For those with a VZW 3G Network Extender

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by avanpelt, Sep 23, 2012.

  1. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2010
    #1
    Just wanted to post my experiences with the VZW iPhone 5 when it's used with a VZW 3G network extender. In short, the iPhone 5 behaves the way I want it to when the network extender is in range.

    My house has lousy VZW coverage indoors and I work from home, so a network extender is essential. When I'm indoors and not on a call, the phone shows two bars of LTE coverage.

    As soon as I make a call, I hear the two beeps signifying that the call is routing through the network extender and the signal strength changes to five bars within 2 or 3 seconds. As soon as I hang up the call, the phone goes back to showing two bars of LTE coverage.

    I hope this information is helpful for those who were wondering how the iPhone 5 behaves in the presence of the Verizon 3G network extender. I was concerned that I would have to manually switch the LTE radio off on the iPhone 5 when at home to force the iPhone 5 to pick up my 3G network extender, but that is not the case.
     
  2. macrumors 6502a

    christophermdia

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    #2
    Thanks for your post, this is helpful as I get 1 bar LTE, but am dropping calls.....can you pick up an extender in store? Might have to run by there tomorrow if so....
     
  3. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2011
    #3
    I have to turn LTE off when I am home to use mine. The iPhone 5 switches between LTE & 3G in my home. Also, if I leave LTE on when I place or receive calls within 10-15 seconds the call will go silent but not drop. I was told the iPhone 5 is not compatible with the network extender and that a software patch was in the works to correct the silent call issue. I did use to have my LTE on and everything worked ok.

    However, Verizon does seem to have improved signal somewhat. Without the network extender I use to get 1 bar of signal but now I get 3 bars -89 to -91 signal. It will drop the call if I am close to a certain window in my home.

    ----------

    You can pick one up in store or via phone. Via phone they sometimes have "Certified Preowned" and it is $99 and still includes 1 year warranty.

    I was able to get mine free but it took several weeks of working with technical support for them to verify that I get a poor signal outside.
     
  4. macrumors 68040

    AutoUnion39

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    #4
    I have a AT&T MicroCell at work because zero phones work inside the area where my offices are. I sometimes get a bar of LTE. That's about it. It always prefers the MicroCell though, since the signal is much stronger
     
  5. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2011
    #5
    My iPhone 5 on the AT&T MicroCell will also prefer the MicroCell signal over 1-2 bars of LTE. Odds are if you have poor reception on 4G HSPA + the LTE signal will be weak as well. However, I believe the iPhone 5 treats the MicroCell as a separate network hence the AT&T M-CELL alpha tag displayed on phone.

    With the Verizon Network Extender the alpha tag still displays "Verizon" when registered on Network Extender. Also, the VZW iPhone 5 seems to prefer to standby on LTE even if the LTE signal is weaker then the 3G EVDO signal. Often times if you turn off LTE you will see much stronger signal on 3G. Also, on the VZW iPhone 5 it can't do voice & data at the same time so when you are on a voice call it switches over to CDMA 1X network.

    So usually if LTE is left on iPhone 5 VZW it will have 2 bars of LTE then when I answer or place a call the signal will jump to full signal on network extender I will hear two short beeps letting me know I am on network extender. If I turn LTE off the iPhone 5 will give me a full 3G EVDO signal. If LTE is on since the LTE signal in my house is marginal it will display 2 bars LTE then full bars 3G EVDO due to network extender then switch back to LTE 2 bar signal.

    Even though AT&T MicroCell and Verizon Network Extender are femtocells the iPhone 5 behaves differently depending on which network's femtocell it is connected to.
     
  6. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2012
    #6
    Even though a different alpha tag is being displayed when you are connected to the AT&T microcell, there is more going on than the phone simply thinking that it's connected to a different network...otherwise the phone would not be able to handoff to a tower when you left the range of the MicroCell during a phone call...such as when you walk outside while talking.

    For example, if you were roaming on a a partner network while making a phone call, the phone would drop the call rather than switch back to AT&T if you were moving.
     
