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Reception Problems

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Reception Problems

Hello,

 

I live in a rural area with poor DSL (1.32 mbps - Dn / .29 mbps - Up).  

 

My home has a galvalume roof.  I am using a MicroCell to help with my phone reception, but it is very poor and unreliable.

 

What I don't understand is my phone shows 5 bars of reception, yet the calls are choppy.  Reception will drop off then return, so I might miss 50 percent of the conversation.

 

My MicroCell is positioned at the window beside my computer and AT&T (Netgear) router.

 

I use a Samsung, and my husband uses an LG.

 

* As a side note, outside the house the phone reception is not great but tolerable,

 

Any suggestions?

Thank you!

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Message 1 of 14
ACE - Expert

Re: Reception Problems

@SusanEBB - this is a very old, and common problem. You have a lot working against you. One, rural areas are difficult because of the scarcity of cellular towers which the MicroCell needs for location verification and other "maintenance". The MicroCell does not use the local tower to send/receive calls but it does need it for other purposes. Second, the realistic minimum download speeds are a stable 3.0Mbps down and 512kbps up. Third, DSL connections in rural areas are difficult because of line quality issues and speed limitations due to distance.

 

The MicroCell needs a stable internet connection with reasonable speeds. Your internet can be fine but VoIP has specific needs so while your internet may be fine, voice quality suffers.

 

Which MicroCell do you have, the white or black model and are you the original owner or did you purchase it second hand?

 

Sales of the MicroCell by AT&T were discontinued at the end of 2017 because the MicroCell has reached its EOL. The MicroCell service will continue until AT&T begins to transition away from their 3G network. At that point in time, the MicroCell will cease to work. Your only options are to look into a cellular booster (see my Cellular Booster Guide, link is in my sig line), but they require at least a stable 1 to 2 bars of signal strength, or switch carriers. WiFi-C is another option if your phone supports it but you need a stable WiFi connection, reasonable speeds, and your area needs to be provisioned for VoLTE. Being in a rural area with a weak signal may be a problem.

 

As far as your current setup goes, the MicroCell needs to be within 18" of a window with an unobstructed view of the sky and at least 2' away from any WiFi device (router) to eliminate any possible interference. The router also needs to meet the minimum router requirements as detailed in my Tech Guide (link is also in my sig line).

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

Award for Community Excellence 2019 Achiever*
*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 2 of 14
ACE - Professor

Re: Reception Problems

@SusanEBB This is probably going to sound "goofy", but what happens if you put the Microcell in the window, and use the phone outside, a few feet from it?

 

Sheet metal can be VERY hard on a radio signal, but I'm surprised that your Microcell struggles as much, being "under the roof", along with the mobile device.

What about WiFi calling, do you have phones that are ATT-Branded, or (recent) iOS?  I would bet WiFiC would work a LOT better, than the Microcell...

 

This is interesting though, otherwise. I've long been considering a metal roof, the next time we need one (probably another 10 years or so, if we're lucky), I'm glad I saw your post here. I'll probably do some more research on this side of things, before moving forward, at that time.

*If this (or another post in this thread) fixes your problem/issue, please mark it as "accept-solution", and I'll tag it, to make it easier for others to find the answer(s). FYI: I'm an AT&T end-user, just like most of us in the forum. Thanks.

Award for Community Excellence 2019 Achiever*
*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 3 of 14
ACE - Expert

Re: Reception Problems

@pgrey - when I was still using our MicroCell with a DSL connection (20/5 speeds) at our previous house we had a metal roof installed. There were no reception issues before, or after installation of the metal roof. Calls were always clear and stable. The OP's issue is not the metal roof but the internet connection. I'm not even sure that WiFi-C would be any better because it goes thru the internet as well to gain access to the AT&T Mobility Servers. A 1.2Mbps/290kbps DSL connection is the problem.

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

Award for Community Excellence 2019 Achiever*
*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 4 of 14
Tutor

Re: Reception Problems

Thank you for responding!

I haven't tried standing outside the MicroCell's window, but I do have one
odd thing. I tried different positions, for the MicroCell, near the window.
The one position that actually gives me fewer choppy conversations was
placing it, under the window, on the floor to the left of the center stud -
better but not great. Who knows?



Without the MicroCell, I have one bar of reception inside my house (under
the galvalume roof). In the yard, I have two to three bars of reception.

