Cellular network carriers across North America are feeling the pinch in this economic downturn. They are implementing cost cutting measures that actually cause more dropped calls for customers. The changes are so subtle, that it is hard for customers to detect, yet they save the networks millions of dollars.
While dropped phone calls are nothing new, it does seem as if we experience them much more often since the economic downturn in the markets. Cellular carriers are under more pressure to deliver profits or their stock price gets pummeled. Rather than deliver new services to increase profits, the focus is on cutting costs, at the expense of the consumers.
With the current cellular technology, it should have fewer technical issues resulting in dropped calls, so you can't blame it all on the technology. Carriers are reducing the number of active cell towers in your area, such as when one goes down due to poor maintenance they just switch it offline. If you are lucky to have overlapping cell coverage, then your calls are handled by adjacent cell towers. The result is a savings to the carrier, without any reduction in your monthly cell phone bill.
This may not be a problem, since in good times, many carriers put in some redundancy into their networks, such as back up towers in densely populated areas, and overlapping cells. Of course, you can only cut back so far before you start to have black spots on the network coverage.
The problems start to happen when you are not close enough to another cell, and your calls are unable to be re-routed. Usually dropped calls are just a nuisance. But there are times when you could find that calls to 911 are not able to go through, so you should not depend on your cell phone with your life.
Many cell service providers define what are called "service areas" showing the coverage, and these are purposefully vague, and are accompanied by fine print that states these areas are the best possible coverage. Of course your mileage may vary, and you will find it hard to prove that they were lying. The good thing is that cellular companies can just turn off a few towers to reduce costs to fit within their budgets. Profits go up or at least meet analyst expectations, and investor confidence remains high.
One thing you can do, is make sure your cell phone is regularly charged, and if you are frequently getting dropped calls, consider switching carriers. Each network has its cell towers in different locations, and another cell network may suit your coverage needs better than the one you are currently using.