How I Fixed the 3G Issue on My Nexus One

49 Comments

To say I’m happy with my Nexus One (s goog) so far would be an understatement. It’s not perfect, but there’s quite a bit to like — enough that I haven’t powered up my iPhone 3GS (s aapl) in nearly 10 days. But one of the biggest frustrations is the sporadic 3G issue that many folks are experiencing. Here at my home office, I’m on the fringe of T-Mobile’s 3G coverage area. Yet, when I test the exact same SIM card here in the old G1 handset, I get full 3G speeds. With the Nexus One, I’m stuck on lowly EDGE service, even though I have the same four bars and signal strength. Clearly, there’s a software issue that’s causing the Nexus One to not “see” the 3G network.

I just did some quick poking around on the handset and made one very small manual adjustment. Guess what — I now have full 3G speeds at this location on my Nexus One!

I have no idea if this will work for other Nexus One owners that are in a 3G coverage area and stuck on EDGE, but here’s all I did.

In “Settings,” I went to “Wireless & networks.” Look for the “Mobile Networks” option at the bottom of this listing. The next screen has a “Network Operators” section — tap it. Your Nexus One will search for compatible GSM networks in the area. Once it’s complete, you’ll see the choices, which will consist of T-Mobile and/or AT&T. You’ll also see a choice to Select Automatically — tap it and your phone should say “Registered on network.” That’s it. That’s all I did and I immediately saw the phone jump from EDGE to T-Mobile’s fast 3G network.

Again, I don’t know if this will work for everyone, but it can’t be a fluke. I’ve had the phone for nearly a week-and-a-half and it hasn’t seen the 3G network once while here at home. Now it does all the time, even after a reboot, so it looks like my particular issue is resolved! Perhaps there’s something in this Android build that doesn’t correctly register the phone on T-Mobile’s network by default? I still anticipate a software fix for everyone, but for now my Nexus One is speeding along quite nicely on mobile broadband.

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Google’s Mobile Strategy: Understanding the Nexus One

49 Comments

OSCAR

I GOT 245.5 KB/S DOWNLOAD AND 44.9 KB/S UPLOAD WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

gemste

Works for me 90% of the time now. Thanks!

I’m in East Los Angeles btw.

Andy

My test was done here in Taiwan on Taiwan Telecom’s network. No AT&T and no T-Mobile..

Darshan

This did not work for me as stated …..

My original problem was the same : 3G to Edge to 3G as many have stated.

HOWEVER, comparing the nexus one settings to my HTC MyTouch settings, I found one small difference, and making the following change seems to have made a difference for me:

Menu –> Settings –> Wireless & Networks –>
Mobile Networks –> Access Point Names –> TMobile US –>
Authentication type –> Then select “None” (was not set explicitly by default)

I will keep a close eye on this (has been good for the last day or so every chance I got to check) and will keep everyone here posted on new findings

Hope this is helpful!

Joe Open Source

Hey Kevin,

You do know that Philadelphia is one of perhaps 3 cities where T-Mobile is testing 7.2?

Another thing is that this fix is what HTC told me to do the 2nd day after the phone came out, did not work.

There is a huge problem with the Nexus, after 2 Nexus phones in solid 3G both rarely went over 500 kbs . I purchased a T-Mobile 3G flip phone exact same location tethered and using a reference server and measured both …the flip is 3 times faster at 1.5 Mbs.

Sorry folks I would return you Nexus as fast you can and wait for a better design and or network.

Kevin is lucky because when I think of it he lives in the only city in the country where the 7.2 infrastructure is complete, perhaps in late summer or longer the rest of the country may have the same.

At any rate I got sick of the charades and sent both back … I’ll wait for the Moto shadow and or Sony

Richard Garrett

Kevin I’m a Verizon customer and am limited to them since here in my corner of Wyoming that is the best network. So for now, I’m trying to decide between either the Motorola or Eris Droid. I think you and/or James have used the three Google leaders (both Droids and the Nexus). Recognizing that everyone’s needs are different, is there a substantive reason to pick one over the other right now (while at the same time trying to look 12 months into the future). I like reliability, email, ease of use, speed in that order; I am migrating from a Treo 700p and frankly think that there is still a lot to like about it. FYI, I am currently trying out the Moto Droid and am not convinced that the physical keyboard is worth the cost. Thanks!

Kevin C. Tofel

Richard, I can only offer my opinion, which is based on my likes and dislikes. Personally, I prefer the Eris over the Droid as I’d rather use a software keyboard. It can be used in either portrait or landscape and the word suggestion feature in Android is quite good.

