02-18-2013 8:49 AM
While I didn't encounter this problem initially when I started up my Mcell a few months ago, it has now become a daily ritual that I hope someone here can help me with.
Motorola SB 6120 modem -> Netgear WNR3500L router -> Mcell
The Mcell is connected to the router with a pair of Netgear Powerline 200 Nano Adapters because my modem and router are located in the basement with no exposure to window for the Mcell to see a GPS satellite. The connection is good.
My Charter ISP connection is 30 mbps down and 4 mbps and is rock solid.
What's happening and what I've done so far:
Usually once a day I will no longer see the AT&T Mcell indication at the top of my iPhone 5. When I check my wife's iPhone 4S she has also lost the AT&T Mcell indication.
Turning the phones off and then on does not bring back the Mcell connection. Switching Airplane Mode off and then on does not bring back the Mcell connection.
The Mcell has all solid green lights when I go to check it after seeing the lost connection. If I power cycle the Mcell, the phones will then show an Mcell connection again until the next time they lose the connection which is usually once/day but not at any particular time.
I have the latest firmware on all devices.
When I check my router's admin page after a lost connection, the router indicates that the Mcell's IP address has not changed and it remains the same after power cycling the Mcell.
On the WAN page for my router, I have set the MTU size to 1492 and set the NAT Filtering to "Open" instead of "Secured". No improvement after doing so.
Suspicious of the Powerline Adapters, I tried disconnecting and reconnecting the Ethernet cable from the Mcell to the Powerline Adapter to mimic a temporary loss of connection to the router to see if that affected the Mcell connection. The Mcell connection was not lost.
I have not set any open ports or a static IP address for the Mcell yet. Is what I'm experiencing indicative of this solution? Does anyone have any other thoughts as to what try next?
I don't want to waste my time with an AT&T Level 1 tech support person because their suggestions are almost always worthless. I have better luck contacting user forums and that is why I'm posting here.
Thank God I was able to convince AT&T to give me a Mcell for free because if I paid $200 for it, I'd be very upset right now.
Thanks In Advance!
04-19-2013 11:38 AM
Here's another half-baked thought.
When I received my replacement Mcell, it would not establish a GPS lock in a location on a counter near a east-facing sliding glass door where the previous Mcell would. I moved the replacement Mcell to a southern-facing window where it was able to gain a lock and complete the activation. After many days of uninterrupted service, I moved it back to the previous location. It worked for a while but then I got another GPS flashing light and a red flashing 3G light. In both cases, the face of the Mcell with the lights was facing south. When it was sitting in the southern-facing window, the Mcell was oriented with its side facing south. On a lark, I turned the Mcell 90 degrees with its side facing south in the original location and it connected and I haven't had a GPS problem since.
Is the GPS antenna in the Mcell truly omnidirectional or is its sensitivity somewhat dependent on its orientation to the GPS satellites? Knowing at any given time, out of the 32 GPS satellites, one can receive a signal from 8-10 of them and it takes a minimum of 4 satellites to determine a location. Perhaps the Mcell GPS antenna is low-gain antenna with some nodal sensitivity and if conditions are just right, it can lose enough satellites to lose lock.
This is all pretty far-fetched but it could be a reason for utilizing a high-gain external antenna with the Mcell.
04-19-2013 1:09 PM
@Avedis53 - a long time ago someone posted a question similar to yours about the orientation of the MicroCell. Some pics were posted of the interior of the MicroCell and if memory serves me correctly, the GPS transmitter/receiver is located towards the top end of the board. So, if the "flat" part of your MicroCell (the right side if you are facing the Microcell lights) is facing the sky (horizontal with the window), GPS lock was faster and stable. If your MicroCell is perpendicular to the window or the "left" side is facing the window, GPS lock could be troublesome. Of course this is all anecdotal but who knows?......
04-19-2013 5:53 PM
Funny,,,,,it's the right side of mine that is facing out through the window....anecdotal indeed....
Looking at the circuit board picture in the Anandtech review, the Mcell uses a Cirocomm ceramic GPS antenna that is perpendicularly mounted on the top of the Mcell circuit board towards the rear of the unit. Looking at the orientation of the antenna, one would think that it wouldn't matter as far as which side faced a window. However, being in the rear of the Mcell, turning the Mcell so the antenna could "see" outside better might help with reception....who knows?
