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Thread: Jumpy Cell Signal?

  1. #1
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    Jumpy Cell Signal?

    I've had this issue for a while with my phone, Motorola Droid 2 Global, though I am pretty certain it isn't the phone's fault. Ever since I came to Burlington, VT my cell signal in my dorm has been jumpy as hell, it goes from 1-4 bars all the time, jumping from 1 to 3 to 1 constantly. Now I would normally just think that this is some bad reception maybe, but last weekend in my dorm my phone got 4 bars nonstop all weekend, and easily was hitting 1.4-1.8mbps down all day. Once the week started, speeds plummeted, ping went to hell, and though the ping fixed itself, my speeds still suck, I averaged my last couple days of speed tests, and ignoring the ones that didn't complete, I am just averaging .59mbps, which I guess is sort of within verizon's 600-1400kbps levels, but the signal instability still bothers me, and my phone even dropped to 1x for a few seconds today which surprised me. Also that .59mbps is including nighttime speeds from 12-3am, when no one is on, during the day my speeds average 200-500kbps most of the time.

    As for the actual signal strength, in my dorm it is between -60 and -70 dbm, and I am using verizon's latest prl for the northeast, 52297. Are these issues I am having likely on verizon's end, and is it worth calling them and explaining the issue or asking for them to submit a help ticket or something, or should i just accept this as the way things are where I am? I am leaving here in less than a week and am tempted to let it go, but at the same time I just need to know if it's verizon's issue or my issue. Thanks for any help anyone can offer, it's been driving me insane.

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    Sounds like signs of an overloaded tower.

    Call tech support, tell them you have an updated PRL, pulled your battery, etc. and that the issue persists and that you would like to file a trouble ticket.

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    Well after a 2nd sbf I am seeing 3-4 bars consistently again, and though the ping tests are seriously messed up on speedtest for my phone, the downloads are all over 1mbps now which is nice. If it is back to normal with crappy reception and speeds on sunday or monday I will definitely call in again though. I just find it amazing how suddenly the issue can come and go sometimes, and I would have thought it was an overloaded tower because speeds for a couple days got back to being pretty good at night, but the last 3 or 4 nights speeds even at night are just as bad as during the day, maybe a bit better, but nowhere near what I have been used to. I just don't see how speeds can suddenly become 1/2 or less what they used to be over the course of a week.

    These speeds are just so highly unreliable.

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    It sounds like you are/were having the exact same problem I was in my apartment.

    My problem ended up being that two towers were constantly fighting over my phone. Neither are crowded, but because I was in that grey area, my phone would constantly be pulled in two directions. I am on the 3rd floor, and looking out my window, I see the downtown site. I turn around, walk 20 feet, open the door, and I see the Waller Ave. site. So, while my phone mostly settles on the downtown site, every now and then my phone will go from 4 bars of 3G to 0 bars and no G (as in, neither 3G or 1X icon). Then, it comes back with a weaker 3G signal (Waller Ave) which lasts for about 2 minutes before it goes back to the downtown site. This happens NOWHERE else...even in my brothers apartment next door. I have no idea why it does this, but it is very frustrating.

    The only difference in my issue and yours concerns the speeds...mine are never slow. But when you said your signal is jumpy, I had to throw my 2 cents in...because that is what was happening with me.

    Glad to know it is working out better, but yes, I would file a ticket if it keeps this up.
    I'm just a twenty-something year old college graduate speaking geek on HoFo!

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    Yeah, that's slightly different from my issue, mine jumps like nonstop, in a 60 second period it can jump from 3 to 1 to 2 to 1 to 3, just like that. As for the speeds being better, it was only after my 2nd sbf/activation today and on the old firmware for my phone, I updated again and it is back to being crappy, but I know on this firmware it can be good too, so I'm not sure if these issues are happening as I update, or if something in my phone is changing, but I'm guessing the network. All the same speeds are jumping between 300kbps and 1.2mbps I'd say, it is just so unstable. I'll call them tomorrow and see what can be done. I really want to, I just hate dealing with the tech people for any company, and they always assume you know next to nothing, and I don't really know much, except that my service sucks, but it has the potential to be great like it was all last weekend, so there must be something causing interference, whether it's an overcrowded tower and they were testing a new one last weekend, or just something around the area that interferes with reception but not the actual signal strength.