However – if you’re on Verizon and are leaning *away* from the Droid, could you wait for the Nexus One, which is due on Verizon this spring? Aside from the nagging 3G issue, which I expect is specific to GSM, I’ve found the device to be rock solid. You’d get a similar form factor to the Eris but with the added benefit of the much faster processor, i.e.: why buy “last year’s CPU” with the Eris if you can get a better one in the N1? That’s not a knock against the Eris in any way, just trying to offer a different perspective. Any chance you can find someone with a Nexus One to look at?

Toadstool42

This “fix” is being reposted all over the web and it doesn’t work for the vast majority of people who try it… it certainly has not changed the behavior of my phone one bit. I wish it worked, but it doesn’t.

wrk3

A question I have is whether the phone will switch carriers in automatic? If I’m on the fringe for T-Mobile, but in a strong area for AT&T, will the phone switch to AT&T rather than use T-Mobile? Could this cause roaming charges?

Kevin C. Tofel

In terms of roaming charges for voice, the answer could vary based on location. I remember that a few years back T-Mobile and AT&T had signed roaming agreements, but based on this T-Mo forum, that appears to changing based on T-Mobile’s coverage: http://forums.t-mobile.com/t5/Coverage/T-Mobile-and-AT-amp-T-roaming-agreement/m-p/132907 AFAIK for data, you can roam on AT&T’s EDGE network.

Your best bet is to check with T-Mobile directly and/or verify your locations on their coverage maps to avoid any potential roaming fees: http://coverage.t-mobile.com/

Patrick-in-Chicago

My average speeds are also in the 500Kbps-900Kbps range, rather than the 1.5Mbps-2.5Mbps range. I have clocked 1.6Mbps 3 times in different places in the city (Chicago), out of maybe 250 measurements.
Would be nice if google created a speedtest app themselves which uploads speeds *and* GPS coordinates to a Google database, so they can present a map of realistic speed expectations. Customer satisfaction is all about expectations management, you know.

Patrick
Chicago, IL 60657 (Lakeview)

Wayne Schulz

I tried the trick this morning sitting in my car with my T-Mo BlackBerry 9700 sitting beside me reporting 3G speeds.

My Nexus One stayed on the Big E.

I’m wondering if part of the problem isn’t fringe signals – either too little or too much.

This past weekend in NYC on the 20th floor of the Grand Hyatt I was fluctuating between 26 K and 1 M ..

When connected to T-Mobile 3G I’ve also had a lot of trouble getting speeds much past 600k. Standing in the middle of Time Square I think I was just about able to hit 1 M while my iPhone and Droid were both easily into 2 M territory.

Ben

wow, my 3g speed according to speedtest.net is 100kbps and thats that i live in chicago. what gives?

Garry

From downtown Atlanta GA. my 3g speed as reported by the speedtest.net (Market app Thanks Kevin) 2032kbps/385kbps
Very decent!

Scotty

Kevin,

I did the secret menu to set my Nexus One to only use North American frequencies and not only did it cure the 3G/Edge fandango I got better battery life as well (end of the work day I was seeing 32% now I’m getting 47% left).

I also have two 3G bars at my desk and speedtest.net (yes I installed the potential spyware) gets: 1871/382

Dialing *#*#4636#*#* gets you the secret menu.

Kevin C. Tofel

Scotty, a few days ago I had tried the menu you pointed out, but the downside was that in a non-3G area, I think you get no data at all. Could be a workable solution for some, but thought to point that out. Thanks!

Scotty

Kevin, you still get Edge.

On the bus ride home I’m crossing in and out of T-Mobile 3G coverage into T-Mobile Edge coverage. The advantages to restricting the frequencies is that it hops directly from no-3G over to Edge instead of trying to hunt down 3G on the other frequencies first before going to Edge. Plus when it’s in Edge mode it also only checks 2 of the 4 frequencies.

This sharpens the phone’s focus when operating in marginal signal areas.

The change you mention above has the side effect that when you’re out of T-Mobile coverage (like when I’m at home) you get a permanent ! inside a triangle in the notification bar on your Nexus One saying “No Service Selected service T-Mobile is not available”.

When I got home I ran speedtest.net from the Nexus One over 802.11g on my 50Mbps Comcast network and got 5421/2187. It’s possible this phone can’t saturate 7.2Mbps 3G…

Kevin C. Tofel

Good to know Scotty, thanks. That wasn’t my experience, but I didn’t leave the setting on for very long. I’ll take another look if I “lose” my 3G functionality again. :)

paulied1

Funny thing here, when I follow your procedure I only get T-Mobile as my network provider..no AT&T here, I did the automatic thing anyway but it won’t make any difference for me. Just wondering if anyone else gets T-Mo as their only provider.

Shane

I had a similar problem on my Droid. I changed the wireless settings from “Automatic” to “Home” and I haven’t seen any more problems.

Puh-Lease

It must be great to have a Nexus One. Why you can install at least 3 or 4 apps until you run out of room.

No multi-touch to bother with.

You don’t have to use it outside since you can’t see the screen anyway.

