The Dang AT&T Signal In Rural Areas - Information from the AT&T Community
Learn why your wireless signal is weak in some areas and not in others
Rural areas are very different from the city. In areas like Dallas, your neighbor is a stone's throw away. In Rural areas like Smiley Texas, your neighbor could be a few miles away. More people live in a square mile in a big city compared to a small town. The nature of the area can impact service.
Things to know about rural areas
- The Signal will be strong in the city center
- Congestion can affect services at different times of the day
- Structures can interfere with wireless signals
- AT&T may not have the strongest signal
My Experience in Being In the Middle of Nowhere
We have some land in Southeast Texas that my dad, mentors, and I go to get away from “city life”. The nearest neighbor is a mile or so away and the closest metropolitan city is about 2 hours away. I have been going there before I joined AT&T. I’ve been going there since I was 8 years old so I’ve seen a lot of changes, including the evolution of the AT&T network going from 2G to 5G. I have seen the signal improve in certain areas and in others, stay relatively the same. I have seen my dad use an old-school Motorola Bag Phone, until it became obsolete, to what we use now, our smart device. There was a time when in order to send a text or make a call, you had to go to the sweet part of the ranch. Nowadays, you can send a text from most areas. On top of that, we can stream football on Sundays without issue. But here is the thing, not all areas get a strong signal. In rural areas, there are going to be areas the signal is not cutting it. It is the nature of being in a rural area.
Some buildings are built a bit differently in the country
We built a bunkhouse of sorts to store a few things and when it got too cold, hung out in with the cast-iron stove to keep us warm. It even has a porch of sorts where we could enjoy the rain, conversation, and meals. As small as it was, it did its job for our everyday needs. But, calls, texts, and data would not work or barely. It was small so its technological signature should have been null. So, why would service be an issue while in the 12 by 20 bunkhouse but when you stepped a couple of feet away, it worked no problem. One answer is the tin-roof. Yes, the roof, which was less than ¼ centimeter thick, was causing the issue. Metal in general is a kryptonite of sorts for a mobile signal.
Speaking of metal, some buildings are built to last. This means they may be built tougher and to do that, it means tougher material. Tougher material means it is tougher for a wireless signal to go through. So, if you have a large storage building that has a metal frame and a metal roof, that is going to affect service. Again, metal is not good. If you notice you can’t make calls while inside but outside no problem, it is the structure and AT&T is limited on what we can do to address this.
So, thinking about the above and factoring in the number of towers in a rural area, how your home & storage areas are built, and the materials used, you can see how all those variables combined can affect service. On top of that, you factor in the environment, your location compared to the towers, ground elements, and the terrain, which adds more reasons why a signal may be weak. It also explains why service is better in the center of town compared it the outskirts. of it.
Location, Signal, & Carriers
As mentioned in the Middle of Nowhere section, some areas will improve over time, some may not. There may be a part of town where AT&T has a great signal and another where it does not. I was on the top of Angels Landing in Zion National Park with my girlfriend. I have AT&T, she has a competitor, I had service, very little, but enough to get texts out. She had nothing. While driving around Zion, there were areas her service was better than mine and vice versa. There may multiple carriers but just one gets a good signal in certain parts of town. One carrier may be stronger while another is not. A cause of this, is tower alignment. Towers are aligned to best serve the area and not all carriers are going to have the same alignment. Sometimes there is a clear winner of who provides better service and others that do not. Sometimes there is not an issue with the carrier signal but as mentioned above, different factors can affect the signal at your exact location.
Rural Areas & Hot Spots – What You Need to Know
In areas where home internet is not available, hotspots tend to be one of many internet options for our customers. So not only are smartphones connecting to the wireless network but there are also hotspots and other devices where traditional internet may have been the internet source. Here is the rub, just like traffic during rush hour, there is digital traffic. The more people on the digital wireless highway, the more traffic which means slower speeds. So, when you are driving home at 5p in a metropolitan city, cars have to slow down because of the added drives on the road. The same goes for the wireless network. When this happens AT&T has to add digital speed limits to ensure everyone has the best signal possible. When it comes to hotspot speeds, it may be great at one part of the day and others, slower than normal. Factor in that your town is a great place to live, more people start to move there and that means the chance of congestion. This is normal, even in downtown areas like LA or Dallas.
ChrisZ, AT&T Community Specialist