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Call Drops: Understanding Dropped Calls, Their Causes, and How To Fix Them

This article was published on February 23, 2024

It’s annoying if your phone drops calls during personal conversations, but it can be downright disastrous if it happens on a business call. Every call dropped can lead to an unsatisfied customer, a frustrated supplier, or even losses in productivity and profitability.

 

Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of dropped calls, the impacts they can have, and what causes dropped calls on cell phones, landlines, and cloud calling solutions. Then, most importantly, we’ll look at some of the steps you can take to avoid them.

Photo of woman talking on her cell phone

What Are Call Drops or Dropped Calls?

Dropped calls refer to any instance where a phone call is disconnected after it’s been picked up. If a phone conversation is interrupted because the call was disconnected, without either party doing anything to disconnect it, that’s a call drop.

Unfortunately, call drops can occur at any time, for a multitude of reasons. You can experience a dropped phone call whether you’re using a landline, a cell phone, or a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone system.

How To Fix Dropped Calls on a Cell Phone

There are many different factors that could lead to a dropped call when using a cell phone. If fewer dropped calls when using your cell phone is one of your aims, don’t worry; there are a variety of fixes depending on what’s causing your problems. 

1. Weak Cell Signal

When you make a call on your cell phone, the signal that transmits and receives the call travels from your phone to the nearest cell tower. If you’re a long distance away from the nearest cell tower, you’ll probably find that your cell reception is pretty low. This can lead to dropped calls.

Look at a cell service coverage map to see what the signal’s like in the area you typically work from. If one side of the building is closer to a tower, you could try making your business calls from a room on that side.

If nowhere in your building is close enough to a tower to provide good reception, you could consider switching over to wi-fi calling instead.

2. Blocked Cell Reception

A reduced signal on your cell phone isn’t always caused by being too far from a cell tower. Sometimes, physical objects between you and the cell tower you’re connected to can block the signal, leading to dropped calls.

Buildings, bridges, hills, and even large trees can all contribute to your cell reception being blocked, causing you to drop calls unexpectedly. 

Some building materials are worse at blocking cell phone signals than others, so you might even find that your cell reception varies from building to building. 

You can avoid blocked cell reception by making calls from open areas or higher ground. Of course, this isn’t always feasible. If you work from the ground floor of an office block downtown, you might need to consider alternative options. 

A signal booster for your cell phone can help. This is a device that amplifies the radio signals used by your cell phone, allowing them to better pass through obstacles, and improving your reception. Even removing your phone from its case can make a difference.

3. It’s Too Crowded

Cell towers can only handle a certain amount of traffic. A cell tower that’s handling too much traffic can become overwhelmed, leading to dropped calls for some of the people using it.

This problem can be exacerbated by configuration issues with the cell tower, or by people using apps that demand a lot of bandwidth, such as mobile games. 

If a call keeps dropping and you look around and see a lot of people playing a location based mobile game like Pokémon GO, you might need to try moving to a different area before making the call again.

If you work in a busy office environment, you might find that it’s always too crowded to avoid dropping calls. In this scenario, switching to wi-fi calling may help, as it can typically handle increased call traffic more effectively.

4. Faulty SIM Card

Dropped calls aren’t always the result of bad cell reception. A cell phone relies on a large number of different components, and a fault with any one of these can lead to your phone dropping calls.

A perfect example of this would be the SIM card. It’s the tiny plastic card with a chip that you probably installed in your phone when you first bought it, then never thought about again.

SIM cards help cell service providers to associate your mobile device with your individual account, meaning they’re needed to correctly route calls. If yours is faulty, it could prevent your provider from routing calls to and from your cell phone, leading to dropped calls.

If you think damage to your SIM card might be causing dropped calls, try ejecting it from your cell phone and examining it. If it’s scratched, bent, or chipped in any way you might need to order a new one.

You could consider switching over to an eSIM, which is essentially a reprogrammable SIM card that’s built into your device. Because they’re a fixed part of your cell phone and don’t need to be removed or replaced, they’re typically less susceptible to wear and tear.

5. Out of Date OS

Cell phone operating systems are constantly being updated, adding new features, improving processes and fixing bugs. 

If you find that your phone keeps dropping calls, it could be that you haven’t updated your OS to the latest version. The OS you’re running might have an unexpected bug that’s creating a problem with dropped calls, which has been fixed in the latest release.

If you’re experiencing dropped calls on your cell phone, checking you’re running the latest OS version is one of the easiest fixes.

Both Android and iOS are regularly updated, so try navigating to your settings and see if there’s a crucial update waiting that might fix your call drops.

Consider turning on auto-update so that OS updates will download and install automatically, saving you from having to manually update your OS on a regular basis.

6. Phone Settings Need Changing

Modern cell phones feature a multitude of customizable settings. They’re great for personalizing your experience, but it’s possible that altering the wrong setting at the wrong time could lead to your calls dropping.

In particular, date and time, caller ID, and data permission settings could play a role in causing dropped calls.

If your cell phone keeps dropping calls, navigate to your settings and check that everything’s in order. In particular, make sure that your device has the correct date and time set, and that you’ve got caller ID activated.

7. Weather

You’d like to think that our cell phones have evolved beyond being affected by the weather. They can monitor your heart rate and record 4K video, after all, surely a bit of rain can’t stop them making calls?

Most of the time, that’s true. An unusually heavy downpour, thunderstorm, or snow flurry could pose an issue, though. Weather phenomena such as these could be responsible for interrupting the wavelength frequency of radio signals from cell towers, leading to dropped calls.

Unfortunately there’s not much we can do to control the weather. If you look outside and see there’s a thunderstorm rolling in, you might just need to wait until it's passed to make any important business calls.

VoIP phone systems are typically less impacted by the weather, though, so if you live in a state that experiences a lot of downpours, you might consider switching over to one of those.

How To Fix Dropped Calls on a Traditional Landline

It’s not just cell phones that can experience dropped calls. Landlines can be susceptible, too. Here are some of the top reasons you may experience calls dropping when using a landline phone and how to fix them:

1. Issues With Wiring or Equipment

Landline phones rely on a multitude of different wires to make and receive calls. An issue with any one of these can lead to dropped calls.

Loose connections, damaged wiring, or problems with your phone jack can all result in calls dropping. Similarly, a damaged handset might also lead to dropped calls.

Check your landline phone hardware for any apparent damage or loose connections. You may be able to fix the problem by doing something as simple as plugging your landline phone cable into the socket more securely.

If the actual handset, or the landline jack, are severely damaged, they may need to be replaced in order for you to resume making calls.

2. Interference

It’s not unheard of for electrical interference to lead to dropped calls when using a cordless landline phone. Electronic devices like internet routers and even microwave ovens can disrupt the signal of a cordless landline phone.

If you’re using a cordless landline phone, try to avoid positioning yourself near such devices when making calls. The more devices between your wireless handset and its base unit, the more chance there is that you might experience dropped calls.

3. Congestion

You might find that you experience dropped calls on a landline phone at peak times, especially in densely populated areas. If the network is experiencing severe congestion, some calls may be disconnected.

If you can, try to avoid making important business calls at peak times, as this is when your chances of experiencing dropped calls due to congestion are highest.

If you can’t afford to postpone your calls until after peak times, you might need to investigate alternatives, such as VoIP phone systems, which are less affected by congestion on the line.

4. Network Outages

It’s not just faults on the hardware in your home or office that can lead to dropped calls. Technical problems at the telephone service provider’s end can also have an impact.

Central office issues, network outages, and even routine maintenance work on the line can all result in calls dropping when using a landline phone.

Unfortunately, network outages are largely out of your control. If you know you’ve got important calls to make, it’s worth checking with your landline phone service provider to see if any maintenance or service outages are scheduled, then planning your calls around them.

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How To Fix Dropped Calls When You’re Cloud Calling

As we’ve mentioned a few times already, switching to VoIP and cloud phone systems can help you experience fewer dropped calls. Those systems are typically very reliable and offer an elevated quality of service (QoS).  

However, very occasionally they can suffer dropped calls, too, just as landlines and cell phones can. Here are some of the top causes of call drops when you’re calling over the internet and what to do about them:

1. Poor Network Connection

Because cloud calling relies on the internet, a poor network connection can impact call quality, even leading to dropped calls in the worst case scenario. 

This is more common when using wireless networks, as obstacles can reduce the strength of your network connection, just as they can inhibit your cell phone reception.

