Introduction to IoT – 3G, 4G, 5G Multi Carrier Cellular Testing

In today’s modern technology landscape, cellular services are increasingly integrated into overall network plans. With rapidly advancing technology and growing competition, enterprise businesses must adopt a future-ready mindset. Cellular connectivity often plays a crucial role in these network plans, but signal strength can vary significantly based on site location, carrier (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile), and 4G or 5G application requirements. Onsite cellular testing is vital for making informed decisions about the best carrier for each site, ensuring the robust functionality of devices connected to cellular modems.

Cellular Testing Applications:

  • IoT devices
  • Network backup in case of ISP outage
  • Fire and Burglar alarm panels and Elevator communications
  • Cellular POTS lines for phone systems and other analog devices abandoning old copper lines.
  • Improve cellular signals in buildings for both employees and customers.

What is Cellular Testing:

To conduct an onsite survey effectively, a sophisticated cellular signal meter is required. This is achieved with a professional handheld device that detects and displays signal frequency, bandwidth, and strength with certainty. The device reads the signal level for all frequency ranges and bands, allowing testing for any carrier to ensure a working signal for each site. Our test equipment gathers various data points, including RSSI, RSRP, RSRQ, and SINR, providing a comprehensive cell signal report for all carriers.  You can download a real cellular testing report on this page.

  • RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator): Signal strength received at the device’s antennas.
  • RSRP (Received Signal Reference Power): Power of the signal received from the base cell tower.
  • RSRQ (Received Signal Reference): Quality of the signal received from the cell tower.
  • SINR (Signal to Interference + Noise Ratio): Another measure of signal quality received from the base station.

Our cellular test equipment goes beyond standard signal meters, providing details about nearby cell towers critical for some system designs.

How to Read a Signal Meter:

Cellular signal strength is accurately measured in decibel milliwatts (dBm). Signal strength is expressed as a negative number, typically ranging from -30 dBm to -110 dBm. Numbers closer to zero indicate stronger signals, with signals better than -85 dBm considered usable and strong. A signal weaker than -100 dBm is likely to be problematic resulting in dropped calls and incomplete data transmissions.

Can Cellular Signal Be Boosted?

Yes. Antenna boosters can be installed at the cellular device itself to improve cellular signal quality.  Additionally, buildings with a signal strength weaker than -85 dBms can benefit from a passive distributed antenna system (DAS), which captures and amplifies existing cellular signals. These systems can improve signal strength to -70 dBm or better and provide a cost-effective solution for ensuring better connectivity inside of large buildings, including commercial spaces.

Can You Use a Cell Phone for Cellular Signal Testing?

A basic analysis can be done using a cell phone by looking at the number of bars of strength. However, signal bars are not an accurate measurement of the strength of the signal your cell phone is receiving. While they do indicate something about the quality of your reception, there’s no industry standard for “this much signal equals this many bars” cell phone manufacturer uses their own calculation. When placed next to each other, two different brands of phones on the same cellular network might display a different numbers of bars.

Can a Signal Meter Detect Signals for Multiple Carriers?

Yes, signal meters are carrier-agnostic and can detect frequency and signal compatibility with any carrier. The common carriers are Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, with U.S. Cellular available in some parts of the country.

Using Multiple Cellular Carriers:

When implementing cellular devices across an enterprise, using a single carrier like Verizon may not be the ideal solution for all locations. To optimize data capabilities, it’s essential to conduct comprehensive cellular signal testing to identify the most suitable carrier at each site. This will require establishing separate business relationships with Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.  Predicting data needs for each carrier independently can be challenging, especially for on-demand IoT devices like backing up your ISP provider’s connection during outages. We propose a more effective solution to address these complexities.

Our solution involves providing access to all three major carriers. With this approach, you can acquire a consolidated monthly data plan for all your sites and aggregate that data across Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, streamlining management and ensuring optimal connectivity.

Benefits of a single sourced consolidated cellular plan:

Streamlined Data Management – The concept of purchasing a lump sum of monthly data for all sites and aggregating it across the three major carriers is a practical and efficient solution. This eliminates the challenge of predicting data needs for each carrier separately.

Example: You purchase 50G a month for all your sites, and one month you utilize 25G with Verizon, 15G with AT&T and 10G with T-Mobile.  The next month the data allocation will be different based on usage and demands from each site.

Flexibility and Cost Savings – You can get better pricing when you are purchasing a large amount of data from a single source instead of purchasing a little bit from three different carriers.

Predictable Monthly Billing – You receive a single consolidated monthly invoice instead of receiving multiply bills from different carriers.  This simplifies the internal monthly invoice approval process, and it also makes the monthly billing more predictable since you are not worried about data overage charges.

Simplified Support and Communication – An additional major benefit is that if you experience a cellular problem, you only have one number to regardless of the carrier.  This call center is manned 24/7/365 and it is in the United States, not overseas.



Download a sample Cell Signal Testing Report

Download a sample Cell Signal Testing Floor Plan

We start by creating a visual representation of the floor plan with numbered locations for cellular signal strength testing.  This is a great way to provide clients with a clear understanding of the coverage within the facility when combined with the final test results.  You can click here to see a sample floor plan.

Download our Cell Signal Test Whitepaper

Cellular Signal Testing in Multi-location Environments

How to Pick the Best Carrier for Each Site


Cellular signal strength testing is an important part of any cellular device deployment across multiple locations.  And using a multiple carrier approach is critical to ensure the strongest cellular signal is available for maximum performance at each site.

Learn More:

Let us show you how we can help you improve cellular connectivity across your enterprise and reduce costs with a multiple carrier solution.