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MikeDawson's profile

Teacher

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14 Messages

Tue, Sep 2, 2014 3:50 PM

3G Microcell loss of connectivity issue

So, I have had a 3G Microcell in my house for the past 2-3 years and it has worked fairly well, with the occasional outage due to network issues, but the cell itself seems to have been fine through that time.

 

Recently,within the past week,I have noticed that it keeps dropping out on a frequent basis.  LastFriday I started watching it closely by doing a continuous ping from my phone to the Google DNS server, which I do whenever I want to test Internet connectivity.  I noticed that every 15-20 minutes the ping would stop and then the AT&T M-Cell notification on the phone would go to searching and the bottom light on the microcell would start flashing.  This would go for about 2 minutes then recover. 

 

From my IT/networking background this sounds like a classic memory leak.

 

I worked with AT&T support on Saturday and we finally did a hard reset using the button on the microcell.  This seemed to fix it for about 36 hours, but now, this morning it is back to the every 15-20 minute reset.

 

Any ideas here?  Does anyone know if a recent firmware upgrade was pushed that might cause this?  Is anyone else having similar problems?

 

 

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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15.5K Messages

7 y ago

Was the 3G light flashing green or red? If it was flashing green, that usually means a loss of connectivity to the AT&T mobility servers. If it was flashing red, that can indicate a hardware failure or an update that was pushed and the MicroCell didn't reset itself properly and now it "thinks" there's a hardware failure.

 

A hard reset (see the Tech Guide, link in my sig, for MicroCell details) usually fixes the problem if it was due to an update that didn't properly restart.

 

Firmware updates are not announced and they can be local to a MicroCell Service Area, regional, or global. There is no way of knowing what the updates are for.

 

It could be that the MicroCell is starting to fail, the ac adapter could be starting to fail (that can cause all kinds of issues), or there is something happening on the ISP end (they could be doing maintenance/upgrades that is affecting line quality).

 

I would reboot the entire system (router/modem/gateway and MicroCell) and see if that works. It could be an update to your system that is causing issues and just needs to be cleared out with a reboot.

 

Wish I could be more specific but it's hard to be more specific than that because multiple issues can have the same results.

Teacher

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14 Messages

7 y ago

It is flashing green when it happens...no other lights change...all solid green.  I just did a reset again via the pinhole on the back, but just noticed that it cycled again....so, I'll go do a complete system power off and see if that helps.

 

In case it's the microcell starting to fail, are there any trade-in/upgrade programs for replacing the device?  Or do I just start making a pest of myself with AT&T until they give me a new one?   8*)

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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15.5K Messages

7 y ago

Ok. Flashing green is loss of connectivity to the servers. It can be a faulty MicroCell or line quality issues with your ISP, among other possibilities.

 

Using the reset button on the back is for the hard reset. Turn off the power to the MicroCell. Hold in the button with a paperclip and restore the power. Keep holding in the button for about 30 seconds and then release it. That forces the MicroCell to revert to its factory defaults and starts the Initial Actiavation process all over again. See the Tech Guide on details for what's happening during that Initial Activation.

 

Getting the MicroCell replaced is totally up to CustomerCare and who you talk to (and how you talk to them). Sending a pm to CustomerCare is a good way to get your issues properly documented and gives  you one person to work with, usually. Just send them your problem, account information, what you've done to correct it and the best way for them to contact you. It can't hurt. You may get one as a replacement but there's no guarantee. The link is in my sig.

Teacher

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14 Messages

7 y ago

Ok, thanks, definitely not a line quality issue since I was talking with customer support via an IP softphone client on my laptop while the microcell was down.

 

I'll try the hard reset if the latest power cycle doesn't fix it and then start pestering customer support.

 

 

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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15.5K Messages

7 y ago

I would still run a VoIP test at various times to get an idea of your overall line quality. What's important is how clean the connection is between the MicroCell and the servers so that a secure VPN can be created and maintained.The MicroCell has specific router configurations that also need to be met and if any of them have changed for what ever reason, you're going to have connection issues.

 

Who is your ISP and what kind of connection do you have?

Teacher

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14 Messages

7 y ago

ISP is Frontier Communications, up to 24Mbps DSL.   I usually clock it around 20 using Speedtest app.  This was recently upgraded, but that was a couple months ago...this problem has just surfaced, if it was a router/service change issue I would have expected to see it sooner than now.

 

What VoIP test tool do you recommend?

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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15.5K Messages

7 y ago

http://www.voipqualitytest.com/

 

It just gives you a snapshot in time so it's not a bad idea to run it at a couple of different times and take an average.

 

I have DSL as well. The lines need to be really clean for VoIP and anything, a loose connection, crossed wire, line tap, what ever can affect the connection back to AT&T, even if your regular internet doesn't indicate anything's wrong. It's just one of the many things to look at when you lose connectivity or your reliability gets flaky. Make sure the necessary ports are still open to AT&T's servers as well.

Teacher

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14 Messages

7 y ago

Well, I went ahead and replaced the Microcell for a brand new one.  It worked fine for about a day and now is experiencing the same issue as the old one, so, this is pointing to a network issue.  I ran several VoIP tests and keep coming up with low consistency of service, whatever that means.  How do I describe that to the ISP?  Which ports are used to communicate with the central server?  How do you set your microcell to a static IP address?

