How to get the best mobile network coverage

Check which mobile networks provide the best phone coverage in your area

Each of the major network operators provide mobile coverage checkers to test the signal strength and network coverage in your area.

Shop around if you're looking for a new contract or your current one is coming to an end. Mobile network coverage can change as technology and infrastructure is upgraded, so what network was best in your location a year or two ago may not be the same today.

You should also check mobile coverage for locations that you visit regularly, like place of work / study, and routes along your commute.

Choose a mobile phone with 4G or 5G network support

The latest generation of network infrastructure such as 4G and 5G technology provide better signal coverage and data speeds for mobile devices that can support them. Check that your mobile phone is 4G or 5G compatible for the best service.

Also some mobile networks and masts broadcast on different frequencies in different locations. A mobile phone that can support more radio frequencies is able to use whichever one has the strongest signal in your area. Check your mobile handset model specifications and network provider for full compatibility.

Keep your mobile phone software and operating system updated

Software updates can provide new features and improvements to your mobile phone, which can include better network support and improved signal coverage.

You will usually receive a notification when a software update is available for your mobile phone, but you can always double check for upgrades, which are usually located under your phone settings. Check the instructions for your particular device model to find out how to receive and install updates for your mobile handset.

Use WiFi Calling if it available on your network and mobile plan

Wi-Fi Calling allows you to make phone calls and even send SMS text messages from your mobile device over a wifi network connection. To be able to make a Wifi call you need:

  • A compatible mobile handset with Wi-Fi Calling capability (check you phone model's specs and software settings).
  • A mobile network provider that features WiFi Calling and a SIM plan that includes it.
  • A Wi-Fi network router to connect to, usually a home broadband, at work, school or on a free public WiFi.

Check if your network provider offers a signal booster box

Some mobile network operators can provide mobile signal booster boxes which connect to a broadband router to send your mobile calls and texts over the internet, similar to how WiFi Calling works.

Ask your mobile network provider if a signal booster box is available if you get no signal reception or are having mobile coverage issues in your area. These devices are known by different names, for example: EE Signal Box, O2 Boostbox, Three Home Signal and Vodafone Sure Signal.

Check your mobile phone antenna is not blocked

You may remember that before smartphones, earlier generations of mobile phones (also known as feature phones) had their antennae sticking out of the handset like an aerial. Thankfully designs and technology have improved since then and antennas are now built inside the device.

Even so, internal antennas have presented their own problems. Most famously when the iPhone 4 was released in 2010 with reports that holding it in a particular way could block the antenna resulting in poor or no signal and dropped phone calls.

Those antenna issues have since been resolved but if you are having signal trouble and use a mobile phone case it doesn't hurt to try without the case to see if that makes a difference. Good mobile phone cases are designed not to block your device's antenna signal but it's worth trying it without a case to see if there is any improvement.

Finally, you can always contact your mobile network provider to let them know if you are having problems with your signal and network coverage. They may offer a custom solution and/or look to upgrade the infrastructure (like radio masts and cell towers) in that area if enough people complain.