    Also if your phone was jumping onto a weak tower, I imagine you could check the signal strength in dbm and see it was significantly weaker. Right now my phone has 1 bar but -68dbm, hardly a weak signal. My sprint/virgin mobile phone and tmobile phones both would never have had a signal that strong and have shown it as anything less than 4 bars.

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    Have you tried using others phones? Sorry if you already clarified that, it is getting late lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trocks797 View Post
    Have you tried using others phones? Sorry if you already clarified that, it is getting late lol
    Sadly none other on verizon other than my old lg voyager but that was close to a year ago and I couldn't ever test speeds to even get an idea on anything from then. However this past school year I spent the start of it on tmobile prepaid with a g1 for a couple months, just 2g, no 3g or data service though, I can only comment on the 2g signal reception and number of bars represented there, but it seemed pretty linear. Same with my samsung intercept on virgin mobile i had that for 2-3 months, speeds were terrible, we're talking 300-600kbps all the time, never once even at 3am would they go higher. Signal reception was good though. On tmobile I should also note that they don't really exist in vt, you can't buy a phone number for them here. However in my city they do have a couple towers at least.

    Anyway not sure what the reason you are asking for is, but I'd love to know. I talked to my friend who is a communications major about all of this yesterday because it seemed odd to me that dbm on the droid 2 global didn't correlate directly with a certain number of bars, but he explained it is more complex than that. However if sprint and tmobile never had signal stability issues in this room I don't see why verizon should. It only bothers me so much now because it wasn't this bad or unstable a before last weekend, like I said it was amazing last weekend in both speed and number of bars, then monday came and it just all dropped and became terrible.

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    Only inside of the dorm or outside in the open also?
    Nokia Lumia 900, Nokia N9, Nokia N8, Pantech UML290 LTE USB card (Verizon), Zyxell 3/4G Router MWR222

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    I haven't really paid much attention outside, I am by a window and the dorm isn't exactly a brick building or anything. However I am on the 5th floor. I can say that signal is about the same on the ground and speeds are the same, can't say if the signal is quite as jumpy or not though. I can say for sure that it doesn't make a marked improvement though.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ben7337 View Post
    Sadly none other on verizon other than my old lg voyager but that was close to a year ago and I couldn't ever test speeds to even get an idea on anything from then. However this past school year I spent the start of it on tmobile prepaid with a g1 for a couple months, just 2g, no 3g or data service though, I can only comment on the 2g signal reception and number of bars represented there, but it seemed pretty linear. Same with my samsung intercept on virgin mobile i had that for 2-3 months, speeds were terrible, we're talking 300-600kbps all the time, never once even at 3am would they go higher. Signal reception was good though. On tmobile I should also note that they don't really exist in vt, you can't buy a phone number for them here. However in my city they do have a couple towers at least.

    Anyway not sure what the reason you are asking for is, but I'd love to know. I talked to my friend who is a communications major about all of this yesterday because it seemed odd to me that dbm on the droid 2 global didn't correlate directly with a certain number of bars, but he explained it is more complex than that. However if sprint and tmobile never had signal stability issues in this room I don't see why verizon should. It only bothers me so much now because it wasn't this bad or unstable a before last weekend, like I said it was amazing last weekend in both speed and number of bars, then monday came and it just all dropped and became terrible.
    I was asking because if you have a buddy with a Droid or Fascinate or whatever and theirs isn't doing the same thing, you can pretty much eliminate the network as the issue.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trocks797 View Post
    I was asking because if you have a buddy with a Droid or Fascinate or whatever and theirs isn't doing the same thing, you can pretty much eliminate the network as the issue.
    Ah that's true. Sadly AT&T is king here, I don't know many people with verizon, and lots of people oddly enough don't even have smartphones. I need more technologically adept friends I guess haha. Even if I could prove it was my phone to myself though, how would I prove it to a verizon representative in order to get my phone replaced. I mean I've never seen this jumpy signal thing when I am out in classes or at other places, though I do see the same speeds. The only thing that might be a good proof of issue is if my phone has much slower speeds than phones in the store I guess.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ben7337 View Post
    Ah that's true. Sadly AT&T is king here, I don't know many people with verizon, and lots of people oddly enough don't even have smartphones. I need more technologically adept friends I guess haha. Even if I could prove it was my phone to myself though, how would I prove it to a verizon representative in order to get my phone replaced. I mean I've never seen this jumpy signal thing when I am out in classes or at other places, though I do see the same speeds. The only thing that might be a good proof of issue is if my phone has much slower speeds than phones in the store I guess.
    Well I can tell you they build stores in areas with SUPERB signal for obvious reasons, and if not, they have in-store repeaters. But you can have your phone replaced under the 1 year warranty if you accumulate enough notes on your account. Go to a store, explain the problem and have them make notes on your account. Then call later and have that person do the same..