If you want to prevent a poor network connection from leading to dropped calls, you need to take steps to check the status of your connection. 

The best cloud phone providers will notify you if your network connection may be hindering your call quality, allowing you to take steps to rectify the problem before you start making calls.

This could be using a signal booster to make sure that you have a strong wi-fi connection throughout your home or office, removing other pieces of technology that may be interfering with your wi-fi signal, or switching to a wired connection if necessary.

2. Low Internet Speed

You may also experience dropped calls when cloud calling if you’re hooked up to a low speed internet connection. The speed of your internet service can vary due to a few factors, including:

  • The type of connection you’re using — dial-up, broadband, satellite, fiber

  • The internet plan you’re on and the connection speed you’re paying for

  • The capabilities of the device you’re using — 4G enabled cell phone vs 5G enabled cell phone

  • The number of people sharing your internet connection

  • The number of other applications running on your device

While most modern internet connections are designed to provide fast speeds, not everybody has the luxury of a high speed internet connection. Typically, rural areas experience slower internet speeds than urban environments. 

Internet speeds can vary greatly from state to state and city to city. Research conducted by highspeedinternet.com found that there was a large variation in the average download speeds between states in 2023. While Connecticut saw an average download speed of 194.07 Mbps, West Virginia only saw an average download speed of 134.74 Mbps.

If you’re using a mobile internet connection, the internet speed you experience will depend on the capabilities of your device, and the connections available to you.

If you think a low internet speed might be affecting your dropped call rate, the first step is check the speed of your connection. There are plenty of websites that can do this for you.

If you find that your internet speed is lower than ideal, fixes you can try to boost your connection speed include switching to a high speed internet connection, such as fiber, with your internet provider or paying for higher maximum speeds on your internet plan.

You could also try reducing the number of people trying to connect to your router at the same time, or investing in additional/routers/signal boosters if this isn’t possible.

3. Service Provider Issues

Issues on your end of the connection are usually responsible for calls dropping when using a cloud calling system. It’s also possible, however, that issues with your service provider could be to blame.

If your VoIP service provider is experiencing server outages, technical problems with their hardware, or is having issues with their infrastructure, then you may see an interruption to your service that leads to you dropping calls.

It’s also possible that routine maintenance or updates to your service provider’s app could cause dropped calls, although in most cases you should be made aware of this in advance.

Dropped calls could also be the result of similar problems with your internet service provider.

In these scenarios, contact your providers to see if they’re experiencing any problems. If they are, there’s not much else you can do other than sit back and wait for them to fix the problem. Most service providers will issue an online service status for your particular product or region.

To find this, just search online for the name of your internet or VoIP provider, followed by “service status”. This will usually provide you with a web page where you can enter your zip code or geographic location to see if there’s a network coverage issue in your area.

If you’ve got a lot of important business calls to make on a particular day, it’s worth checking in advance with your providers to see if they’ve got any maintenance scheduled. If they have, and it’s likely to result in service outages, you can plan around them.

4. Firewall and Security Settings

According to ISACA’s 2023 State of Security Report, 48% of organizations reported an increase in cyberattacks compared to 2022. With the number of cyberattacks on businesses increasing, robust security has never been more important.

However, the stronger the security measures you implement, the more chance there is that they could block connections that you’re actively trying to make.

If your firewall settings or security protocols are too strict, you might find that they block or disrupt your VoIP traffic, leading to dropped calls.

Most cloud calling solutions will feature customizable security settings that should allow you to align their requirements with your external security software. They’ll also notify you of any other programs that may be impacting your ability to make or receive calls successfully.

5. Bandwidth Issues

VoIP services require a fair amount of bandwidth, and the more phone lines you’re running, the more bandwidth you need.

If you’re running an environment that requires a lot of phone lines to be active at once, such as an outbound sales call center, or an inbound customer contact center, you’ll need to have an internet connection that can support them. If you don’t, you might find that calls keep dropping as a result.

It’s worth remembering that VoIP phone lines aren’t the only factor affecting bandwidth usage. Other activities that use bandwidth include:

  • Streaming videos online

  • Hosting video conferences

  • Web browsing

  • Playing video games online

  • Downloading music

So, depending on who else is using your internet connection, and what they’re using it for, you could see a call drop if you don’t have sufficient bandwidth.

If low bandwidth is leading to you dropping calls, then your best option is to increase your available bandwidth. This might mean paying for a more expensive plan from your internet service provider, or simply reducing the number of other activities that take place over your internet connection while you’re making VoIP calls.

It’s worth checking with your VoIP provider to see what bandwidth they recommend for their service, and how feasible it is for you to achieve this on a regular basis.

6. Router Configuration

Incorrect router settings or network configurations can interfere with VoIP traffic, which can in turn lead to dropped calls. 

For example, issues with Quality of Service (QoS) settings can affect call quality and stability, leading to dropped calls. Because VoIP relies on consistent and prioritized data transmission, misconfigured QoS settings that aren’t optimized for VoIP traffic can cause other data activities to take precedence. This could result in latency, poor quality, and even dropped calls.

Similarly, some routers might use default settings that block or filter certain ports used by VoIP protocols. This can prevent proper communication between your VoIP devices and their servers, leading to difficulty establishing connections.

It’s possible to prioritize VoIP traffic on your network by configuring the QoS settings on your router. This will ensure that VoIP packets are given higher priority over other data types, reducing the likelihood that calls will be dropped due to network congestion.

7. Software Issues

You usually need to use an app or web-based interface to access a hosted phone system. If the app you’re using is out of date, or is experiencing bugs that haven’t been fixed by the service provider, then you might find yourself dropping calls.

If you want to avoid dropped calls, it’s important to ensure that the app you use to make VoIP calls is updated to the newest version. Service providers regularly implement bug fixes and security updates that may be required for you to make calls uninterrupted.

Dangers For Your Business if You Leave Call Drops Unchecked

Regardless of what industry your business operates in, it’s in your best interests to reduce your call drop rate as much as possible. 

A high call drop rate can negatively affect your customers, your brand reputation, your relationship with your suppliers and vendors, and ultimately, your bottom line.

Poor Customer Service

Customers usually call your business helpline or contact center looking for a solution to a problem. Being disconnected in the middle of a call is likely to be incredibly frustrating. 

Not only does this make your brand seem unprofessional to the customer, but it might well result in them taking their purchases elsewhere in the future.

There’s also the added risk that the customer will share their negative feedback with their friends and family, or even by leaving a negative review online. This can harm your brand reputation, and lead to further lost sales. 

Damaged Relationships With Vendors and Suppliers

Your vendors and suppliers expect to have hassle free communication with you just as much as your customers. 

Dropping calls when speaking to suppliers and vendors makes you seem unprofessional, and could reduce the likelihood that other companies will want to do business with you.

Loss of Opportunities

Imagine being on the phone with a potential new supplier. You’re in the middle of hammering out a lucrative new agreement that’ll dramatically reduce the cost of sourcing components. Suddenly, without warning, the line goes dead. 

At best, you’ll have to make a groveling apology for being cut off. At worst, the supplier might change their mind about the whole deal.

Dropped calls can lead to lost opportunities with suppliers. What’s more, they can also ruin potential sales if you’re running an outbound sales contact center, damaging relationships with promising new customers. 

Decreased Productivity

Dropped calls can hinder productivity within your organization. Employees will likely need to spend extra time reconnecting with customers or dealing with technical issues, when they could be focusing on their primary tasks.

Risk to Compliance

It’s even possible that dropped calls could lead to compliance issues in some industries. Due to call interruptions, important conversations or transactions might not be properly documented or completed, which can be required by law in some states.

Guard Against Call Drops by Using the Right Communications Platform

Frequent dropped calls can spell disaster for businesses. From damaged relationships to decreased productivity, they hurt your reputation, and your bottom line.

It’s imperative that every business takes steps to guard against call drops; and choosing the right communications platform is the first step.

Vonage Business Communications (VBC) is a flexible cloud communications solution that can be used on desk phones, cell phones and desktop computers. With VBC, your business can benefit from high quality calling and video conferencing, a host of valuable features, and more. 

In fact, VBC is built with flexibility and ease of use in mind. For example, the VBC Mobile App gives you access to your business communications on iPhone, Android, and iPad, from virtually anywhere. That helps support remote and hybrid workers, and also ensures you can stay in touch when on the move. 

Get in touch with a Vonage expert today to see for yourself how VBC can help you to eliminate dropped calls from your organization.

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