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MicroCell Activation Failed - Error Code 103?


MicroCell Activation Failed - Error Code 103?

I just bought a MicroCell and have been spending half the morning trying to get it activated.  Each time I try to activate it, I eventually get a Activation Failed message about 10-20 minutes into the activation process.  All the other lights (except computer) are solid green except the cell bar one that keeps flashing green.


After each failed activation attempt, AT&T sends me a text message indicating the failure and noting Error 103.  Does anyone know what Error 103 is?


I called the customer support and they set up a ticket to have it looked into.  Hopefully, I'll hear back from them.


Here's my setup:


VisionNet ADSL 202 Modem connected to an Airport Extreme base station (the Airport base station connects to the modem via PPOE, so I can't setup the MicroCell in "priority" mode directly to the DSL modem).


In checking this forum, it sounds like there might be some issues with the MicroCell and the Airport Extreme base station.  Is that correct?  Is there anything I can do to try and troubleshoot this to get it to work.


Any assistance or guidance is greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Message 1 of 28

Re: MicroCell Activation Failed - Error Code 103?

Is this the DSL modem/router you have?  It looks like there is a lot going on inside these VisionNet modems with its own NAT, firewall, IP filters, DMZ etc etc that can also cause issues.〈=en〈=en



I know myself and a few others here have the AirPort Extreme and its working fine.  This is how mine is set up.


Open the AirPort Utility.  On the left double-click on the router your wanting to set up (some people have more than one).


Click Internet in the top menu and then the DHCP tab.  I changed the DHCP Beginning Address so it ends in 100.  Now under the DHCP Reservation you will want to click the + button.  In the Description I called mine "AT&T MicroCell 3G" without the quotes of course.  Check to make sure the MAC Address box it checked and then click Continue.  Enter the MAC address for the MicroCell.  You can find it on the bottom of the MicroCell.  I always enter mine using the colon between ever 2 digits.  So it will look something like this XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX when done.  Next for the IPv4 Address for the last part I set mine to 10 so on mine is .. Now click Done.


Next click the NAT tab.  Click the Enable default host at: box and use the same 10 number like above.  Then click Update.  What the default host does is sets that IP address in the DMZ basically opening it up to all the ports.


After the router restarts I would unplug the MicroCell, wait a minute and then plug it back in to make sure it changes its IP address to what we set above.  Be patient as it can a little bit to get the green signal bar on the MicroCell to lock back up solid.

Message 2 of 28

Re: MicroCell Activation Failed - Error Code 103?

Thanks for the follow up Planet-Ed!  I appreciate it.


The VisionNet modem that I have is the ADSL 202 Modem that's the second of the links.  However, I have my Airport Extreme setup via PPOE to login to the modem directly, which I believe bypasses the NAT, firewall, IP filters, DMZ issues on this modem (I don't know this for sure).  We had to do this because with the ADSL 202 Modem logging into the PPOE and the Airport Extreme connected, there was a Double NAT issue.  Having the Airport Extreme do the PPOE has eliminated this issue.


I saw one of your earlier posts with the DHCP reservation method and did exactly this on my Airport Extreme and re-ran the activation process.   However, I'm still getting the same Activation Failed message, Error 103.  I wish someone out there had a guide to what the error messages mean.


Any other thoughts are greatly appreciated.  Thanks for your assistance.

Message 3 of 28

Re: MicroCell Activation Failed - Error Code 103?

 I too have been unable to connect with my microcell  over the last 2 weeks despite 6 phone contacts with technical support. 


I also receive multiple "activation failure error 103" via email.  I reset the router, tried directly connecting to the modem , etc and to no avail.  Some of our trouble shooting related to my address-I live out in the country and my actual address and GPS location may not be close enough .  As I am sure you know when trying to activate the microcell, it gets a GPS location and sends that to AT&T.  Presumably AT&T  then correlates that with the address you put in when registering the microcell.  Tech support inferred the problem when they said my latitude and longitude were a "couple of digits off". Just a couple of days ago I received a message saying"The problem is a known issue and we are working to resolve it.". 


My thought is for you to play a bit with your address on the microcell registration page and see if you can tweak it. You might start by popping your address into Google and see where it lands-tweak the address so it really lands on your location.  Just a thought-I don't know if it will work. 


Would greatly appreciate any feedback you might have after trying this.  Anyone out there have anything to add?


Desperate for signal!!!!!

Message 4 of 28

Re: MicroCell Activation Failed - Error Code 103?

Make sure IPSec Passthrough is enabled on your router.

Message 5 of 28

Re: MicroCell Activation Failed - Error Code 103?

