At&t shutdown 2G, now I don't have 3G
January 9, 2017 10:13 AM   Subscribe

I get my cell service from Consumer Cellular (which uses AT&T cell towers), reception at home has always been spotty, but OK. As of last week I now get absolutely nothing at home (even after 3 days no texts got through), Consumer Cellular says this is because of the 2G shutdown (we have 3G/4G capable phones). AT&T says we should have plenty of 3G reception, but won't do anything about it because we are not directly their customers.

Consumer cellular says that a femtocell won't work for us because our phones (Moto G LTE) aren't capable of wi-fi calling (they are android smart phones). Do we have any options? Like:
1. the cell "booster" devices (zBoost) that only cover a few rooms in a house. (We get coverage a few hundred yards up the hill, an antenna up high should get something).
2. redirecting our cell phones to our land line while at home.
3. is there any way to check text messages via wi-fi?
posted by 445supermag to Technology (8 answers total)
Femtocells do not require your phone to support wi-fi calling.

A femtocell works by using your Internet connection to connect into your phone company's network, then it broadcasts an actual cellular signal which can be used by cell phones, no wi-fi involved.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 10:20 AM on January 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would be asking Consumer Cellular what they plan to do to resolve the issue before you have to find another provider. (Given their claim that your phone won't work with a femtocell because it doesn't support wi-fi calling, I'd probably look at a new provider anyways.)

#2 might be possible - you'd want to look for something in settings that offers to transfer a call instead of sending it to voicemail when you don't pick up.

#2 and #3 would be covered by porting your cell phone # to Google Voice. That's not a quick solution, and depending on how you believe the rumors, GVoice might not be around as a long-term option.
posted by neilbert at 10:31 AM on January 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Given that your phones support 3G and LTE, it sounds like Consumer Cellular needs to fix something on their end to let you access the newer networks.

However, you do want to check that your phones aren't set to 2G/GSM only mode in the network settings. Go to Settings->More->Cellular Network and make sure preferred network type is either 3G or LTE. If you have the option to select a particular network, make sure it is set to auto.
posted by wierdo at 10:42 AM on January 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

I should have mentioned my coverage at home kinda sucks with at&t also, but I always get at least 3G even when LTE is having a bad day. at&t probably had 2G on the 850 band, so having shut it off will shortly be putting that spectrum to use with LTE, so you should eventually get similar coverage as what you had before just with the better tech. It might take a few weeks, though.

And it is true that some femtocell devices use WiFi rather than a 3G/4G signal. It may be that at&t doesn't allow their resellers to use the "real" non-WiFi type, in which case CC is giving you good information from their perspective.
posted by wierdo at 10:49 AM on January 9, 2017

We have Verizon wireless phones, and I need one picocell for the newer phones on LTE, and another for an older phone (iPhone 5, maybe?) on 3G. That's half my damn wired Ethernet ports, thanks to their lousy coverage!
posted by wenestvedt at 10:56 AM on January 9, 2017

CC says we should get texts over wifi (as does the page for android messenger), but its a no go. Thinking about trying another messaging app?
posted by 445supermag at 11:53 AM on January 9, 2017

I would probably be looking at coverage maps and see if someone else has better coverage for your home. Contrary to wenestvedt's experience, in places where I've lived Verizon has had LTE coverage where other providers have zilch. But, obviously that's a matter of geography -- other providers might be better in other areas. Even if you're in contract, there's got to be a way to argue yourself out of it by escalating up the management structure if you are literally unable to use the service you're paying for in your own home! If the problem is something with Consumer Cellular, maybe it even makes sense to just switch to getting your service from AT&T directly -- you might try to find a friend with regular AT&T to come out and see if they are getting better service than you.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:10 PM on January 9, 2017

CC says we should get texts over wifi

Texts over wifi *do* normally require the phone to have wifi calling enabled.

(Verizon is one exception to this; they have an app you can use to send and receive texts over wifi even on phones which don't support wifi calling. But I'm not aware of any other US carriers who have a system like this.)
posted by Juffo-Wup at 12:55 PM on January 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

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