What is happening with 3G?
MikeFamous's profile

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6 Messages

Thu, Mar 3, 2022 4:00 PM

Cell booster concerns and questions

I’ve been an ATT customer for over 20 years. Before the sale to Cingular and the subsequent reacquisition.  In all that time, contrary to what the coverage maps claim, I’ve never experienced had the pleasure of service within a two-block radius of my house.   ATT’s solution to this was to provide me with a microcell to provide me service.  This was provided for “free”, it wasn’t horrible, but I wouldn’t call it great.  One of the main issues was that any guests would be unable to connect and hence would be without cell service.   

I would assume this might be part of the reason for making the new booster a public access point rather than the previous private setup.  I also assume that this is far cheaper to run the booster program in the current setup.   No direct consumer input or control concerns, less hardware to distribute, as in certain environments numerous people can connect to the one unit.  Under the guise of “doing me a solid” for 20 years averaging $300/month, you were providing me a  “free”  brand new Cell Booster.

I live in a townhouse development that resembles the shape of a capital L. My home is located where the road meets, placing Locating 32 homes within range of the cell booster.  Being that is open to use by any qualified ATT device, of which was 80M as of 2020. That’s roughly 25% of the population.  32 homes w/ 2.5 people = 96 residents x 0.25% = 24 devices are likely ATT.   I alone have 4 devices and my home network supports my smart home which has 35 devices at all times connected to my Wi-Fi.   Now I do have gig speed internet access and see download speeds of roughly that, but my upload is throttled at 25 MPs.

Because of my situation, I was immediately concerned and raised questions with support who was unable to provide any answers to my concerns and stated a support manager would contact me, they didn’t.  But as the first few weeks passed, I was extremely impressed and overjoyed by the new microcell functionality.  But the last week or two has been a major headache,  I’ve been experiencing drops from the cell booster, lag in my network, and a few other significant yet indeterminable issues.  I attribute this to ATT customers discovering that they now have a cell signal which they didn’t before, and more than likely are assuming it has something to do with the 5G network launch.

Although I’m able to monitor, in real-time, every device network usage, which up to now, has given me the ability to determine the cause of any network issues I’ve dealt with in the past.  But alas, this is no longer the case, and  I am stuck.  As I provided refuge in what’s essentially a “black box”,  it’s insinuated that a level of control and oversight is provided to me, through the dedicated app.  Whereas in reality, it’s devoid of any actual functionality other than the ability for me to change the device name of the Cell Booster.

All of this has me asking what exactly I’ve gotten myself into.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but at any given time, there could be, up to 8 devices, streaming movies, music, or games. They could be downloading large files, accessing social media or god only knows what else. They are doing so over an unencrypted network.  Your device itself may encrypt data before sending, but the ATT network itself will not encrypt your data.

So please help me understand, why I’m being forced to provide an unsecured back door onto my private network,  provide unlimited high-speed data usage,  except that I am unable to know who is using my data, how many are using my data, how much data they are using, how long have they been using my data, have they accessed any part of my network or connected devices that would otherwise be protected behind my firewall, is it causing my movie to buffer, and lastly I’m required to allow whomever, how every many of them, transmit as much data, whenever and for as long as they like, Neither am I able to see any of this data or knowing when it’s being sent.  Even though all their data could be associated to an IP, that could track only back to me, due to the backdoor you required.   

This is a tax of annoyance, basically you are requiring that I subsidize a portion of what would otherwise be your expenses, on top of the bill I already pay.  Being that most wireless plans offer unlimited data, people within range of this node may now use that cellular connection much more than they previously.  Generating income that wouldn’t have otherwise been realized.  Instead of leasing space on a comm tower at $2k-$3k per month or providing honest, accurate coverage maps.

  It’s also completely possible that returning home doesn’t guarantee I can even connect to the booster. There may be 8 devices connected leaving me (Edited per community guidelines).  But I might assume it’s my device or maybe my wifi, possible OS update needed or my ISP is down.    All of which could be avoided by providing a connected device count and real-time data usage tracking.   

73blazer

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57 Messages

4分前

Yes, the new one does not let you limit or control the users connecting. I guess they think anyone in a "populated" area would have tower coverage and these devices wouldn't be used. One can hope this may be added in the future but no idea if that's on the table or not.

I agree their maps are exaggerated, as lots of places I go say coverage, and there is none. My main office included, it says full bars coverage. Hah...you'd be lucky to get one, if your outside,  and one on AT&T is usually not usable.

If it's data usage your worried about you can get a better router one that lets you monitor usage per port and choke in real time, or limit over time,  the ingress and egress data limits per port if you wanted to. But there's no way to prevent a not-known-to-you AT&T device from using your booster, unfortunately.