Thanks again.
Message 5 of 14
Tutor

Re: Reception Problems

Thank you for responding!

We have the black MicroCell model and received it new from AT&T. Should I
try to find a used white MicroCell?

We don't have WiFi.

Without the MicroCell, we usually have one bar of reception inside (under
the galvalume roof).

In the yard, we have two to three bars of reception.



One more question, do you know if a DSL land line can simultaneously be used
as a phone?



I appreciate you time.
Message 6 of 14
ACE - Professor

Re: Reception Problems

@SusanEBB You'd be better off to install a "good WiFi router", in this case, such as a "Google Hub", a "Netgear Orbi", or my personal favorite (but requires more tech know-how to configure), Unifi APs.  I would NOT suggest buying a super-bargain WiFi router, because you'll likely end up in the same boat; if you have a budget (or even want to do this), I'm sure we can direct you towards a "good WiFi router, in that range".

 

To the point made by @OttoPylot , if you have a "marginal" DSL connection (pretty much the worst kind of internet connection, in this day/age, but still a LOT better than nothing), then you should run a few VOIP tests, and pay particular attention to "latency" and "jitter" values.

I like: https://www.dslreports.com/tools/pingtest, and, https://getvoip.com/speed-test-tool/, and there's another fave that I found recently that actually graphs out your ping/jitter, on the graph (not finding it right now though), so you can see "obvious degradation", if it's occurring.

If you run a couple of these, and share the results (possibly removing your home-IP address, depending), we'd have a good idea of the "line quality", overall, which is what @OttoPylot was mentioning, in terms of your Microcell, too.  If the DSL line-quality is poor, the Microcell is only going to "amplify" that, whereas a good WiFi setup should be MUCH less affected (still affected, but probably plenty functional, for calls).

 

And yes, your DSL (at almost any speed/volume) can support MANY voice streams (calls), at once, over a WiFi connection, if you hook one up.  I really think this is going to be your best solution here...

This article  does a great job of showing the math, and the fact that a line with just a "bit more" than your (pretty slow) DSL line could easily handle 5 calls, simultaneously, along with some moderate amount of internet use (i.e. NOT concurrent streaming).

*If this (or another post in this thread) fixes your problem/issue, please mark it as "accept-solution", and I'll tag it, to make it easier for others to find the answer(s). FYI: I'm an AT&T end-user, just like most of us in the forum. Thanks.

Award for Community Excellence 2019 Achiever*
*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 7 of 14
ACE - Expert

Re: Reception Problems

@SusanEBB - the black model, the DPH-154, was the last iteration of the MicroCell. The white model is the older version. They are basically the same only the footprint was made smaller for the black model, the radios were improved a bit, and Cisco/AT&T did away with the external antenna port and the computer port.

 

Not having WiFi is a problem but even if you did, at a 2.0Mbps or less download speed I'm surprised that the MicroCell works at all.

 

If you can get 2 -3 bars of reception outside of your home then a cellular booster would probably be your best bet. Please refer to my Cellular Booster Guide for information on how they work, how they are installed, and the various options.

 

To be honest, your internet speeds are your problem (and possibly your DSL wiring as well). We have always recommended at least a 3.0Mbps download and a 512kbps upload for MicroCell reliability. I know the official MicroCell literature has speeds that are less but in real-world situations, and based on lots of experience over the years, 3.0/512 are really the minimum. And those speeds have to be consistent and your line clean enough for VoIP. There are certain parameters that need to be met and maintained for VoIP to work reliably (call quality). That's what we mean by a clean line. We used to recommend voiptest.8x8.com as a site that you could use to perform a voiptest but I don't think they are active anymore. There may be other free voiptest sites that you can use and then post your results back here. However, if you do have a poor line then you need to convince your provider so they can allocate resources (technical end or a physical truck roll) to fix it. Even then, at your speeds it just may not be enough.

 

DSL uses your old existing POTS telephone line so yes, you can use DSL for interent and have a land line as well. I did that very thing for years. You do need to use a filter to separate your voice line from your DSL (internet) line but that's easy to do. The difficult thing would be finding a CO (Central Office) who is still offering landline service to your home. Just remember, you'd be sharing your landline with your internet service on the same physical copper line, and at your current speeds, there may be issues.

