Very poor call quality for long distance from my home but local calls work fine - Why?

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I am a new Koodo prepaid customer with a new HTC Desire 320.

I'm baffled by something. When I make local calls from my apartment, the call seems to have good call quality and everything is fine.  But when I try to call my mother long distance, I have major problems. 

For instance, on Friday, I tried to call my mother and every time I called, it rang once, then the phone vibrated, then the call was disconnected. Today, when I tried to call her, I got through and she picked up but  there was a wicked echo, the  phone  vibrated near the start of the call, and then we got disconnected after a few seconds. I couldn't figure out if the problem was my phone  and connection or some issue on her end so I went over to  my friend's place and called her on his landline and everything was fine. Then, when I came home again, I tried calling her from my balcony instead of my desk and the call went fine.

If calling from inside my  apartment is the issue, why does the phone show  excellent  signal strength and successfully make good quality local calls from the exact same spot but give awful results when calling long distance from the same spot? (I'm literally in the same chair when I try the different calls.)

Also, is it routine for the phone to vibrate in the first seconds of the call? If so, why does it do that? Is the vibration telling me that the call has gotten through and the  other party has picked up? Or that the billing of the call has begun?

Lastly, why  does the screen go black so quickly after the call begins? I have  the screen saver set to kick in after two minutes but  there's no  way I've been on the call more than 5 seconds before the screen saver kicks in.  That forces me to power on  again, unlock the phone, and click on the phone app. I'd like the screen saver not to kick in while I'm on a call at all  so  that  I  can always see the  disconnect button and not have to click several things before I can get back to it.
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Rhino

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Posted 3 years ago

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Chad Burr, Mobile Master

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Long distance calls quality can depend on many factors. It's impossible to say why one time it's great and the next it's bad.

The vibration is routine and is to tell you the call has been connected. You can shut it off in call settings.

The screen turns off because the proximity sensor is sensing your face or hand and is shutting down the screen to prevent either of those from pushing buttons inadvertently. Turning on speaker phone or using a bluetooth headset will stop that from happening.
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Rhino

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Thanks, Chad, for explaining the vibration and the blanking out of the screen. How do I turn on speakerphone. 

I can't say I'm loving the  screen blanking out. When I'm done my call, it takes several more seconds of activity before I can hang up which just adds to the cost of the call.  I don't want to be wearing a bluetooth device all the time just in case there's a call. I don't think I want everyone around me hearing my call either just so that the buttons don't go away. Can I stop it from blanking out like that WITHOUT using speakerphone or bluetooth?
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BobTheElectrician

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Check settings for Proximity Sensor. On some phones, you can turn it off. But be aware that if you come into contact with the screen during a call it will be just like random tapping it. You could also look for a utility that will force the screen to stay on during certain operations. "Keep Screen On" works for me on Music, but no experience with your handset or during phone operations.
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Rhino

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I'm not seeing any setting for a Proximity Sensor.  I've installed "Keep Screen On!" by Formias - I assume you meant that one, not "Keep Screen On Free" by someone else - and will see how that works out.  Thanks for the suggestions!
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Chad Burr, Mobile Master

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Not every device will allow you to turn off the sensor but the setting would be under call settings
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BobTheElectrician

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Is there a chance the person you are calling long distance is on Vonage or similar service?

I have had intermittently terrible quality on such calls between cell and VoIP, with several different cell carriers and especially Vonage. Local calls between the same carriers were no problem. Difficulties ranged from the other party sounding like they were yelling thru a very far away steel drum to pops and phone tones being randomly generated while calls drifting in an out. Quality was either perfect for the entire call or completely unusable.
(Edited)
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Rhino

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The long distance call I was making was definitely NOT to a Vonage/VOIP-based phone, just a regular Bell landline. 
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5s

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I have a similar issues, but not with long distance.
My local and long distance calls work great.
My problem is when I call GOVERNMENT AGENCY'S, be it local municipal, provincial or federal.
From start to finish the voice (human and machine) cuts in and out every 3-4 seconds. But if I use a land line, its a perfect call.
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Rhino

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Wow, that's just bizarre. I'd be curious to know why THAT happens if you ever figure it out.

In my case, my long distance calls were to my mother, who lives in a private house and who has never worked for any level of government.
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Rhino

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I made a long distance call to my mother a couple of hours ago from the same spot where I had so much trouble the other day and everything went fine.  I have no idea why my call was problem-free today when it gave me so much grief earlier. 

I don't know if the problem "solved itself" permanently or if I'm just getting a temporary break from it. I *hate* intermittent problems....
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rikkster, Mobile Master

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Keep in mind that every cell phone is essentially a low powered radio transceiver. As such, cell phones are subject to any of the following anomalies. Your physical location, (more so the type of structure you're in and the building materials used in that structure) and your proximity to the cell tower.

Atmospheric conditions, (including solar activities), can adversely affect radio/signal propagation and naturally occurring or man-made obstacles along with radio frequency interference (RFI), can all or in part, contribute to an intermittent radio signal.
(Edited)
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Rhino

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I get that there are many factors in call quality; I'm just having trouble isolating the cause of my particular problem.

After all, I haven't moved house in the last few days and I doubt any new cell towers got installed in that time either.  There's been no construction in the building either.  We might have had solar flares the other day that have subsided since or maybe one of my neighbours happened to be on the phone using approximately the same channel at all the same times that I tried to call the other day. The latter seems unlikely. Only the solar flares explanation has much plausibility for me  and that's only because we had a very odd electrical storm with the freakiest noises I've ever heard from a storm a couple of weeks back. But I haven't seen anything in the news about a subsequent increase in solar flares.

I'm not trying to solve the mysteries of the universe. I just want to be able to make calls that don't drop a few seconds into the call and where I can actually be heard by the person I'm calling. (When I did finally get through on a call the other day, my  mother couldn't make out very much of what I was saying and I had to hang up in frustration.) 

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