    But all of that is IF it is the network. If you really cannot find anyone with a Verizon phone to test your dorm, see if a family member (are you on a family plan?) can test their phone at the dorm.

    As far as the network...you should locate the closest tower. Once you do that, you need to test the hell out of that tower while you are under it. Make sure that the issue lies somewhere in the distance from your dorm room to the cell site. If you are having incredible speeds and pings under the tower, then that tower is not an issue. If your pings and speeds are still bad under the tower, the cell site has back haul has issues. This would show itself as slow speeds and/or terrible pings while under it no matter when you test (11pm-5am to be sure). File a trouble ticket. If your speeds are fine under the tower, your phone either cannot establish a reliable connection from your dorm, or while in your dorm, you are not even using that tower.

    As far as locating the tower: Where are you located (City, State)? Verizon panels are particularly easy to locate on a tower. In most 850/1900 markets, there are 2 short panels on the ends of the rack facing you (this rack is shaped like a triangle most of the time, with identical panels on all three sides). These two end panels may be "tapered" at the top and bottom. You will see what I mean in the pictures below. Between these 2 short panels, there is 1 that is either the same size or taller, but is typically in the shape of a cylinder (No edges) (this is 3G EVDO). Depending on your area, you may also have 1 MASSIVE panel. That is for 4GLTE. Here is a picture of my local tower...Verizon is on top.



    Notice the tapering on the 1X panels? If you see these panels with a single panel in between them (not tapered, and taller), that is definitely VZW. Additionally you may have that MASSIVE LTE panel. This picture is of the same tower, after LTE upgrade:



    If all else fails and you cannot find the tower based on that, look around the base of the site for equipment with Verizon branding.

    If your speed and pings are great around that site, either your phone is having issues with that site from your dorm, or your phone is pulling off a DAS or some other type of in-building repeater that may be having issues. Your first move is to find the closest tower you can and see if that tower is having problems. Running speedtests under that tower will answer a lot of your questions. Go as late in the day or as early in the morning as you can, then report back. Good luck!

  13. #13
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    Even in my dorm I can pull off 125-200ms pings a decent amount of the time, though it will more commonly be 200-300. Even when my speeds suck, ping is usually fine.

    Right now I am in Burlington, VT. I have tried to find the towers before with apps that show tower location or other such things, but have never had any luck because signal maps all only show signal on the one main road by me, and tower apps say how they cannot really pinpoint the location of cdma towers. I can say I have a vague idea of where one tower might be, but whether it is the tower I am on right now or not I cannot be sure. Aside from that fact that i have never noticed a cell tower in all my life, VT hates anything that ruins scenery, the state bans billboards, high signs, etc. I'd be surprised if the towers are easy to spot.

    Also, how strong in dbm should the cell signal be under a tower? I ask because I consistently get -49 to -54dbm in one of my classrooms on campus, and I was thinking maybe there could be a tower really close by, as I've never seen signal that strong anywhere else or on any other providers anywhere. Under that tower a few weeks ago I'd always have 4bars and get 1-2mbps in the middle of the day. I still always have full bars there, but even on monday when ping went to hell 500-1300ms and speeds were the worst ever, that room still was just as affected as other areas.

    I know some people who I think have verizon smartphones, at least one who has a droid 2 global, would be good for comparison, though I'm not sure I want to invite that particular person over. Anyway, my family all have dumb phones, my mom and dad's flip phones would never have issues in my room, I hear dumbphones do base signal strength entirely on dbm, so they should just show 4 bars in my room.

    Either way I am dealing with finals then leaving friday morning after my last final, but maybe if there is a tower on campus I could spend some time looking for it.

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    Okay, well my cell service officially died last night, data was running at less than dial up speeds, phone was jumping between 1x and 3g and full and no signal, froze a few times, I tried sbfing it back to stock and now it can't activate on verizon's network, it keeps trying, and the activate call goes through, but it just keeps saying it failed. I have 2g reception showing up, but I think either my phone is fried, or the network just outright died. Someone in MA seems to be having network issues too.

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