Thursday, June 1, 2023


Cell phone signal sketchy? Wait for sunset

By Dave Helgeson

Are you a baby boomer? Do you remember the Bell Telephone television commercial about Uncle Ralph calling long distance from California and phone calls being cheaper after 8:00 p.m.? Keep that in mind next time you arrive at a remote campsite and your cell phone shows “No Service,” or is receiving such a poor signal that you cannot complete a call.

Many times that unusable signal becomes usable once the sun sets. Why? Electromagnetic interference from the sun distorts and degenerates radio signals of all types during the day. If you listen to a radio in your RV or tow vehicle at night you have most likely experienced this phenomenon — being able to listen to distant radio stations (especially AM stations) hundreds or in some cases thousands of miles away. Turn on the radio the next morning and you receive nothing but static.

The same thing holds true, although to a lesser extent, with cell phones. I have arrived at many remote boondocking locations and found my cell phone without a usable signal. Checking my phone once the sun has set shows a much stronger signal and the ability to complete a call or send a text.

So the next time you find yourself setting up camp during the day without a usable cell signal, remember “Uncle Ralph” and try again while sitting around the evening campfire. It just may allow you to place that needed call.


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