Common Mobile Network Problems and How to Avoid Them

Take steps to prevent the most common mobile network problems

Mobile broadband networks suffer their fair share of problems, but troubleshooting them is, for the most part, straightforward.

Can’t Get a 4G/LTE (or Any) Signal

man holding cell phone
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Some wireless providers offer much better 4G coverage than others depending on the location. Different models of phones pick up cell signals better than others. Research the network reach of the cellular providers in your home area before you buy a mobile device and sign up for wireless service. Keep your devices upgraded with software and firmware updates too, as glitches in them can also affect network reliability. If the signal quality is poor in a place that matters, you may be able to solve the problem with a cell phone signal booster.

A quick trick? Disable data in your phone's settings and then re-enable it. The easiest shortcut toggles the phone's airplane mode. When you reconnect, the phone will search afresh for the best signal in your area.

Can’t Tether the Device

Tethering is the capability of mobile phones to be configured as Wi-Fi hotspots. While most modern smartphones support tethering, internet providers sometimes block their use or charge customers extra fees.

If you plan to use tethering, first check that your phone and service provider both support them. If they do, and your tethering setup isn’t working, restart your phone and try again.

Using Too Much Data

Most people subscribe to mobile data plans that limit how much cellular network bandwidth they can use per day or month. Modern apps, particularly those that support video streaming, can consume a month’s worth of allocation in a few hours. Tethering may also lead to a similar problem as several devices share one network connection.

Set up monitoring alarms on your devices to alert you when the network usage exceeds chosen limits. Some apps offer data usage tracking features for devices that don’t have it built-in. Additionally, you can switch your device from a cellular to Wi-Fi connection whenever possible to reduce your reliance on cellular data.

Wi-Fi Disconnects

Mobile devices with Wi-Fi lose their connection with wireless access points when they are carried outside the range of the signal. When Wi-Fi drops out, apps sometimes revert automatically to use a cellular connection if one is available and sometimes stops running altogether, depending on your device settings.

Although it’s not possible to prevent all disconnects, carefully positioning your wireless router and your device is necessary sometimes to maintain a reliable Wi-Fi signal.