04-19-2013 7:29 PM
The MicroCell certainly seems to fall into the "magic black box" category. I think the orientation of the antenna, theoretically, wasn't an issue. But there are too many setup situations available that the "beta" testers, who ever they were, couldn't adequately cover all the bases or situations possible. Interesting fer sure.
04-21-2013 7:52 PM
For what it's worth, My replacement M-cell has been working flawlessly for over two weeks now. My original unit was bad right out of the box. The replacement is working great. Thanks AT&T for taking care of this.
04-21-2013 8:23 PM
- edited 04-22-2013 2:03 PM
I saw your post and wanted to follow up with you. A manager will reaching out to you shortly to assist you with the Microcell. Appreciate you and want to get this resolved for you. ^Leslie
Thank you. Mike did leave me a message and I will be replying -- I thought I'd keep the forum up on where things stand.
As suggested by Otto here, I did a hard reset. I also relocated the microcell to sit in the window instead of next to it. The phones connected and have maintained a connection for almost 48 hours now. Though I am hopeful, the connection has lasted for a few days previously only to go back to a state where daily or more often power cycles are required.
I will monitor connectivity through the weekend and contact Mike on Monday.
Update: it failed again soon after I typed the above message.
I spoke with Mike and then someone from technical support contacted me. After describing the issue, setup, and troubleshooting steps I had performed previously, she seemed to think that the problem was not related to the microcell. I was asked to run a speed test right after the phones/microcell disconnected the next time. I said that I would try, but noted we typically don't notice the connection has dropped until we try to place a call, possibly hours after it has failed.
Somewhere during the conversation the call dropped -- but the microcell-cellphone connection did not drop. She called me back and we discussed the following:
We have been able to place and receive calls through the microcell even during our peak bandwith usage, which happens when watching Netflix through a Roku box.
The problem that, to me, most points to a problem with the microcell rather than anything else is that once the microcell-cellphone connection drops it cannot be reestablished even by power cycling the phones -- you must power cycle the microcell.
She agreed to send a refurbished microcell replacement and I'll let everyone know how things work out.
On a side note, I have since put my setup through a stress test -- HD movie streaming, Pandora, multiple data transfers, and two cellphones making calls through the microcell all at the same time -- which did not cause a problem.
04-22-2013 3:51 PM
That does sound like a MicroCell issue. The unit should be able to re-establish connection to your phones after an interruption. Unless your internet speeds (modem to provider) drop to less that 3Mbps or your upload drops to almost nil, you should still be able to connect. You may lose a call but MicroCell to phone should still indicate connection. Let us know how the refurb works out.
05-13-2013 4:50 PM
I read many of the postings in the thread but not all of them. I am impressed with the technical competence and diligence of the participants!
I have a Lumia 900 phone running Windows 7.8. I live in an area that was affected by Hurricane Sandy. After the storm, my house had just 1 bar so the ATT store gave me a microcell to allow me to receive phone calls at my house. This worked fine from November until mid April 2013.
In mid April 2013, the microcell has regularly but without schedule lost its connection with my phone. Then, I miss calls coming to me when I am at home. The only fix I have found is to unplug the MicroCell and then replug it in. Then, I power down my phone and repower it again. This process connects the phone to the MicroCell.
Before reading this thread, I had been thinking that the cause of the disconnect was related to my departures and returns to my home. I will now pursue trying to better define what makes the connection be lost.
I am contributing to this thread because I want the audience to know that this problem is not just an iPhone problem. It happens on other phone OS also.
If anyone has a Windows 7.8 phone and has found a solution, please let me know.
05-13-2013 6:37 PM
Hi Harry-NJ. We're starting to see more issues pop up with the Lumina phones and it doesn't really make sense to me. Some folks have both, iPhones and Lumina phones and the iPhones remain connected when the Lumina's drop off. I've asked this of other Lumina owners and have yet to get a response but have you upgraded the Lumina prior to it dropping connectivity? AT&T upgrades and does maintenance on their system from time to time and it's possible that whatever they've done to the local tower has resulted in some sort of incompatibility so that the Lumina's lose connection when polling the MicroCell and vice versa. If tower signal strengh is inconsistent, it may confuse the phone so it tries to connect/disconnect from the MicroCell or which ever is the stonger signal. When the MicroCell is turned on and off, it will attempt to adjust its power output relative to the detected power output of the closest tower so that it doesn't interfere. At least that's the theory. Some phones may be able to handle the fluctuations better than others. Do you have any "guests" registered with different phones. That may be a good test to see if it's the Lumina or the MicorCell. Improper handing off may also be a cause. I'm assuming the phone works just fine once it's out of the MicroCell's range and that when the Lumina does fail at home, all of the lights on the MicroCell are solid green.
