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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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  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @04:27PM (#30755602) Homepage Journal

    I remember reading about that iPhone problem. I suspect that it's a bug in the stock firmware for that chipset and that this is another one of those obnoxious flaws in the way the chipset vendors handle patches. As I understand it from talking to some cell phone engineers, when you start out with a chipset, you get a standard copy of the baseband firmware from the chipset manufacturer. I'll call that the baseline version. Patches from clients for cell firmware end up going into a separate tree for that specific client and are not typically propagated back upstream to the baseline, so every phone manufacturer who develops a phone using any given chipset ends up having to find and fix the same set of hundreds of baseband bugs over and over. If that's true, I'm amazed that the cell manufacturers put up with it. That certainly explains why cell phones have so many hundreds (or thousands) of baseband crasher bugs, and it also probably explains why Google is having to relearn all the stuff that Apple just learned a few months ago, and probably Nokia learned a few months before that, and so on.

    Sad, really. Everyone suffers because of corporate paranoia and overly strong copyright protection on minor source code patches. Were the firmware an open source project, cellular communications would be in much better shape. Of course, the telecoms are terrified of that because then people would be running rogue baseband firmware, and the tower baseband software probably isn't much more robust than the cell phone baseband software is, so once again, corporate paranoia results in a poor customer experience. And to some degree, the cell companies probably like it this way because it makes it harder for new competitors to build phones that work.

    I'm so glad I don't work in telecom. *sigh*

  • by ppanon ( 16583 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @05:23PM (#30756446) Homepage Journal

    And to some degree, the cell companies probably like it this way because it makes it harder for new competitors to build phones that work.


    In fact the current state you describe is almost certainly due to cell manufacturers. It's not just about barriers to entry but also about competitive advantage. Otherwise the first adopters of new chips would spend lots of money on bug fixing in development. In contrast, their competitors would be able to release shortly afterwards with the shared firmware bug fixes and price their product lower because they wouldn't need to amortize the debugging costs that the first mover had to absorb. A manufacturer would only let that happen to them once, then they would find another supplier that didn't work that way. It's an interesting variant on the tragedy of the commons.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde