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Thread: Network Extender connection problems - strange call dropping behavior

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    Angry Network Extender connection problems - strange call dropping behavior

    I've read a lot of the sticky Network Extender release thread but I didn't think adding more posts to that would be the most appropriate thing to do -- apologies if for some reason I really should've posted this in there.

    I've had a Network Extender for 7 or so months now and it's been mostly good but intermittently fails in an annoying way. I've seen two symptoms so far and I'm pretty sure they're the same problem. Briefly:

    1) Calls will "drop". I put it in quotes because the handset doesn't abruptly lose the call like normal, instead the audio seems to cut out in one direction (I can hear the other party but they can't hear me, or vice versa) and eventually the call might actually drop. More often I'll realize what's going on and just hang up.
    2) Coincident with the above, the phone will not dial out. It will hang on the "Calling" screen and eventually say "Call was Lost" (like a normal dropped call). During this time when trying to dial out the WAN light on the network extender does *not* flash like it normally does while the data is flowing. This lasts several minutes. I can't even talk to the extender via #48 in this situation.

    My wife and I both have Moto Droids and I've seen this with both of them. I have not had the opportunity to test with any other phones for any extended amount of time.


    After that long lead-in, here's my real problem: I've called tech support half a dozen times. Updated the firmware on my router, etc. I've had 2 trouble tickets opened and spoken to the tech who worked on them. The process seems to be that he changes something, I "test" it, and tell him whether it worked or not. But the problem is intermittent and it always seems to come back. I exchanged the NE under the warranty and the new one seems to have the problem too. I'm losing confidence in the company's ability to solve the problem.

    I'm a software developer and I understand the troubleshooting process and that it's difficult to track down intermittent failures. However, it's still annoying having spent the money on this thing to fix cell service at my house and having it fail like this. The extender's lack of reliability is really the only thing that keeps me paying for a landline at this point.

    I thought I'd tell this story on this forum because I know there are a lot of knowledgable people here. Is there anything I can do to test this in more detail myself, or to more effectively troubleshoot?

    I don't notice any internet service interruptions coincident with the problems (and my internet service tends to be very fast and reliable). Not sure what other information would help.

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    Based on what you have already stated you have done, I would recommend attaching it to a friend's network and testing it there.

    -Frank

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank S View Post
    Based on what you have already stated you have done, I would recommend attaching it to a friend's network and testing it there.

    -Frank
    This.
    Sounds like and ISP problem to me. I hope OP means he called Comcast or whoever half a dozen times and isn't blaming Verizon for something beyond their control...

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    Yes, it sounds like a ISP problem. Contact them and see what they say.
    v Speed Test with my Motorola Droid in AL. Droid Does (and so Does Verizon).

    Speed Test with my Motorola Droid in Birmingham, AL. Droid Does (and so Does Verizon).^

    Speed Test with DSL internet with AT&T(Bellsouth). Horrible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CellKrazeDude View Post
    Yes, it sounds like a ISP problem. Contact them and see what they say.
    They'll say it's a VZW problem. I'm psychic!

    Really, it could also be a network problem inside his house (routers, switches, wireless or wired, etc.). Bottom line, the only way he's gonna find out is to get the NE out of his house and onto another network. Preferably with a different ISP. That should narrow it down to a networking/ISP issue verses a NE issue.

    Personally, I also think it's either an ISP issue or an internal networking issue (since he's already replaced the NE once). Having said that, it could also be his phones. So far he has not tried it on any phone except the Droid he and his wife owns. Sometimes there are "signal negotiation" issues with phones. I remember a number of folks with new Droids when they first came out having issues with the NE and their Droids.

    -Frank

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    Thanks.

    I haven't talked to my ISP about this, but I have brought up the possibility to Verizon that it's the ISP's problem and the tech support people I've talked to have never really pushed me in that direction. Although I do agree that it seems like a possibility. To be honest if they had suggested that I'd probably be less perturbed about the problem since as it is every time I've talked to Verizon about it they've seemed to want to try to fix it.

    I hadn't really thought of the phones being an issue considering it works the same way with both of ours so it would most likely have to be a model-specific thing. Considering there seem to be plenty of people with Droids using NEs just fine I'm not leaning in that direction.

    Testing the device on a friend's network or testing other phones at my house is going to be a little difficult given it can work for quite a while before failing. I may be able to test it somewhere else over some weekend, though. I can certainly vary the details of my home network a little (plug it directly into the cable modem instead of going through my router -- or maybe I can find a hub to test with) and see if that helps.

    I will call my ISP when I get a chance and see if they know anything. If it is a problem on their end I'm not sure what it is -- it's certainly not a bandwidth problem and I haven't noticed any service interruptions.

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    I feel your pain. I've had my NE for over a year and have had it replaced under warranty. I experience the issues you have described, although at very rare instances. All 5 of my phones will have the same trouble when the issue occurs. The phones in question are:

    Omnia II
    Dare
    Intensity
    ENV2 (2)

    All of the troubleshooting and other steps never completely resolve the issue. I usually unplug the NE from the power source for about an hour. Upon powering back on, the issue is almost always resolved. If not, I unplug it overnight and it always seems to work in the morning.

    The issue usually occurs after an interruption in DSL service, even if it only lats a few seconds. Of course, the issue does not always happen with a DSL interruption. In the 15 or so months I've had the NE, this has happened maybe 5-6 times. Enough to be annoying, but not enough to deter me from recommending the NE to others.
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    I had the same problem with my NE when I first got it. The problem occurred on both my Droid and my wifes Centro, and it happened so often that the NE was absolutely no use to me. I literally had it for 2 days before returning it. My intent was to be able to cancel my home phone service, but that obviously didn't pan out.

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    Are you running it through some wireless access point? I've seen several models of them that will get flakey -- eventualy some table in the access point fills up and it just starts randomly dropping packets or closing connections, some reset themselves and others have to be power cycled. Until I replaced the firmware on my access point with DD-WRT (which simply never seems to fail), I got ready to call the cable co several times when it turned out the access point needed a reset. I could also see this being a bug in the extender itself.

    I'm with rationull, neither one of these should be happening but it does. (Especially the access point -- I've seen it again and again where a company will get almost all the bugs worked out on the access point firmware, then the next model they're like "What the hell, we'll start over from scratch" and it's super super buggy again; sometimes they'll even release a new "version" of the "same" access point that has from-scratch firmware.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank S View Post
    They'll say it's a VZW problem. I'm psychic!

    Really, it could also be a network problem inside his house (routers, switches, wireless or wired, etc.). Bottom line, the only way he's gonna find out is to get the NE out of his house and onto another network. Preferably with a different ISP. That should narrow it down to a networking/ISP issue verses a NE issue.

    Personally, I also think it's either an ISP issue or an internal networking issue (since he's already replaced the NE once). Having said that, it could also be his phones. So far he has not tried it on any phone except the Droid he and his wife owns. Sometimes there are "signal negotiation" issues with phones. I remember a number of folks with new Droids when they first came out having issues with the NE and their Droids.

    -Frank
    Apparently not if it's Comcast. Someone in the Sprint forums said that Comcast flatout told him they don't support VoIp services. Ah the beauty of Comcrap.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe12304 View Post
    Apparently not if it's Comcast. Someone in the Sprint forums said that Comcast flatout told him they don't support VoIp services. Ah the beauty of Comcrap.
    That's a load of BS. If you have a solid Comcast connection, there is more than adequate bandwidth available to accommodate Network Extender traffic. The thing does not use very much bandwidth at all. A 768kbps DSL line should be more than enough. Yes, your Network Extender (VoIP) traffic will not be QoS'd over the Comcast network or Internet, but even if there is a hiccup, it should be transient. Something else is going on. Either your Internet connection has a problem (signal ingress, congested node, etc.); you have an internal network problem, the Network Extender does not work well with the Droid, or your Network Extender is bad.

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    I'm running it through an older D-Link 8021.11g/4 port router. This router is not flaky like some I've had in the past -- I can't ever recall having to reset it to clear up a connectivity problem and I've had it for 6 years or so -- although it's possible that it's flaky enough to screw up NE traffic but not quite enough to screw up web browsing or streaming media.

    It would be interesting to try another router, especially one that could run DD-WRT but I don't have access to one to test with and buying one just to test isn't all that tempting.

    One thing I did do was set the extender as the DMZ machine in my router. I already have it assigned a static [local] IP but I wouldn't think that would matter anyway. I wouldn't think the DMZ would matter anyway since my understanding is that the whole thing is working over an IPSec connection anyway (I would guess over a limited number of ports and to a limited number of remote addresses) and the router's firewall is set up to be somewhat permissive anyway. Within a few weeks I'll probably know if that made a difference.

    I will also try to call my cable company this weekend to see if they have any input.

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    Good luck. Let us know what you find out.
    Troubleshooting this sort of stuff can be frustrating...like finding a needle in a haystack!! I feel for you.
    I've always just plugged my NE into the router and it has worked fine. There is an occasional hiccup here and there due to a loss of Internet connectivity or a router reset (I used to have a Linksys WRT54G V5). Now running with a Netgear WNDR3700, stock firmware and no tweaks...and it's fine. I did no QoS, and just let it grab a DHCP address.
    The NE is designed to be idiot proof...just plug it in and let it do its thing. If you have to get involved, something is wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by limegrass69 View Post
    That's a load of BS. If you have a solid Comcast connection, there is more than adequate bandwidth available to accommodate Network Extender traffic. The thing does not use very much bandwidth at all. A 768kbps DSL line should be more than enough. Yes, your Network Extender (VoIP) traffic will not be QoS'd over the Comcast network or Internet, but even if there is a hiccup, it should be transient. Something else is going on. Either your Internet connection has a problem (signal ingress, congested node, etc.); you have an internal network problem, the Network Extender does not work well with the Droid, or your Network Extender is bad.
    It may be, but that's what was posted in the Sprint forum when someone called Comcast asking for help. An emphatic, "We don't support that. Bye Bye."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe12304 View Post
    It may be, but that's what was posted in the Sprint forum when someone called Comcast asking for help. An emphatic, "We don't support that. Bye Bye."
    That's pretty typical of any ISP. If it's anything behind their equipment (in this case, the cable modem), they want nothing to do with it. As far as they are concerned, anything you hook up is just another electronic device that sends and receives a bunch of 1's and 0's. There's nothing to support or not support.

    The ISP will run a diagnostic on your modem, and if it tests clean, the assumption (until proven wrong) is that the problem lies with the customer's equipment.

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