How to Increase Cell Phone Reception With Verizon

By John Michael Thomas

If you suffer from poor reception on your Verizon phone, there are several simple steps you can take to improve your signal strength.

Things You'll Need

  • Cell Phone

A quarter of consumers consider improving cell phone coverage and quality to be the most important issue with cell phone use, according to the 2013 Annual Consumer survey conducted by MyWireless.org. Poor signal strength drains your phone battery as the phone uses power to search continually for a better signal. You can try software or hardware solutions to improve your Verizon cell phone reception, but before you do, try the quick fixes that might help when you're already on a call.

Quick Fixes

Cell phone signals are blocked by physical obstacles, which include the walls of your house or building, other nearby buildings, hills and mountains. One way to improve your reception is to move somewhere with fewer obstacles between you and the cell tower. Even if you don't know the direction to the nearest Verizon cell tower, three simple actions can improve your Verizon signal when you're on a phone call.

Step 1

The more you move around while you talk on the phone, the harder the phone has to work and the spottier your reception may be. So, stop moving. If your reception doesn't improve, move on to the next step.

Step 2

Move to a higher floor in your house or building if one's available; even standing up can help. The higher you are, the less likely an obstacle is between you and the cell phone tower.

Step 3

Glass windows permit better signal strength than walls permit; neither can interfere with your signal when you're outside. Move next to a window while you talk or go to an open space outside your home or building.

Software Solutions

Echo Test

If you often experience poor reception in a location you visit frequently, scout out the area for the best reception before you're on an important call. An echo test is an easy way to do this.

Call (909) 390-0003 on your cell phone to perform the test. This number is a publicly available PSTN test number designed to test phone call quality. When you connect, you won't hear a ring or any sound; just wait a few seconds, talk, and your voice is echoed back to you. Walk to different locations in your home or building and talk in each location or as you walk. Your voice is sent both ways on the phone line, so you hear when the connection is poor either for talking or listening.

Tip

The Echo Test works best if you keep your test phrases to 1 or 2 words. With longer sentences, your words may be cut off even if the reception is fine.

Find Your Cell Tower

Use the Open Signal app to guide you to the locations with the strongest signal. Open Signal shows you the direction of the strongest Verizon cell tower signal and displays a map of cell towers near you. You can download Open Signal from the Apple App Store or Google Play, where it shows in search results as 3G 4G Wifi Maps and Speed Test.

The OpenSignal app displays an indicator at the top pointing in the direction of the nearest cell tower, and other options on the bottom

Update Your Verizon Roaming Capability

Verizon adds and changes cell phone towers periodically, especially in large urban areas. Your phone doesn't know when cell towers are changed and new cell towers are added, so it may connect to towers that are old or far away. However, you can manually update your phone's list of cell towers to improve your reception.

Android

To update your Android phone's roaming capability:

1. Call 228 on your Verizon phone. A banner at the top of the screen says "Activate your phone". A voice prompt says "Welcome to Verizon Wireless programming" and prompts you to press 1 to program or activate your phone or press *2 to update your roaming capabilities.

Your phone will display

2. Press 2.

Your phone displaya a message --

Tip

For best results, shut off your phone and turn it back on to ensure the updated lists are active before you make your next call.

iPhone

To update your iPhone's roaming capability:

  1. Open Settings and select the General Category.
  2. Scroll down to the bottom and select Reset.
  3. Choose Reset Network Settings. If you have a security code, you are prompted to enter it, and then you are prompted to confirm the reset.

The Reset Network Settings confirmation prompt appears at the bottom of the Reset screen.

Warning

Although this is Verizon's recommended iPhone procedure, it resets all your phone's network setting to the factory defaults. This reset includes your Wi-Fi settings -- it wipes out all your saved Wi-Fi networks and network passwords. It also reboots your phone.

Tip

For newer iPhones, Verizon recommends periodically shutting off your phone and removing the SIM card to force a reset of both the phone and the network.

Force Your Phone to Reconnect to the Network

Sometimes your phone connects to a cell tower with poor reception and doesn't look for a tower with better reception even though one might be available. This may happen, for example, if you have a good connection in one room and then move to another room where reception is weak. Although it's normally a good thing for your phone to avoid changing cell towers frequently because cell tower-hopping drains battery life, you can force your phone to disconnect from the cell tower and search for a stronger connection.

The simplest way to connect to a new cell tower is to reboot your phone. For a quicker method turn Airplane Mode on, wait a few moments, and then turn Airplane Mode off again. In both cases, when your cellular service restarts, your phone automatically finds the cell tower with the strongest signal in your current location.

Airplane Mode is the first selection in the iPhone Settings screen

Hardware Solutions

Verizon sells hardware signal boosters to boost the strength of the Verizon signal in your home or other building. The booster requires wired high-speed Internet access. Although there's a good chance that a signal booster will improve your reception, it's not guaranteed. If reception is poor because of thick or heavily insulated walls or floors, which is common in industrial buildings, even a signal booster may not penetrate sufficiently to give you strong reception.

Warning

Beware inexpensive stick-on circuits that claim to boost your phone reception. Although they're cheap and sound great, there's no evidence that they do anything other than lighten your wallet. As with many things, you get what you pay for, and effective cell signal boosters aren't cheap.