Just about everyone has had the frustration of using the cell phone for an important call and having the signal suddenly drop. Unlike wired phone services, which rely primarily on fiber optic cable and physical switches to provide service within a given geographic area, cell services function with the use of towers that link to and from phones to the switching software located at the towers. When a tower is rendered temporarily inoperable for any reason, such as bad weather, a software glitch, or a momentary overload of signals to switch, calls that are in progress may disconnect and the user may find their phones flashing a “no reception available” or “dropped call” message. If a software glitch or a temporary overload of switching caused the problem, chances are the situation will be corrected in seconds, and callers can simply re-dial and resume their conversations with a new session. If weather conditions have taken the tower off line, it may take a longer period to restore service.
Many cell service providers establish what are called "service areas" with each of their plans. There will be a local calling area, an extended calling area, and then roaming service areas. For people who do not opt for extended and roaming services as part of their package, they may experience a dropped calls as they get near the boundary of the local service area. Often, they will see a message display to the effect that they cannot send or receive calls, such as “no reception” or “service not available.” Once the user moves back into the calling area, the message will disappear and calls can be made once again.
Just about every service area has locations where hilly terrain, trees, or other obstacles can interfere with the integrity of the connection. This creates what are called “dead spots” in the service area. The dead spots tend to be the major cause of dropped calls experienced while driving. Once out of the dead spot, the user can once again call out or receive calls.
Of course, there is one reason for this problem that has nothing to do with the service, the towers and software, or the calling area. Sometimes, people who own cell phones simply forget to recharge the phone in a timely manner. A cell phone operating with little power left is much more susceptible to dropping a call. Individuals can make sure that their phones have a batter that is at least half-way charged to help ensure that calls are not dropped due to lack of power to sustain the signal.
As most people can attest, dropped calls are a nuisance. At the same time, it is important for individuals to remember that, as the technology continues to advance, the incidence of this particular issue has decreased. In time, it's likely that people will be able to enjoy long stretches of time during which there's no fear of losing a call while using a cell phones, either due to technical issues, geographic obstacles, or running out of battery power.