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Nexus One Owners Report Spotty 3G Signals On T-Mobile 146

rsk writes "One of the most popular questions on the Google Nexus One support forums is the 'Spotty 3G?' thread with almost 700 posts of users complaining about their 3G signal coverage fluctuating up, down, and between EDGE/3G with the phone just sitting on the desk or compared to other 3G devices on the T-Mobile network that don't offer the same unpredictable behavior. One workaround that seems to fix the issue is forcing the phone into '3G' or 'WCDMA Only' mode. This is a bit of a downer given that T-Mobile just finished their 3G upgrade to 7.2Mbps. Official word from Google is 'We are investigating this issue....'"
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Nexus One Owners Report Spotty 3G Signals On T-Mobile

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  • I have friends who live in suburban developments near where I live, and I can't get any signal while at their house. Two blocks in one direction from there is 4 bars, one block in another direction is 3 bars (followed by a dead spot another block past). I don't give a damn about 3g on T-mobile (as a T-mobile customer) - I just want to be able to use my phone as a phone. I have a pretty decent signal at home, but I can't very well drive home from anywhere and hold signal all the way home.

    And even worse, the coverage maps on T-mobile claim that I should get "good" coverage in these locations where I have no signal. And this is on a quad-band blackberry.
  • Welcome to reality. (Score:5, Informative)

    by ( 245670 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:51PM (#30755048)

    This is the same with every 3G phone on every network I've ever used. I've had to add (or un-hide) a band selector on every 3G phone I've ever had because the default settings are always designed to lock onto the STRONGEST signal rather than the FASTEST signal. If I'm going to be doing data-intensive stuff, lock it in 3G. When I'm done, switch it back to auto.

  • by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) * on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:52PM (#30755058) Homepage Journal

    No, really?

    Have you seen their coverage maps? They make AT&T look good.

    I <3 T-Mobile, but their coverage has always been an unattractive shade of Suck. Even in Dallas -- home of Texas Instruments, y'all -- my cheap touchscreen [] is constantly switching from 3G to EDGE, or dropping data altogether. Hearing that Nexus One users are having trouble with T-Mobile's 3G network is like hearing that bears have been discovered crapping in the woods.

  • by jittles ( 1613415 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:52PM (#30755066)
    I actually had the same problem with my iPhone 3G until the 3.0 OS update came out. I was lucky to have any signal at my desk sometimes. Updated to 3.0 and suddenly I had full bars. Hopefully this is a software issue on the Nexus too.
  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @04:00PM (#30755180) Journal

    The two GSM bands in use in the US are 850 and 1900 Mhz.

    T-Mobile is building out a good portion of their 3G network on the AWS band, which is 2110 - 2155 MHz for the downlink and 1710 - 1755 MHz on the upload.

  • by Wannabe Code Monkey ( 638617 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @04:19PM (#30755480)

    No, really?

    Have you seen their coverage maps? They make AT&T look good.

    If you even bothered to read the summary, you would know that the Nexus One is having a hard time keeping a 3G signal even in places where other T-Mobile 3G phones pick it up just fine. The Nexus One owners aren't complaining that T-Mobile's 3G coverage is bad (although that's a valid complaint as well), they're complaining that the coverage is even worse with this specific phone.

  • by toleraen ( 831634 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @04:26PM (#30755582)
    Sounds like your radio firmware got updated with 3.0. I'm guessing that's all the Nexus One needs as well.
  • minneapolis (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @06:49PM (#30757550)

    no one has said this, but t-mobile coverage in mpls-metro is as good if not better than anyone. Anyway, I'll pay one internet bill thanks. When mobile internet competes with cable, dsl, then i'll get on board. But we'll never get fair pricing with all you yahoos snapping up all these goofball gadgets on rip-off plans. Presently its useless. I have a 4 yr old winmo device with 8gb of static html (mainly wikipedia) I have the same (err faster) mobile referencing for free since that is how I acquired my phone. I am awesome everyone else sucks. Here's to t-mobile, for great customer service, the underdog, and the only good choice for anyone who wants to send money to more legitimate democracies.

  • by hazydave ( 96747 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @07:55PM (#30758496)

    This IS a real problem. And no one really talks about this.. except maybe Verizon, because they largely don't have it.

    Ok.. set the way-back machine to the dawn of cellular phone technology. It was all AMPS, the original analog phone service. And it was 850MHz in the USA, 900MHz in Europe, deal done. Each area could support two cellular providers on that band, period. In the USA, one was usually Verizon (and, to a small extent, the companies Verizon sucked up over the years), the other was probably AT&T (and likewise).

    Now, even in this, Verizon was doubly blessed. For one, they started with CDMA, they use CDMA today. Second, the CDMA 3G technology, EvDO, works in the same bandwidth (down to 2.5MHz.. 1.25MHz up, 1.25MHz down) as plain old voice. So every Verizon cell is a 3G cell. Sure, you lose 3G at the fringes, or sometimes when a particular cell is busy, but that's that. And they have the advantage of an 850MHz slot, which means, much more range for the same power. And it works much better in rain, and much, much better through forests and walls. Of course, Verizon also has 1900MHz (1800MHz in Europe) like everyone else.

    AT&T Mobility was successful, but not Verizon successful. Neither was Cingular. Together, though, they made themselves the #2 network in the USA. One small problem: AT&T Mobility used DAMPS, the digital TDMA replacement for AMPS. Cingular used GSM (not originally, but by the time of the merger/acquisition). The proper move forward was GSM, but AT&T had to phase that out. That was also where most of their 850MHz slots were being used. They shut down the last DAMPS cell in 2008.. but had to upgrade them.

    Two problems here, however, One is that DAMPS had greater range than GSM for regular voice/2G stuff. So some parts of today's cell grid from AT&T is not optimal. That's particularly bad on a standard GSM voice call, because GSM does hard handoff--- one cell drops you before the next one picks you up, as you move. If that fails, you drop the call. CDMA, and GSM/3G (UMTS/HSPA) do soft handoffs... the phone is actually connected to multiple cells at once, and one is dropped only when better ones are connected.

    Then there's the GSM 3G technology. You can get that 7.2Mb/s downlink, versus a max of 3.1Mb/s on CDMA, largely because of fatter physical pipes. To see 7.2Mb/s (at least based on AT&Ts set regulation of per-user downlink speeds), you need a full HSPA+ setup, which is two cells bonded together, for a total of 20MHz bandwidth. Even for regular UMTS, you need 10MHz (5MHz up, 5MHz down) for the normal 3G. This meant new spectrum, rather than the CDMA folks being able to re-use their existing spectrum. Kind of.

    AT&T actually had more licenses at 1900MHz, thanks to their merger with Cingular, so they could actually do 10MHz at least, 20MHz in some markets, using 850MHz and/or 1900MHz. So they just did. Which is in opposition to what had been planned, but it was legal.

    Now, enter T-Mobile. They used to be tiny VoiceStream, at the time the only GSM company in the USA. They were acquired by the German Telecom, which might have been a problem, but they got Catherine Zeta Jones as their spokeswoman, and being really happy to see more of her on a regular basis, I know I didn't mind Germans running the thing. Besides, it's not as if the original VoiceStream did much good.

    VoiceStream had a tiny network, and while they built it, they usually only had the single 1900MHz slot. So they didn't the range of AT&T or Verizon. Enter 3G... THEY actually needed the extra spectrum. Which was auctioned off... 1700MHz and 2100MHz. But this took time, of course... they were late to the party. And also, less investment in infrastructure, so even the completed 3G network covers much less.

    At this point, though, you have to ask if 3G even matters. AT&T thinks it does... they're still upgrading their network for 7.2Mb/s HSPA+, and claim they'll have over 30 cities wired with the really fast 3G by mid 2010 (if you're an iPod 3GS user, you

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