings
One of the big reasons your cell service disappears inside buildings, elevators, basements, is because of the materials used in these buildings. Materials like Steel, Concrete, and other materials are great at blocking the signal. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about this, other than go outside.
Since radio waves travel through the atmosphere, the best days for reception will be on the days that have clear sunny skies. Things like rain, fog, dust or any ionized particles can hamper your cell signal.
Network congestion is a big player when it comes to affecting our LTE speeds. A cell site is typically rated to handle a certain amount of active users at once. The more towers available, the more users can be spread out. There are typically 2 instances that a network could become conjested. A regular amount of people on a network all deciding to use their phones at the exact same time, like in the case of a major emergency and also an unusual amount of people in an area, using their phones normally (think Carnival).
The Speed You Move At
The micro waves move at incredible speeds and normally have no issues both sending and receiving signal. However, when you start to move at speeds of over 60mph, your signal can become compromised. Anything over 100mph, and your device can have some real problems trying to keep up with your data transmission.
The Antenna On Your Smartphone
The materials on your smartphone have its role to play in reception as well. Our phones are typically made out of plastic, metal or glass. Depending on the build quality of your device, your antenna will either need to be placed on the outside, as in the case of metal devices or it can be on the inside for the plastic & glass builds. When you are using a metal device, its always good to be aware of where the antennas are on your phone, so you try your best not to cover them.
Having a low battery can also greatly impact your cell signal as your device will not have the required energy to push out its own signal. This is one of the main reasons that all of the power saving options, turn on connectivity intermittently.
Poor Carrier Coverage
It’s always good to use an app like Opensignal to see where the towers are located in the main areas that you frequent, to minimize any of your reception problems. If your service providers do not have towers in your area, or simply a badly built network, you will run into issues with coverage.
I Hope This Helps
As you can see, there are so many varying factors that can affect the quality of your cell signal. Some of these things are within your control and others are not. Keep these factors in mind when you are experiencing bad service from Digicel or Bmobile.