 

Thanks for any help.

 

MIke

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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15.5K Messages

7 y ago

See my Tech Guide (link in my sig) for the minimum router requirments (ports, config settings, etc).

 

The way you configure your router for assigning a static ip address, with or without port forwarding, is dependent on the mfr. Sometimes we can help you with the configuration if it's a common brand that we are familiar with. If it is one supplied by your ISP then you either need to contact them or the router's mfr. AT&T support can't help becuase they aren't really responsible for configuring routers etc and there's just too many different routers, firmware versions for them to keep track of. And, AT&T doesn't want to be responsible for messing with a customers router, which is understandable.

 

If you can, post your VoIP test results.

Teacher

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14 Messages

7 y ago

I will try to post the test results when I get back home this weeked.

 

Do you know the IP address of the the AT&T servers?  I see the Microcell communicating on port 123, 443 and 4500 with a 12.x.x.x address which, I believe, is an AT&T address.

 

The router manual doesn't have any info on setting a static address, although there is a section on port forwarding....I'll have to get into that with Frontier I guess.

 

I was thinking of putting a hub between the microcell and the router and sniffing the traffic.  The more I think about it the more it sounds like a timer of some sort.  I want to see if the communication is just stopping after a time waiting on some response.  I'll let you know what I find.

 

Frontier has a "premium" support option for $9.99/month that includes 24/7 support, in depth troubleshooting and a slew of other stuff like PC cleaning and backup, digital camera support, printers, etc. and a bunch of software support....like I need all that.   Good thing is I can sign up and cancel it after a month..no time contract. so I may have to do that.   Sheesh.

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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15.5K Messages

7 y ago

The MicroCell needs to communicate on ports 123 UDP, 443 TCP, 500 UDP, and 4500 UDP. You didn't mention port 500. Do you see traffic on that port? If not, that could be your problem. If those ports are open and the line quality is sufficient, there should be no difficulty in the MicroCell creating a secure VPN to the servers.

 

Putting a hub between the MicroCell and the router will probably cause more problems because the fewer the connection between the MicroCell and the route/modem, the more stable the connection will be. The are other routines that go on inside the MicroCell to establish and secure the VPN so knowing what the ip addresses are would be of little use.

 

Your router should detect the MicroCell and assign it an IP address via DHCP. You can see what that address is by viewing the DHCP table in your router. What I do is assign the first available address in my set address ranges and then assign that ip address to the MAC address of the MicroCell. That way, if there is ever a power outage or I have to reboot my router, as soon as the MAC address is detected the router will assign the pre-assigned address to it.

 

Don't expect Frontier to help you at all with the MicroCell because they probably haven't a clue as to how it works or what it needs, and if its not their product, they won't support it and blame any issue on the MicroCell.

 

You need to make sure that the four ports I listed above are open, DHCP in enabled, IPSec Passthrough is enabled, Block Fragmented Packets is disabled, the MTU is 1492, and only one device is handling the NAT duties (the router or the modem, not both). You also have to have a line clean enough for VoIP (the VoIP test results) and speeds that are stable and don't fluctuate much. Download speeds, that are consistent and stable above 3.0Mbps are fine. All of this is covered in the Tech Guide.

Contributor

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1 Message

7 y ago

I have had a microcell with att begining in febuary. have had nothing but trouble, dropped calls. loss of siginal, others not being able to hear you, have to reset the cell at least 3 times a week,, i am now in my forth microcell. my service is att dsl, my speeds are well within limits, the network tech with dsl monitored my line one day said my service stayed strong but the packets from the cell was sporitic the cell tech first off blames the dsl, have had several tickets to fix my problem. every time they find something different, now they have no idea, so they started just hanging up on me, they are tired as i am of not knowing whats wrong, so good luck getting att to fix your problem,

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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15.5K Messages

7 y ago

Did you ever come here and ask for help? If the "att dsl tech" said that you were dropping packets then yes, you will have connection issues. How far are you from the CO? Distance for DSL will make a difference. Especially if there are line condition issues like bridge taps etc. I have DSL (not AT&T) and my MicroCell hasn't missed a beat in four years. But then again I'm only 3800 copper feet from the CO. If you'd like to see if there is anything we can do, then gives us more information on your setup, speeds, etc.

Teacher

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14 Messages

7 y ago

Voip quality test results here:

 

http://208.80.13.33/myspeed/db/report?id=100817

 

I think.

 

Got home tonight and my wife reports that the microcell has not been showing any problems.  I've been watching it for a while and it seems solid.   Obviously I didn't do anything so maybe Frontier did something in their network to rectify the situation.  I went ahead and set up port forwarding and set the DHCP lease time to 60 days, since I couldn't see how to set the router to give a static address to the microcell.  I figure 60 days is good for the DHCP address to never change.

 

I'll let you know how it goes.

 

 

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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15.5K Messages

7 y ago

I've never paid any attention to the DHCP lease. I just leave it at default because that's always worked well for me. If you can do port forwarding then you should be able to set a static IP address. Do post back.

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