Cell phone trouble
February 9, 2009 7:40 AM   Subscribe

Frequently, when people call my cell phone, I hear it ring at my end but they don't at their end. There's just... nothing. This has been going on for about the last month, and I'd say it happens on about 1/3 of the calls to my phone. Is the problem with my phone or with my service provider?

It's a Motorola W490 and I use T-Mobile, if that makes a difference. I think the phone is about a year old.
posted by amro to Technology (9 answers total)
Just to be clear, the noise that people who are calling you hear has nothing to do with the telephone device in either your pocket or their hand. If callers don't hear a ring indicator, that's entirely everything to do with the infrastructure and nothing to do with the thing you're holding.
posted by majick at 7:53 AM on February 9, 2009

That's what I would have thought, but I have been getting conflicting advice from people IRL. So, I suppose I should contact T-Mobile.
posted by amro at 8:06 AM on February 9, 2009

Did you ever have t-mobile's ringback service? It sounds like a ringback issue. Regardless, you should talk to your provider, although the problem could be with your friend's provider.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:11 AM on February 9, 2009

No ringback. And it's multiple callers who are encountering this problem.
posted by amro at 8:16 AM on February 9, 2009

Ringback is actually just a comfort thing that phone companies use. It's not strictly necessary to set up or complete a call.

It sounds like your phone is detecting the call setup message from the carrier, but the acknowledgment from the carrier back to the caller's carrier (which could be various carriers, traversing a number of links) isn't getting through all the time.

It could be a Tmo problem or a combination of things. Point being a) there's not much you can do about it and b) unless it's a really widespread, annoying issue with lots of vocal complaints, the carriers are unlikely to do much about it, either. Signaling messages get lost sometimes, equipment doesn't always synch like its supposed to.
posted by Thistledown at 8:58 AM on February 9, 2009

This actually happens to me too, on a Samsung phone with Sprint.

"Why didn't you answer your phone?"
"It didn't ring."
"I called you."

So this isn't just you. I don't know what it is either, though.
posted by Night_owl at 9:25 AM on February 9, 2009

No idea what's causing it, but it's definitely not just you. I had the same problem with my T-mobile phone. I would get voicemail all the time, with no indication that anyone had ever called the phone. No ring, nothing in the call history, nada.
posted by tomatofruit at 9:53 AM on February 9, 2009

I get this calling a friend's phone (I think she's using T-Mobile, but I'm not sure). She does have a ringback set up, but usually it takes several seconds before I hear it; in that time, I get either complete silence or, less frequently,it rings.
posted by Cricket at 10:15 AM on February 9, 2009

"Why didn't you answer your phone?"
"It didn't ring."
"I called you."

This problem is the opposite. The phone rings, but the caller doesn't hear the ring on their phone.

I'm almost sure other posters are right, your phone doesn't generate the ringing noise callers hear on their phone. But I do believe that the cellular carrier does generate it. I've had occasion where I'm calling from a land-line to a cell, and get a nice clear first ring. Then the next ring(s) are fuzzier. What I suspect is happening is that the call is "connected" to the cellular service at that point, and they are generating the ring noise until the cell customer answers the phone. I think I'm right, because that's how the "listen to a song while you wait for the person to pick up" service works.

Probably what's wrong is that there is a ringtone generator in your cell provider's network somewhere that's not functioning.
posted by gjc at 5:41 PM on February 9, 2009

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