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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18.1K Messages

4分前

@MikeFamous  Good question and one that I have asked my contacts within AT&T. For most home owners, the "openness" of the Cell Booster won't be that much of an issue, at least it's not for us. But if you live in an apartment/condo or a neighborhood where the homes are very close together, that my be an issue.

The data communication between AT&T and the Cell Booster is encrypted but that still doesn't help much as far as raw data passing over the Cell Booster. There is no hit on your cellular data plan because that's counted against the phone's account holder but across your ISP is a different matter and can affect your internet data cap. A HUGE no bueno.

I just sent those very concerns to AT&T the other day and am waiting from my contact to reply, if he can. I've been pushing them to at least institute the Approved Users List like they did with the MicroCell and will be offering on the Cell Booster Pro. I have my suspicions on why AT&T/Nokia did it this way but I need to keep them to myself, for now.

The Cell Booster does work very well, at least for us, but it would be considerably better if the Approved Users List was reinstitute. There may be a way to force the issue with AT&T but time will tell if that route needs to be taken or not.

I too am a long time AT&T customer (since the PacBell days). Coverage maps are interesting in how they determine signal propagation, distance vs usability, which are two entirely different things and one which all providers do.

73blazer

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57 Messages

4分前

@MikeFamous  If you have phones with Wi-FI calling (most in the last 5 years support this), is there a reason you don't want to use that?

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6 Messages

4分前

I do have wifi calling active, but the issue lies with cellular connectivity.  Without a microcell to connect to, the lack of any signal leaves the phone constantly search for one and drains the battery significantly quicker then with a connection.  

I have all the latest tech, from mesh wifi 6, iPhone 13 pro max and before that I had the iPhone 12 Pro Max and both devices have had the same issue.  This issue also affected my Apple Watch and iPad, all of which support cellular connection and I pay ATT for such connectivity.  

You are able to disable cellular data on your phone but it doesn’t disable the phone from attempting to connect to a tower.  Putting my phone on airplane mode at home should fix the issue but having to remember to turn it back on everytime, is something I shouldn’t have to do for $300 a month. 

73blazer

New Member

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57 Messages

4分前

This has not been my experience with wifi-c. On my wifes iphone 7 and my dad's iphone 13, It will measure dbm to the tower it has and if not enough it will use wifi-c (you'll see the indicator in the corner next to the bars)  and not look back as long as you stay on that wifi network.

I do know what your saying about them searching with little or no signal, they try and crank up the radio to talk and that degrades the battery time. But once it engages  wifi-c, i've not seen any degradation in battery time.

Apple has a crappy setting that's called wifi assist. In actuality it's wifi desist, that setting is on by default and will use a cell signal instead of wifi if it thinks the wifi signal is weak, Utterly pointless as a weak wifi is still better than any tower signal. 

I tell everyone I know with ios to turn that setting off as basically it's a use my cell data instead of wifi . You can try to turn that off and turn your booster off and turn on wifi-c and then see if that helps your battery time.

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18 Messages

4分前

@MikeFamous - "Without a microcell to connect to, the lack of any signal leaves the phone constantly search for one and drains the battery significantly quicker then with a connection."

^^^ I never appreciated this until this past month.  My iPhone's battery life seems to have fallen off a cliff, needing to be put on the charger every afternoon just to get through the day versus previously going all day and still having around 20% at bedtime.

I wondered if its battery had suddenly started dying, until realizing it was due to the phone constantly rotating between my 1 bar of 3G ("4G") service, 0 bars of no service, or brief Cell Booster connections (my issue from a separate thread,) versus previously having max bars of MicroCell connectivity all day long.  The battery life difference is staggering.

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6 Messages

4分前

@Nemesis_Prime If these cell companies wouldn’t exaggerate there coverage maps just so they can claim having the “Biggest” network. 😏  Then they might actually actively attempt to fill in the dead spots.  As I see it, Att should be on the hook for one of the largest cases of misleading or false advertising.  Cellular service providers are by far the most blatant abusers of consumer law and have never been held liable.  But these cell boosters are the biggest & boldest F U to their customers ever.  They are banking on the fact a majority of people are ignorant to the technology and how they work in a higher density residential area.  It’s criminal. 

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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18.1K Messages

4分前

@MikeFamous WiFi-C works very well for us and is what we used in-home for years after I shelved the MicroCell. The MicroCell worked well but WiFi-C for us worked better. No hit on battery usage. In fact, once I'm done with evaluating the Cell Booster and finishing the Guide updates, I'll take it offline and go back to WiFi-C.