Plus all the little hardware and OS issues that are a result of using Googles latest beta OS.

But at least you get that Google ad money by acting like its actually a super phone instead of another warmed over iPhone imitation.

DZ

What’s up with all the hate? I’m a happy 3GS owner but can appreciate the Nexus One, aside from these network issues and multi-touch. Of course, multi-touch is possible but I wonder if Google or HTC is afraid of an Apple legal smackdown.

Puh-thetic

Someone’s clearly upset about something. But I just got to say:

The single and only reason why I have never bought an iPhone is because of people like you who make the phone the cornerstone of their life, and defend it pro-actively with all the sheepishness of the masses that are too stupid to resist Apple’s incredible marketing machine. Thus turning it’s hype into their own personal cause – not too far short of a young religion. It’s so utterly pathetic and sad I simply don’t want to be seen with one in my hand as I am not alone. Hell, comedians have made a mockery of it for a while now. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZGIn9bpALo&feature=related

These people here are talking about ways to fix a specific problem on a specific device. Never the merits, pros and cons of either this phone or any other. Now, take a look at your random post in comparison to that, and maybe you will see it might be time to unplug, take a walk, get a life. Something.

Good luck with that.

Puh-thetic Irony

“Now keep it friendly or go away”

One full stop from “You chose an apt name”?

Easy now. Hardly drinking your own cool aid there. Not incredibly mature either.

RF9

Not all of us iPhone users are like that. I’m no blind faith follower of Apple and I’m not a sheep. I have my harsh criticisms against Apple and iPhone personally dislike Apple more than I like it. I’ve had almost every smart phone type and I choose the iPhone for what it is. It just does the things I care about better than the others.
These douchebags give all of us a bad name.
I’m just sayin’, I’m man enough to stand on my own two feet choose products I want without the insecurity of being stereotyped.
If you ever wanted an iPhone, you should have got one and not let morons like that dictate your game.
This article isn’t about the iPhone. It’s about Android so I’m sorry for perpetuating off topic.

On topic, I’m glad there is a fix. It does seem to make sense why this could overcome the bug.

Peter

Do you research puh-lease… ;)

It does have multi-touch support. Research it.

The screen is by far one of the best hardware features of the phone. Better than any iphone’s.

This 3g issue is pretty much the only issue so far which is pretty decent if you think of this as a 1st gen release, which it is. People compare this to the current Iphone 3gs which is a 3rd generation phone. If you go back and look at the whole slew of issues that surrounded the 1st iphone, this is minor in comparison.

Scott

As a previous iPhone user I can say I love my N1. No issues with mine in Orlando. You are wrong on several counts. The N1 does have multi-touch, using XScope right now to reply to you. It also has pin-zoom, yes you can zoom with one finger. My screen is as viewable in the sun as my iPhone was. Go back to your iPhone, even though you secretly know you want a N1, that is why you are reading things about it.

Garry

How did you get speedtest.net on the Nexus One without the latest ver. of Flash?

Scotty

Kevin,

Did you notice that app lists:

Phone calls
read phone state and identity

Why does Speedtest need to be able to access that information??? Spyware apps in the Android Market, it’s becoming an issue.

Bentley Rothschild

Nice Fix, good to see the Google Phone is back in the fast lane.

My guess is now it will be very hard to slow that beast down.

Maybe Android 3.0 will feature speed-doubling technology ! Nothing will slow Google down i tell you, now get outa my way slowpokes.

Matthew Miller

Kevin, I just followed your directions and while I am not in an area at the moment where I was experiencing major problems I did indeed see the 3G signal bars jump from 2 to 4 and stay at 4 for the last half hour or so. You may be onto something here. I plan to test it out more in other areas where I have had some hopping between 3G, EDGE, and nothing lately.

Ray Goldenberg

Kevin, is the photo above your “fast” 3G connection speed?

Kevin C. Tofel

It is the 3G speeds in my home office, which is on the fringe of T-Mobile’s coverage. When I tested the N1 at Philadelphia International Airport, I saw download speeds of 2.1 Mbps. It all depends on where you are in the network…

Ray Goldenberg

I was curiouse as it is faster than my 3G on my Iphone at home

Geoff

I have not seen any speeds past 900kbps no matter where I am on the 3G network. I believe the 7.2Mb upgrade was a hoax. Only completed is some cities if even that. When you checked at the airport are you sure you weren’t on WIFI?

Kevin C. Tofel

Geoff, I was on the tarmac as the plane had literally just landed from CES. No Wi-Fi for sure. We weren’t even close to the gate.

Jake

Oh Kevin, you’re such a geek. How many other people do you think were standing on the tarmac running internet speed tests :)

Jeremiah Owen

Trying it on mine and I will post my findings after using it for the day, hope it resolves it, if so YOU ARE THE MAN!

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