I, too, have been trying unsuccessfully for over two weeks to activate my 3G Microcell.  I have tried both configuration A and B.  I have spent about two hours on the phone with an AT&T technician, and have exchanged the microcell for another one, all to no avail.  There is no firewall blocking anything, the cable modem is a Linksys modem with nothing but passthrough capabilities.  My internet connection is very good, and my ISP reports that they do not block any ports.  Anybody else still having this problem or find any solutions?  I am getting frustrated and desperate.  We do not have a landline and I am tired of dropped calls.

Message 6 of 28

Re: MicroCell Activation Failed - Error Code 103?



At the time that you get the activation failure, which lights on the MicroCell are lit and which are not?


What is the brand/model of your modem and your router (if one exists)?


Message 7 of 28

Re: MicroCell Activation Failed - Error Code 103?

Got a bit farther today-received a call from AT&T.  He confirmed what I had suspected in my earlier post-error 103 (with the resulting flashing 3G light) does refer to an address mismatch. 



That is, the location determined by the GPS in the microcell and the location of the address one enters online for microcell activation must match.  For the online address you enter, they use the United States postal service website (  They typed in my address there to confirm that my address was valid (which it was).  They are now going to put in a ticket to enter a GPS offset (my theory) so it will work. 


It does puzzle me  a great deal as to why engineering did NOT tell tech support earlier about what this error means.  Hours were spent by me and the otherwise helpful AT&T  support trying to figure out what the nature of the problem was.


I'll let you all know if in fact my problem is solved-they will call back tommorrow and let me know about the fix........

Message 8 of 28

Re: MicroCell Activation Failed - Error Code 103?

All of the lights on the microcell are steady except the 3g light which keeps blinking.  I have used both the Motorola Surboard 5101 modem that my IP provided as well as a Linksys BEFCMU10 that I purchased.  My wireless router is a Cisco Valet Plus.  We have tried both Option A and Option C.  I spent about two hours on the phone with an AT&T tech and nothing that we tried would give me a steady 3g light. 

Message 9 of 28

Re: MicroCell Activation Failed - Error Code 103?

Problem solved. Fairly certain error 103 that I was receiving was an address mismatch (see my discussion above) They fixed it and it works just great.

Message 10 of 28

Re: MicroCell Activation Failed - Error Code 103?

Hi mnigogos, I think I got my issue squared away as well. 


After a few talks with AT&T customer service (it took them 5 days initially to call me back from my original post!), it appears that the address I'm using the Microcell at is not in their database.   The address I registered for activation kept automatically changing to a wrong zip code after I entered it in the system.  In essence, it was the wrong address and wrong zip code.  Error 103 was the result of an incorrect address in their system.


The customer service person I spoke to today found an address down the street that was correctly noted in the system with the right zip code.  He said I could use that address and the MicroCell would work, but with the caveat that the E911 service would note the wrong house.  He said this would be a temporary fix until they could update their database to put in the right address for my location.  I reactivated the MicroCell remotely with this temporary address and it activated.  I have not had a chance to test it out yet though.  I also received a call from customer service saying that they say the device was activated so they think the problem is solved - I need to call them back to make sure they correct their database with the right address so I can properly register the MicroCell. 


It looks like a little more hassle, but I should be good to go here shortly.  Thanks again for your assistance.  Greatly appreciated!

Message 11 of 28

Re: MicroCell Activation Failed - Error Code 103?

That nails it-Error 103= location mismatch.  Glad I could help!

Message 12 of 28

Re: MicroCell Activation Failed - Error Code 103?

The AT&T tech I have been communicating with said that error 103 is not related just to location mismatch.  In my case, there appears to be an issue of fragmented packets being blocked.  This is strange to me, because even with the microcell plugged directly into the cable modem, the same error occurs.  I have talked with a level 2 tech person with my cable company who assured me that nothing is being blocked.  Others in my city with the same cable company are not having any issues with the microcell.  The AT&T tech told me that my cable modem needed to be configured to enable fragmentation, but there is nothing that will allow me to make any changes on the modem.  I have a Linksys BEFCMU10 that I purchased.  When I first purchased the microcell, I had a Motorola Surfboard 5101 provided by the cable company.  Same issue.  I'm tired of seeing a blinking 3g light.  Any ideas?

Message 13 of 28

Re: "de 103?

I suppose the true meaning of Error Code 103 is uncertain.  Perhaps the "address mismatch" was about networks, not street addresses?  


If anyone gets more information about the meaning, corroborating or not, please reply here.  


I have also received the email with subject "Activation Failure (Error 103)".  The tech support person I talked to did not have any idea what the error meant.


I was unable to deactivate my 3G Microcell by using the link  "Disconnect Your 3G Microcell Device" because the submit Disconnect web page did not work: it only sent a short msg to the server and redisplayed the same Disconnect or Cancel page; neither logging in again nor changing browsers could put the server side into activation Pending mode.


I found a workaround:   use "Add a New 3G MicroCell Device Location" to add your same address (perhaps with some minor variation like St. instead of Street).  Making that new location active will trigger device activation, and that way you can try again.  The device status on the page changed to Pending in a few minutes after I did this.  