 

AT&T did, or still does, offer a Wireless Home Phone service that supposedly works with the MicroCell as well but that had lots of issues. Being as the MicroCell has reached its EOL AT&T is not going to go out its way to help you with a product that they no longer offer and a service that will be going away. They are going to push you to WiFi-C, but if you don't have WiFi......

 

You can certainly get faster speeds with satellite internet but the MicroCell will not work reliably with that technology and in fact AT&T puts in their MicroCell literature that they do not support satellite or wireless internet. The MicroCell is strictly designed for land-based internet service, which is cable, DSL, or fiber.

 

Unless you can get cable with faster speeds you may have to seriously look into a cellular booster. Housing material and construction can affect in-home MicroCell coverage and if that is the cause of your situation, there is not much you can do other than look into the alternatives.

 

How are you setup if you don't have WiFi?

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

Award for Community Excellence 2019 Achiever*
*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 8 of 14
Tutor

Re: Reception Problems

I will read and do everything you have suggested. I appreciate your help
and patience.



Meanwhile, I have never activated my personal home WiFi until today. Even
though my internet is pathetic, I activated it anyway.

I'm showing my ignorance here. Isn't WiFi for web browsing on my phone or
could it possibly enhance my phone conversations?

I have so much data available in my phone package; I've never considered
using WiFi.
Message 9 of 14
Tutor

Re: Reception Problems

I will read and act on your suggestions. Thank you.

For now, I activated my personal home WiFi today using the Netgear router
provided by AT&T. With all the data in my phone package, I never saw the
need for WiFi.

I appreciate the time you've spent helping me.
Message 10 of 14
ACE - Professor
Solution
Accepted by topic author
Accepted by SusanEBB
‎07-02-2019 8:12 AM

Re: Reception Problems

@SusanEBB Your Internet-connection/Wifi can be used for a LOT of things, voice calls (both VOIP land-line AND cellular being just two of them) are just another example.

 

If you've got ATT-branded devices (or iOS devices, but for your case it sounds like a Samsung and LG phone, probably ATT branded), and you connect them to your WiFi, they'll use it, when the signal is stronger (than the weak cellular through your roof), inside your house, to make voice calls.

 

Yeah, you've got really slow DSL, but assuming it's stable (you can check that, with those tools I mentioned), it's really got plenty of bandwidth, for simultaneous calls, at least a few.   You're paying for it, might was well use it! ;-]

*If this (or another post in this thread) fixes your problem/issue, please mark it as "accept-solution", and I'll tag it, to make it easier for others to find the answer(s). FYI: I'm an AT&T end-user, just like most of us in the forum. Thanks.

Award for Community Excellence 2019 Achiever*
*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Tags (1)
Message 11 of 14
ACE - Expert
Solution
Accepted by topic author
Accepted by SusanEBB
‎07-02-2019 8:12 AM

Re: Reception Problems

@SusanEBB - WiFi and WiFi-C are two separate things. WiFi can be used for anything internet-related. WiFi-C uses your WiFi connection to access the AT&T mobility servers, much the same way the MicroCell does. Enabling WiFi does not automatically enable WiFi-C. You need to find the WiFi Calling option on your phone and enable that as well. Not all AT&T phones are able to access WiFi-C on AT&T’s network. You would need to check with AT&T, or post your phone models here to check for compatibility.

 

Your speeds are marginal at best for the MicroCell. It can work but any amount of jitter, especially at those speeds is going to affect call quality. 

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

Award for Community Excellence 2019 Achiever*
*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Tags (1)
Message 12 of 14
Tutor

Re: Reception Problems

First of all, thank you for trying to help me with my reception problems.

I tested the Jitter Factor with the MicroCell. It was off the charts, so I
disconnect the MicroCell. I have anywhere from one bar to three bars of
reception in the house. If I stay away from the center of the house, the
quality of my reception is very good. The quality of one bar without the
MicroCell is way better than five bars with the MicroCell. I've tested it
over the last two weeks. I am shocked and relieved.

Thank you again!

cc: @pgrey
Message 13 of 14
ACE - Expert

Re: Reception Problems

@SusanEBB - excessive jitter on your line really screws with voice quality. Unfortunately, that is an ISP problem and something that AT&T can't fix, only your ISP can. How your line is physically connected can also play a big factor. Old wiring, rusted wiring, poor connections, etc can all play a factor. And if I remember correctly, your speeds are just not adequate enough for the MicroCell. Sorry.

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

Award for Community Excellence 2019 Achiever*
*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 14 of 14
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