Mobile Network Reception Coverage Issues - Reception falls to 0-1 bars with 3 - This has been happening for 4 days in two different cities 40+ miles apart

Found 12th Jan 2015
Hi, I have a question re mobile phone reception, which I'm hoping someone can shed some light on. I am with '3' and have been for 3-4years and haven't had a problem with them. The 3 SIM card has worked fine in several phones, and as expected I have had some bouts of bad reception, but on the whole I've been happy with 3. I recently got a Samsung Galaxy S5, and put the 3 sim in it. It has been working fine for about 7-10 days, but on Friday I started having problems with reception. Prior to the issues, I would in my living room get a solid 3 bars of reception on the Galaxy S5 for the 7-10 days I had it, but on the Friday I couldn't get any reception. If I was lucky id get 1 bar but then that would disappear. I spoke to 3 and they said one of the masts in my area was having issues and they were working on it, so it would be fine in a week. They told me the postcodes of the areas that were affected and said it'll be fine in other areas. What I found when I left the affected postcodes I was still no better on reception. I called back and was told that since I was 3 miles out of the area it could still be affecting it. However, today I am in Manchester, and have been here all day and I still have the problem in my hotel. But what I find strange is that I have 1 bar of reception when the phone is not being used, but when I make a call it goes to full bars. It then drops back down to 1 again. When I receive a call it goes back to full again. I find this very strange. The issue is that the phone is currently hovering at 0-1 bars when not being used, but goes to full when a call is made or received. The same happens outside, but my baseline reception bars are 2-3 and then go up to full upon making a receiving a call and drop back dozen again when there is no active call. Any ideas why this is?
Could this be an issue with the 3 network? Or a Faulty SIM card? Or a faulty phone? Im thinking it won't be the phone as it us a new phone and it worked perfectly for 7-10 days, and it hasn't had any knocks or falls etc so can't see how the phone would have come faulty. And if it was a faulty phone would there just simply be a loss of signal totally?
Community Updates
* dozen = down
* us = is
If your phone actually works OK, why worry about the bars on the screen?

They are only a rough guide to signal strength.
When it drops to 0 bars it no longer works in terms of receiving or making calls. It's only at 1 bar that it goes back up again, but at 0 it's dead in terms of calls
as far as im aware...the so called 'signal strength' bars are completely meaningless and bear no relation to the actual signal received.
I hear what you're saying but what I'm finding strange is how they shoot up to full bars upon making or receiving a call and then drop down to 1. This is new. It did not happen on my previous phone nor did it happen to the Galaxy S5 for the first 7-10 days. It happened out of the blue last Friday and has continued. The issue is when it drops to zero I cannot make or receive a call. As you say, although it may not be an accurate indicator of signal strength when it's on 0 bars I cannot make it receive calls, and worryingly It is now zero bars in the exact places where prior to Friday I had 3 bars - full reception.
I guess the only way you will find out for sure, is to try your Sim Card in another phone at the same location.

If it works OK, then it will be your phone that is faulty.

If not, it will be the Sim Card or network.
Yeah that's gotta be worth a try - although not all phones have the same reception capability - but worth a shot to see the disparity if any.
I had poor signal once, exchanged the phone 3 times but ended up being the SIM card!

hope you get it sorted
Even if no bars are showing but not ¢ (a circle with a forward slash like a motorway national speed sign) is shown, you can still get and make calls. The number of bars is irrelevant.
Sorry, I should've said that when it goes down to 0 bars it does show the sign you refer to Sabp, the circle with a forward slash and as a result I am unable to make any calls.
Apogee00 really? I'll get the SIM card changed and see how I get on.
They have a signal app.
Sofiasar can you give me more info plz
Two things:
1) I also have Three and a Galaxy S 5. Initially I used a Tesco Mobile SIM and the network was mostly alright. My place always had some sort of network black hole, but I did still get a fairly decent signal. I changed the SIM to Three and I've had my phone next to me and received texts to tell me I have a new voicemail - even though the phone has been powered on and sat next to me - but it never rang. This has happened probably an equal amount of times to actually receiving a call. I've had DAYS go by without receiving texts. If it weren't for the fact I use Facebook and WhatsApp as my preferred communications method I would be tempted to bin the phone.

2) You can safely ignore the bars unless you get the little circle with a line through it (like a No Entry sign). Because phones are demanding on their batteries, one of the ways to deal with the power hungry processes is to keep the radio in a low-power state. This means your phone will try to stay alive on the network but keep the radio and the minimum possible operating mode. In theory when you do finally request network operation like making a call or sending a text, your bars will jump back up again as the phone communicates with the towers around you.

So there you have it. The phone is both rubbish and not rubbish. I'd jump off the Three bandwagon because their network is pathetic. I only keep the contract for the 4G and the fairly decent deal I've got.
This sounds like you are on 4g until you make a call as the handset will need to fallback to 3g for you to be able to make a call and therefor may explain the difference in signal strength.

I would try switching off 4g om your phone for a day to see if it makes a difference.

