My cellphone has turned against me.
February 13, 2009 9:06 AM   Subscribe

For no apparent reason, my apartment (despite strong signal according to my cellphone) has become a "dead zone". What remedies do I have?

The problem started just the other day, with people complaining that I was breaking up during phone calls. This has never been a problem before, and comes at a terrible time when I have to call potential employers about job openings. Moving around my apartment does not seem to change anything. Aside from caving into overpriced cable companies and getting a land line, what can I do to reverse this disturbing change?
posted by undercoverhuwaaah to Technology (15 answers total)
Response by poster: I should add that I have "full bars" while walking around the house, but when I make a call, those bars disappear and reappear without my moving around in any direction, fluctuating from full bars to 1 bar throughout the call.
posted by undercoverhuwaaah at 9:10 AM on February 13, 2009

Previously on AskMeFi...

I leave my phone in a "live zone" and use a bluetooth headset with voice-activated features so I can walk around... Hopefully you have at least one or two good spots to leave your phone while you're making calls.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:20 AM on February 13, 2009

Response by poster: I saw that question, but that was a situation where the house had dead zones all along. Before this week, my house was just fine for reception. Are there any ways to go about diagnosing the new signal problem and remedying it based on that?
posted by undercoverhuwaaah at 9:42 AM on February 13, 2009

Why not use something like Skype (or a better VOIP provider) for important phone calls? Nowadays you can get a number for very little a month.

If the phone reports 2 or more bars but youre still dropping packets then Id suspect the phone. Id try to get a replacement from the cell carrier.

Switch to a different carrier who has better service in your apartment.

Lastly, something like this.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:43 AM on February 13, 2009

Have you called your provider? They might be doing work in your area. At the very least you can report spotty reception to them.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:44 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Since the problem started happening recently, I would determine whether it's related to your phone. It's a pain to acquire additional handsets and get them activated, but that's what I'd recommend.
posted by kidbritish at 10:07 AM on February 13, 2009

You still get full bars? Sounds like a bad phone. It happened to me once.

Contact the company that supplied your phone and inform them of the problem. They will troubleshoot with you accordingly and may even send you a replacement
posted by nikkorizz at 10:17 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding a phone reception problem - I could see bars but it just didn't connect for some reason. Does this ever happen to you outside your home?
posted by barnone at 10:27 AM on February 13, 2009

And yeah - call the company. Perhaps your local tower was on a demolished building, or it's broken, or who knows. Who knows if customer service would even know that though!
posted by barnone at 10:29 AM on February 13, 2009

Nthing the phone. Two identical cell phones in my home, one with five bars and mine with only one. Same plan, company, etc... took it in and it was the phone and received a new one via the warranty.
posted by bach at 10:35 AM on February 13, 2009

I would be interested in an answer. I live in a small city in an urban neighbourhood about two blocks from the ocean. The United States is about 50 kilometers across the strait. In my home office, on the third floor of an apartment building (we're located in the shadow of a tall, wide hotel that's also between us and downtown) I have cell reception in 2/3 of my apartment.

However, if I walk with my cell phone to the next room, the call breaks up. Sometimes the call will cut off. If I walk two blocks south, towards the ocean, I get a text message saying "Welcome to the United States."
posted by KokuRyu at 10:40 AM on February 13, 2009's probably the phone if signal bar is good.
Try it somewhere else with equally good reception. If you get same result, time to bite the bullet and get new phone.

If it's not the phone, there's probably work going on with the reception tower. They do that all the time. Though I don't see how you're seeing good signal bar.
posted by 7life at 10:57 AM on February 13, 2009

What could have happened is that your phone company could have changed tower configurations. Try calling them they will try sending a new config to your phone.
posted by majortom1981 at 11:05 AM on February 13, 2009

For your immediate problem, sign up with Skype for a phone number and get enough minutes to tide you over (or buy their unlimited US+Canada plan for the year). Grab a cheap headset if you don't have one already. From there, you can even have your cell phone forward your calls to Skype so you don't have to worry about missing calls from people who have your number. Happy job hunting!
posted by zachlipton at 2:18 PM on February 13, 2009

I had something like this happen, and it was a failing CFL lightbulb putting out spurious RFI.

Bars don't mean anything. Well, they must mean something, but it doesn't appear to be related to call quality.
posted by gjc at 3:04 PM on February 13, 2009

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