My Apple Watch and iPad are WiFi only and they have no issues with connectivity. If I'm within range of my iPhone, I can make/place calls on my Apple Watch from almost anywhere in the house (even tho I rarely do so) and my iPad works everywhere. I can even take calls on my iPad from anywhere in my home (3500 sq.ft., 2-story). If you leave WiFi-C enabled your phone will be constantly looking for which technology to connect to, the Cell Booster's cellular signal or your WiFi signal. That will definitely use a lot of battery. That's why the recommendation is to use either one, but not both at the same time. So, while I'm testing and evaluating the Cell Booster, WiFi-C is disabled and WiFi is enabled. I haven't seen any appreciable battery drain on my iPhone 12 at all. I put it on the wireless charger about every other night when I go to bed and I have plenty of power for at least 2 days. I have monitored my battery usage closely with the MicroCell (WiFi-C disabled, WiFi enabled), WiFi-C enabled, WiFi enabled, and the Cell Booster (WiFi-C disabled, WiFi enabled) and battery usage was fairly constant for all three. And this was using an iPhone 8 Plus and now the current iPhone 12.

Putting your phone in Airplane Mode just disables its cellular radio so the phone has no choice but to connect to WiFi-C if enabled. All of this is covered my Tech Guide.

@73blazer WiFi Assist is also covered in my Tech Guide.

I wish I had answers for you guys to resolve your issues but the Cell Booster, like the MicroCell, doesn't work for everyone. What would work is for AT&T to be able to one, have more realistic coverage maps. Not just maps that show how far the signal can be detected but maps that actually display reliable usage limits. And two, improve the signal strength in general. However, that is all dependent on what the FCC allows for signal strength, propagation, and frequencies used.

In testing both the MicroCell and Cell Booster, using the same setup/location for each in my home, it appears that the MicroCell just worked better as far as signal strength (AT&T M-Cell always displayed) and coverage area. The other issue I noticed is that location (the sweet spot) seems to be more important with the Cell Booster than the MicroCell. With the MicroCell I could place it in just about any location in my house and it just worked without issue. With the Cell Booster, I had to move it three times to find the sweet spot and now it works as expected. LTE should be a stronger and more robust signal than 3G but I think it may be like the 2.4GHz WiFi vs the 5GHz WiFi. Both are WiFi, but 2.4GHz has greater distance, slower speeds and can handle fewer devices, whereas 5GHz has shorter distance, faster speeds, can handle more devices. Probably a poor analogy but you get my point. And don't get me started on the openness of the Cell Booster 😡. That is, and was a huge mistake.

My Tech Guide is now at version 3.1.

(edited)

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6 Messages

4分前

@73blazer  I’m an advanced beta tester for apple and I can assure you that wifi assist and a few other features have been disabled for many years. But As I don’t get any cell reception I do experience major battery drain even when connected to wifi with wifi calling activate.  There is no way to completely disable the cellular modem from attempting to connect to a cellular tower without engaging airplane mode.  Which I could do and then only activate the wifi.  But I shouldn’t have to do that and then remember to turn off airplane mode everytime I leave my home and vice versa.  On top of that I wouldn’t be able to make a phone call and leave my home otherwise I’d lose the call.  Especially when i live in an area that Att claims to provide full service for over 20 years and yet has none, but has had no issues accepting my $300 a month since the beginning.  With this new cell booster they are now forcing me to provide an unlimited amount of bandwidth to the public in order to maintain that which I already pay them for.  I did a speed test today, my phone was only connected to the cell booster, just as anyone living near me would.  I clocked 130/mps down.   So with 8 people able to connect at any given time. They could in essence use the entirety of my gig speed bandwidth and I’d have no say over that.  This cell booster also provides a back door into my network that allows any phone connected to that booster to search or download illegal content through my private network while showing my ip as the origin or destination ip.     

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6 Messages

4分前

@OttoPylot  What are your views on the security implications of this new cell booster?  I imagine the reason the microcell saw stronger connectivity is the targeted nature of the device.  It was programmed to only accept specific devices.  Where as this new device is always looking for any connection.  If I recall the 3g also only allowed for 5 devices compared to the 8 of the current unit.  

What up and down speeds have you achieved with only booster connectivity?  I did 3 speed tests from out front my home this morning and averaged 130/mps, up I’m capped at 25/mps

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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18.1K Messages

4分前

@73blazer Just a question but if WiFi Assist has been disabled for years why is it still available in iOS 15.3.1 (Settings -> Cellular -> scroll all the way to the bottom)? Handing off from WiFi-C to cellular is covered in my Guide. The only time I've ever noticed increased battery usage using WiFi-C is when the incoming cellular signal was a bit stronger than my WiFi-C connection, and then the phone would search and switch to cellular (which in my home is 5Ge). This was also true with the MicroCell. Which circles us back to the sweet spot. 

