Getting the best mobile signal quality

For many of us who rely heavily on our smartphones for communication and entertainment, poor mobile signal quality can be a frustrating experience.

The quality of a mobile signal is measured in two ways: coverage and speed.

A mobile network is made up of a large number of base stations with wireless equipment and antennae, peppered across Singapore in locations such as rooftops, on lamp posts and on vehicles.

There are three key factors that affect the quality of a network:

PHYSICAL OBSTRUCTION

Mobile signals can be blocked by physical obstacles such as hills, high-rise buildings, walls and metal structures. Hence, it can be more difficult to get a strong mobile signal indoors than outdoors.

One of the key challenges for telcos in Singapore is to ensure that coverage is maintained amid Singapore's fast-changing urban landscape.

For major events such as the National Day Parade, StarHub deploys additional vehicles with mobile base stations in order to cater to the increased demand.

MULTIPLE USERS

Wireless signals are a limited resource, and the more users connect to a single base station, the poorer the quality of the network may be.

This may be particularly apparent during rush hour, when many commuters are using their mobile phones at the same time.

PHONE LIMITATIONS

Mobile network quality can also be affected by the phone that you are using. Phones with outdated or damaged antenna, or with software issues, may not be able to receive signals strongly.

In order to increase mobile network quality, telcos such as StarHub can take the following measures:

PLANNING AHEAD

For major events such as the National Day Parade, StarHub deploys additional vehicles with mobile base stations in order to cater to the increased demand.

StarHub also keeps track of the temporary occupation permit dates of buildings, in order to install new base stations if needed.

RELYING ON DATA ANALYTICS

StarHub constantly reviews user performance indices such as call success rates and typical data speeds, and builds new base stations or tunes existing antennas to serve customers better.

USING SPECTRUM EFFICIENTLY

StarHub has been pushing towards operating its network on lower frequencies like 900MHz and 700MHz, as these frequencies offer better range and in- building coverage.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2016, with the headline 'Getting the best mobile signal quality'. Print Edition | Subscribe