05-14-2013 7:20 AM
Let me try to answer all your points below:
1. I have no one else at my house with a different phone that I could try to compare with, although that is a good idea. I am the only ATT customer while everyone else is Verizon! I switched to ATT to get the Lumia/Windows combo and have been generally pleased except for this very annoying problem.
2. I have Verizon FIOS as my internet provider, with their router. I have the Microcell hard-wired to the router. I did no special settings on the router to make the MicroCell work initially and I have not yet changed any router settings.
3. All the lights are solid green on the Microcell when this problem happens.
4. Turning the phone off and on does not do anything to fix it. The only solution is turning the Microcell off and on.
5. The phone works fine when its out of the Microcell's range
Regarding your first hypothesis re the cell tower, before Hurricane Sandy everything worked fine. I have hypothesized that the hurricane damaged a tower in my area and they never replaced it. The Microcell 'fixed' my problem and kept me as a ATT customer. But, perhaps there are still tower/power issues in my neighborhood that might interfere with the Microcell.
Is there a way to 'force' a Lumia 900 with Windows 7.8 to use the MicroCell if it is in range rather than letting it choose what to use?
05-14-2013 10:23 AM
By "hard wired" I'm assuming that the MicroCell is connected, via ethernet directly to the gateway. IOW, gateway -> MicroCell -> router. That is called Priority Connection and is used mainly as a trouble shooting connection (taking the router out of the chain), but there's nothing wrong with keeping it connected that way. If your connection is the recommended connection, gateway -> router -> MicroCell, and that worked before Sandy, then I don't see any reason, at this time, to change any router settings from what you had before. It's possible that Verizon could be doing something to your connection because of the on-going repairs (I know some folks still don't have service in some areas) but I would think that the 3G light would start blinking green or red.
Hurricane Sandy poses some problems. If all of your lights are solid green (power, ethernet, GPS, and 3G) that means connection to the AT&T servers is fine but I suspect that the connection with the local tower is sporadic. Not enough for the 3G to start blinking green but quick enough for the MicroCell to drop its transmission briefly. That in turn causes the Lumia to lose connection because the phone can't handle the variability. Power cycling the MicroCell forces it to adjust to the local tower again and your connectivity is re-established.
I don't think there is any way to make any cell phone preferentially use a femtocell other that to turn LTE on or off, which wouldn't affect the MicroCell anyway because it is 3G only.
Guesting another AT&T cell phone would certainly rule out the Lumia if the problem ocurred with that phone but as you said that's not possible in your situation. You can try to get AT&T to send you another MicroCell. Maybe it will be a little more robust in handling what ever problems there may be with the local tower.
05-14-2013 10:44 AM
It might be helpful to contact AT&T and ask them if there are any issues with their cell towers that reside in your area. If they say there is a residual problem due to Hurricane Sandy in your area then it might be worthwhile to wait until it is fixed before you request that AT&T replace your Mcell unless they can't tell you how long it will take.
If it is a problem on their end, another Mcell will probably exhibit the same symptoms as your current Mcell. That being said, knowing that Mcells are problematic to begin with, it wouldn't surprise me if yours went bad. Mine did and your problem is very similar to mine. A new one has solved my problem for the time being. Hopefully, yours is still under warranty.
- edited 05-14-2013 11:36 AM
As Avedis53 said, contacting support may be helpful and all you can do is wait it out. However, if they gave you a MicroCell in the first place because of Sandy, you might be able to push them for a replacement even if it's not under warranty. Can't hurt. If you haven't done so, contact CustomerCare (see the link in my sig) and report your issue. Give them as much detail as you can along with your contact info. They are usually more responsive than calling Customer Support.
05-15-2013 12:04 PM
I just found this thread and am pretty sure I have the same issue with the MCELL and our two iPhones, and a Blackberry. I messaged Customer Care. I will let you know how it goes