This sounds like you are on 4g until you make a call as the handset will … This sounds like you are on 4g until you make a call as the handset will need to fallback to 3g for you to be able to make a call and therefor may explain the difference in signal strength. I would try switching off 4g om your phone for a day to see if it makes a difference.

Sorry but this is wrong.

4G is for data. Mobile phones use 3G for voice calls. The 3G standard was created before the mobile internet took off, so basically the network was voice only and data was tunnelled through separately.

4G has been created with data in mind only. The only time you'll use 4G on a voice call is with a service like Skype.

Also, phones are intuitive enough to drop their connection type as and when they need to, which is why you'll still see the 3G and G (GPRS) network symbols on these newer handsets.
That is the point I am making that he may have a weak 4g as he states when he makes a call it jumps to full bars so would suggest he has dropped back onto 3g
The point he is also making is that the 'stop sign' shows which means there is no network signal whatsoever.

This has nothing to do with 4G.
That's what was happening to me and my OH couldn't get through to me at home so I left last week and went to another network. If you turn your phone off them on again it sometimes helps if there's no Signal and you need to make a call.
Thanks a lot everyone for your input. I appreciate your contribution.

@ dkl_uk I've been doing a bit of research and it does seem as though the galaxy S5 isn't the best for signal in the first place. The points you highlighted do make sense. I personally haven't had an issue with Three up until now, for me the network coverage has been good, it has been comparable to T.Mobile, and this was 2 years ago, and one would assume Three would have become better since.
The second point you raise about the signal bars not being an accurate representation of the actual network signal strength is something I have been told several times now - but what I can't understand is that for the first 7-10 days I had the new samsung galaxy s5 (old sim though ) it was perfectly fine, (and also the past 3 years in a couple of different handsets the signal has been fine) the phone displayed full signal bars most of the time, in some rare cases it would drop by one bar, so it still displayed 3. I just can't understand what has happened after the first 7-10 days for the signal bars displayed to drop so low.. My concern was that maybe the phone is faulty or has developed a fault with the antenna/radio which is causing this.
Have you recently updated your firmware? I.e. did you get an update notification that resulted in the phone downloading a package and rebooting, upgrading your Operating System and rebooting? These updates contain "modems" which is basically a piece of software that controls the Radios (Bluetooth, WiFi, Network) and can sometimes degrade performance, to the benefit (sometimes) of the battery.

Regardless I'm afraid I have personally found no fix for this, and I do tinker with the software and operating system quite a lot. You may find that speaking to Three and complaining could result in you getting a signal booster for your home, but that won't help when you're out and about.

@ dkl_uk No, I've done nothing of the sort. No updates or anything. The reception was perfectly gone for about 7-10 days. Since I only just got the phone the only thing I downloaded are Apps. No system or firmware update. Then after about 7-10 days of use with the reception being really good, mainly full bars, it just fell to 0-1 and at times to the sign which was like the no entry signs. This just happened all of a sudden one morning - no system updates, firmware updates or updates of any sort.

My fear was that the phone may have a faulty antenna, or radio as you put it. But if that was the case wouldn't I have had the bad reception from day 1 when I got the phone and not 7-10 days later?

Based on your experience I guess there is no fix really. And since I'm no good with technology I have no hope. I guess if it's the network I can just hope they sort it out, till then I guess it's worth a try getting a signal booster, even though it won't help when I'm away from home
Considering we both have the same phone and use the same network and are seeing the same issues I just think this is a mixture of phone and network degradation. Of course this is very easy to test, you could always just find one of the "Free SIM" deals on here and stick it in the phone to check out how many times the network drops out.

I don't think Three can pass through concrete very well though. My place saps mobile phone networks to an abyss.
@ dkl_uk I think you are right. I do think it's more the network than the phone though. I was contemplating sending the phone back if there was a possibility it's faulty as it's a new phone, but I don't want to be sending it back if it's not the actual device that's faulty. And with you having the same issues as well it'll be a coincident that it's the device. I'll look for a free sim deal and test the phone out too
Just to update.... I got a replacement dim card from 3 but still faced the same problem (tested it either the replacement SIM card for 3 hours) and saw the same signal bars as I was seeing with the previous SIM card. I then tried another providers SIM card, Talk Talk to be precise, and the signal shot up to full 4 bars. So in the room where I am getting 2 bars of coverage with the Three network I got a solid 4 with Talk Talk. I also checked it out with Talk Talk on my typical short journey outside and where I was getting 2 and 1 bars of signal with Three, I got 4 and 3 bars of signal with Talk Talk. I tested the Talk Talk sim out for about 2-3 hours aswell.

I do appreciate the signal bars are not an accurate reflection of coverage, and I did look at the signal strength by checking the dMb as welling I found that with the three network I got between -96 and -99 dMb and at the exact same place I got between -81 and -88 dMB with Talk Talk. I guess I can conclude that the actual phone is not faulty and it is three's network that is playing up.
Tested it *with*
As well*
Thanks for the feedback, just confirms my thoughts. Looks like a move away from Three as soon as possible then. Shame that, they're the only network to give me what I need in terms of data allowance.
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