I am only one person, who has a small voice within AT&T concerning their femtocells, but am constantly bugging my contact within AT&T about the open system and will continue to do so. As soon as I get any information about this I will post it if allowed. For that reason alone I may cut my testing and evaluating short. Where we live that is not much of a problem as the signal outside the home, at least to the sidewalk is LTE (Cell Booster). and as soon as you step in the street or walk about a few yards from the end of our property line it switches to 5Ge.

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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18.1K Messages

4分前

@MikeFamous I am not happy at all with the openness of the Cell Booster and have posted about it as well as mentioned that, a couple of times, to my contacts within AT&T. I will continue to keep pushing them about this. The Cell Booster Pro will allow for selecting users so I don't see why that can't be offered on the Cell Booster. I will have to keep my suspicions as to why to myself for now if I want to continue to keep offering whatever help I can, and keep the Guide up-to-date.

The MicroCell offered up to 5 simultaneous connections with a maximum of 10 Approved Users.

I listed my SpeedTest speeds at initial activation in my Guide (page 6) but they were 504/18 and I was in the same room as the Cell Booster. I just stood on my front porch and got 183/12 (I'm capped at 20 up) averaged over 4 determinations about 5 minutes apart.

On my sidewalk, directly in front of my home I get 3 bars of 5Ge. WiFi is disabled on all SpeedTests that I do. What I've noticed, at least in my area, is that 5Ge (enhanced LTE) is becoming more reliable so the Cell Booster is becoming not that useful for us. 5G is non-existent in our neighborhood so that's why I leave my iPhone 12 set to LTE, Allow More Data on 5G, and WiFi enabled. Away from my home, I have no connection issues. When I'm in my home and connected to LTE, no issues at all whatsoever with call quality and messaging (FaceTime, iMessage, MMS/SMS to our Android friends is problem-free. I know that most of that goes thru WiFi so that's why it's enabled all of the time but the two technologies work very well together on our iPhones.

My opinion of the Cell Booster is changing with the continual testing that I'm doing. My wife is not too happy with me borrowing her phone all of the time, disabling WiFi, and comparing her iPhone 7 to my iPhone 12 so the WAF will become important the more testing I do.

In my opinion the Cell Booster is not for everyone. The MicroCell just appeared to be more robust, if not limited in some respects. LTE signal propagation and LTE signal lock with the Cell Booster is subject to lots of variables which almost makes it useless in a lot of situations. As a replacement for the MicroCell, I think it misses the mark a bit. I'd like to get a hold of a Cell Booster Pro and run it thru its paces but I doubt if AT&T will send me one. However, at $699 that puts it out of the hands of a lot of people. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give the Cell Booster a 5. That would certainly go up if the security issues were remedied.

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6 Messages

4分前

@OttoPylot  I’ll say it for you.  It’s out and out cost savings measure. The openness provides connectivity to others in close proximity and reduces their need to send out multiple devices.  Also lessens the toll on their customer service.  But they do it all at the expense of unknowable public, whom are ignorant to what’s actually going on here.  The most common question I see when they have an inkling to what’s happening, is if public use counts against them.  Those same people will later be wondering why their internet is slow. Spending hours being bounced between isp and router manufacturers.  All because kids in the apartment next door are enjoying the reception and constantly streaming Netflix on their phones all the time. 

they won’t implement user functionality unless they get sued. The only other companies to do something similar, like comcast are also the source of connectivity and provide bandwidth separate from the customers for public access

This will become one of those things were the information slowly spreads and causes an uproar that only becomes louder until it’s untenable.  I intend to be a significant source of such. It’s rather unfortunate for Att that on social I have over 1.2M loyal followers.  

ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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18.1K Messages

4分前

@MikeFamous No argument from me at all. In fact, I quietly and hopefully a bit tactfully alluded to that in my Guide, at least the problem about openness but not about why 😉. FWIW, Comcast is our ISP and we've had very few issues with them, other than cost. I would never use AT&T as my ISP. But Comcast, AT&T, and Ziply Fiber (used to Frontier in our area) are our only choices.

NOTE: I just re-read your last sentence. Threatening AT&T, as you probably know, is an exercise in futility, regardless of your following. While I support you entirely, this is the only social media platform other than another forum that I participate in. FaceBook, Twitter, ad naseum are a waste of my time. I'll fight my battle with AT&T directly. Maybe from your social platform and me internally something will change.

(edited)

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