Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Losing cell service? Try these tips to reconnect or keep the signal

By Nanci Dixon
If you are heading out of town, into the mountains or desert or other remote areas, you might start to see your cell signal dropping off. There goes one bar, and another, and another… And you were JUST about to send that email too… Darn!

Here are a few tips to reconnect if your signal seems to be fading away or if the bars keep dropping.

1. Turn on Airplane mode

The easiest and quickest way is to turn on airplane mode for a minute or two. Then turn airplane mode off and watch your cell service roll through the service bars to reconnect to your carrier. Sometimes that is enough to seek out just a bit more connection.

2. Power off your device

If Airplane mode isn’t working to reconnect and you are still losing cell signal, try powering off your device completely and then powering it back on. Just like any computer, a smartphone sometimes just gets confused and needs a reboot to make everything connect correctly again.

3. Reset network settings

A third option, though a bit more involved, is to reset your network settings. Before you do that make sure you know your passwords as you will need to put them in again. You won’t lose any files or information on your phone, but it takes the network settings back to factory defaults and wipes out your carrier, Wi-Fi network, VPN and Bluetooth passwords and network settings. Learn more about resetting the network on iPhone or resetting the network on Android.

4. Turn Wi-Fi off

If you seem to have cell service but it is abysmally slow (or just spinning), double check that your Wi-Fi is turned off and make sure that you are not connected to a Wi-Fi network. If you don’t have Wi-Fi connectivity or it is an extremely low speed with your Wi-Fi setting on, your phone may keep trying to connect to Wi-Fi and not access your cell service. 

5. Location, location, location

Sometimes nothing seems to work. It could be that you are in a cell phone dead zone and/or the carrier has no coverage in the area. Every carrier has maps of their coverage areas online so it is a good idea to check their maps before you get to a remote area. One time I did resort to climbing to the top of our motorhome to get enough service to send a work email. That was just once – now we have two different carriers so we can get service almost everywhere.

Related stories:

Tips for Wi-Fi and cell data on the road

How to boost your cellphone internet data speeds


Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.



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Donald N Wright (@guest_160150)
1 year ago

If at the Mesa Verde campground, go to the restrooms or the store.

Scott Ellis (@guest_160129)
1 year ago


Fred (@guest_160107)
1 year ago

Your comment about climbing up on top of the rv sure brings back memories. 12 years ago, when we first started fulltiming, that was how we improved our reception. Then we got a WeBoost signal booster.

tspoon (@guest_94698)
3 years ago

I set my phone on the aluminum windowsill. I get better reception.

Gary (@guest_94274)
3 years ago

Don’t do the reset option. Sometimes just waiting a little while or rebooting get service again. Resetting should be the LAST option since it will cause you to re-input a lot of settings.

Bill (@guest_94362)
3 years ago
Reply to  Gary

Yes, but the turn off, count to 20, then turn on works for most issues IF you are indeed in a service covered area. (Even at the fringe)

Doug (@guest_94254)
3 years ago

When driving in mountain areas, I often noticed the locals would pull over in certain spots to make cell calls and thought “Wow, these folks should teach driver’s ed back home” and then realized that it was the last spot they could get coverage before getting home (and avoid that drive back out and down the mountain for milk or whiskey).

Also if you go up mountains with clearer views, and I guess closer to the satellites, service can jump from 0 to full bars. On east side of Yellowstone near Mt Washburn summit I have found a few nice spots to catch up on all things electronic. Whereas much of the rest of the park is pleasantly still pristine.

Bill (@guest_94366)
3 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Most cell service (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc) are NOT satellite based. Satellite based cell service can cost upwards of $400 a month and is way more reliable than our regular tower based line of sight service. But we pay dearly for satellite based phone and service. This is what government agents and the military use when they want the most effective service.

Robbie (@guest_94199)
3 years ago

All good ideas, but our cell booster which was not mentioned is a real game changer.

Jesse Crouse (@guest_94708)
3 years ago
Reply to  Robbie

Paid close to $400,00 and several hours to install. Top line name and great reviews from truckers. Got zippo this weekend

Bill (@guest_131590)
2 years ago
Reply to  Robbie

I’ve spoken with 2 people who have bought ‘quality, top rated’ cell boosters and both said results were way below expectations. Interestingly, one of them was an RVer we were talking to while he was packing to leave from Telephone Cove on Lake Mojave near Bullhead City.

Scott Ellis (@guest_160130)
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill

They work exactly as well as the manufacturers (or WeBoost, at least) claim they work. People cannot grasp that zero times any boost factor is zero.

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