Mobile broadband is wireless wide area network (WWAN) technology. It operates on a network of towers transmitting radio waves used for cellular phone service. Broadband is a similar technology providing high-speed Internet access for smartphones and other Internet enabled portable devices such as laptops and tablet computers. Broadband service providers are working to meet customer expectations of for high-speed capabilities similar to landline-based broadband and uninterrupted global access to services. However, broadband signals are subject to many of the same interferences that plague standard cell phone signals.
The strength and availability of broadband signals to reach mobile devices is highly dependent upon the locations of towers, and the towers being on the service provider's network. Metropolitan areas have a greater concentration of towers because of their population density.
Broadband signals from the towers face many obstacles to reach the mobile device. Outside the obstacles can be buildings, trees, hills and mountains and signage. Inside, the radio waves can "bounce" and be redirected by objects, causing multipath interference. The shell of cars, planes, trains and buildings are other obstacles that can block signals, limiting stronger signals to areas near windows and doors.
Materials used to construct homes, offices and other buildings are also considered obstacles to mobile broadband signals. The concrete and metals used in construction often block or weaken signals depending upon the size and overall construction of the building. Quantum-Wireless notes that the concrete for floors of multi-story buildings is poured into large metal pans that completely block most radio signals. Other culprits include aluminum siding and roofing materials, the wire mesh in stucco exteriors, some sold foam insulation and the insulation and pressed board sheeting with a foil backing. Metal window screens and energy efficient tinted windows can interfere with mobile broadband signals as well.
Radio waves emitted by cell towers for mobile broadband are diminished by moisture in the air, whether it's high humidity or rain. Electromagnetic fields around speakers, microwave ovens, radios, TVs and other electrical devices cause interference with signals. Too many mobile broadband signals in an area that has multiple providers can also cause interference; that's why it's good to shut the device down completely every now and then, by temporarily removing the battery. Once it's turned back on, it will reconnect with the correct provider's signals from the nearest tower.
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