Message 14 of 28

MicroCell Activation Failed - Error Code 103 + FTC193

Thank you all for the information you provided in this thread.  It helped me convince the AT&T technicians that the address mismatch was the problem -- and it was!  After over 20 hours of troubleshooting, every conceivable option with no luck, everything always pointed back to the address mismatch.  I'm going to list the particulars of my situation.  If it's looking familiar to you, then I highly suggest you persist with tech support -- at first they will be very resistant -- but keep on them and get them to override your address location.


Persistent Errors:


  • Error 103 -- Seen in text messages and email indicating failed activation.
  • FTC193 -- Seen on the activation webpage after activation failed.
  • My guess is that these two errors are linked to this particular problem.
  • Power, Internet, and GPS lights all consistently solid.  3G indicator, always flashing.



My location:


  • Very remote and rural.  Yet, AT&T coverage maps indicate that I should have the strongest possible EDGE (2G) network coverage.  So I am well within their service area. (Too bad I do not receive indicated service.)
  • No online mapping service has an accurate map of my neighborhood: Google, Yahoo!, and Bing all get it wrong.  More telling, they all get it wrong in a different way.  Though no one at AT&T seems to know who supplies their mapping data, it is probably a service like NAVTEQ which is a supplier to many mapping applications.
  • My 3G MicroCell reports the correct latitude and longitude coordinates to the AT&T technicians.  This point is important when the technicians inevitably have you running in circles trying to troubleshoot your equipment.  Logically, if the MicroCell is reporting latitude and longitude information to AT&T then it must be talking to their service somehow.  In other words, despite their insistence, it was not a problem with my home network, equipment or ISP.
  • Once AT&T pulls the GPS coordinates it often shows them being 30 miles east or west of my actual location.  In fairness, I suspect that this is not the fault of AT&T, and actually is the problem with their map data provider.
  • Some people have suggested using a different nearby address.  For me that is improbable given the previous point.  Also, it defeats the whole point of having an address associated -- proper E911 reporting.  My advice: Don't let AT&T talk you into using the wrong address.  Having the right E911 information might save a life one day.  Instead, respectfully request that AT&T address this problem in their system.  It should not take countless hours on the part of each affected customer to make a simple correction to their database.
My Equipment:
  • I have a steady 8 mbps down / 725 kbps up DSL connection.  What's that mean?  I can stream two separate HD video streams to two devices and still surf the web and remote into my corporate network without noticing any lag.  It should be fast enough for a simple voice call.
  • I use a Westell DSL modem.
  • It is connected to an Apple Time Capsule router.  The router components of this device are very similar to an Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station.
  • My 3G MicroCell is connected to the Apple Time Capsule router.
  • The 3G MicroCell does not require any special settings changes to the Time Capsule to permit the service to work.  I didn't have to open up ports 500 or 4500 or anything like that.
Troubleshooting History:
  • I've spent at least 20 hours trying every suggestion the AT&T support technicians had.  Most of them several times just to be sure.
  • I've tried configuration options A, B, and C -- that did not solve the problem.
  • I tried opening up ports 500 & 4500 -- that did not solve the problem.
  • I tried plugging the 3G MicroCell directly into the modem with all firewalls turned completely off -- that did not solve the problem.
  • I tried returning an original unit to the store and then tried a replacement -- that did not solve the problem.
  • I tried many other configuration settings and connections (like those listed on page 6 of the troubleshooting PDF) as well, but in the end -- that did not solve the problem.
What Seemed to Work:
In the end, I put everything back to its normal operating condition.  Plugged in the MicroCell just like any other device and pointed the technicians to this thread.  After two hours of going back and forth, making them focus on this thread, they finally agreed to do a GPS offset.  And suddenly, when that happened, my 3G MicroCell started working.  I got a text message and email from AT&T indicating that activation was successful.
Now the bad news:
The activation worked for slightly over 24 hours, but now I'm back in the same spot.  I suspect that whatever kind of override they did somehow reverted.  In fact when I look at the Activation webpage it is showing the wrong address again.  I think they are starting to address the issue, but haven't quite realized the scope or how to make it a systematic and permanent fix.
I would like to also mention that everyone I talked to about this was very polite and professional, even though they weren't able to help.  Unlike many others in these forums, their technicians always called me back when they said they would, and always within a day.  I was extremely disappointed in AT&T's phone system, constantly getting dumped -- I finally resorted to making them immediately call me back, because it would be 10-20 minutes navigating through their system to find someone who even knew what a 3G MicroCell was.  If you call, make sure you ask for the Laptop Connect department.
I hope this information helps anyone else struggling with these issues.
If you are, and you think you're in a similar situation, then point your AT&T technicians to this thread.


Message 15 of 28
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