  7. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2011
    #7
    I have disabled the auto handout feature on my MicroCell. My MicroCell won't handoff calls to the macrocell so I have to be within range of microcell or instant drop. When I go into field test it does not show any neighboring cells but if I enable the auto handout feature it does list the neighboring cells.
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2012
    #8
    I have a question for those using the Verizon Network Extender. My understanding from reading Verizon's Web site is that anyone with a cell phone on Verizon's network can access your network extender.

    You can set you cell phone numbers to have "priority". But you ca't stop anyone with a Verizon cell phone from making a call if they are in range.

    Can anyone with a Verizon Network extender verify this?

    If this is true, it is a non-starter for me. I can't stand the idea of subsidizing Verizon's Network using my Internet connection.
     
  9. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2012
    #9
    It's true, so if that's a nonstarter for you, then you are out of luck.
     
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2012
    #10
    So then Verizon is basically charging you for the privilege of turning your broadband connection into a cell site, correct?
     
  11. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2011
    #11
    Charging you to access their network via the internet. Not any different than SKYPE, or any other paid service using the internet.
     
  12. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2012
    #12
    Right or wrong...that's the way it works. Take it or leave it.
     
  13. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2011
    #13
    I believe to initially register with the network extender the phone has to be within 15 feet of the network extender. Also, if there is cell tower signal outside then the phone would use the cell network and not network extender.
     
  14. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #14
    Yeah, we had to bite the bullet and get the AT&T Microcell a while back, as service here is pretty bad in the summer. The Microcell has gotten a lot better since we got it (software updates pushed to it). It used to introduce a lot of extra latency and go down all the time, both problems have been eliminated for the most part.

    All that being said, in my experience with Verizon's 850 CDMA/1x network, 2 bars is more than enough to have a reliable call experience... not so much on AT&T where 2 bars is right on the borderline, depending on the area. If it's a building issue, 1 seems to be fine to talk on the phone, but if it's a more suburban/rural area, even 2 is iffy. Verizon's aging CDMA network does take the cake for weak signal performance.
     
  15. macrumors 68040

    AutoUnion39

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    #15
    I wonder when AT&T (and VZW) will come out with a new 3G/LTE microcell. Would be pretty awesome to have. Of course, having an LTE femtocell is useless when your internet feeding it is slow, but some of us do have good connections. (50/5 for $49.99 here in Boston) :)
     
  16. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2012
    #16
    Since u have such fast Internet, why not use wifi?
     
  17. macrumors 68040

    AutoUnion39

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    #17
    You can't make native calls over wifi... iOS doesn't support wifi calling, like some T-Mobile phones do.

    Plus if you live in fringe coverage area, a femtocell is pretty much needed.
     
  18. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2012
    #18
    But you don't need an LTE extender to make those calls.
     
  19. macrumors 68040

    AutoUnion39

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    #19
    fair enough, but I'm trying to look into the future when VoLTE has been implemented. :)
     
  20. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago
    #20
    Just adding my experience. I have a 4S and a 5. The verizon network extender helps boost voice reception. On verizon, voice and 3g/LTE data are separate so will you may have 3 or 4 bars of voice, it will not bump you from 3g to LTE. However, if most people are within range of their extender, then they USUAL are in range of their wifi.

    One interesting thing is that the 4S will show 5 bars but my 5 will show 2 or 3 bars until it is on a call, then it will show 5 bars and have the two beeps to say that it is on the extender.

    As far as becoming a network node for verizon it is what it is. You have to decide if living with a bad signal, dropped calls, etc is worth others potentially jumping on. I live in a high rise and don't care, I like having perfect coverage.
     
  21. thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2010
    #21
    I'm seeing the same behavior with my 5.

    It appears to be because when your 5 is not on a call, LTE is enabled, and you're in an LTE area, the phone defaults to LTE when not on a call. I get 1-2 bars of LTE at my home. When I place or receive a call (whether at home or not) the 5 falls back to 3G for voice -- which, in my home, is full signal because of the 3G network extender.
     
  22. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #22
    Correct. There is no reason to have anything more than CDMA/EVDO or UMTS 3.6, as it's just for calls, text, and MMS. Everything else just goes over wifi. My iPhone has about 24/3.5 at home (counting PowerBoost), and usually has 3-5 bars off of the Microcell.

    Really, they should all support calls over wifi, but they don't... Once VoLTE comes around, and everything is IP, then they really have no excuse but to run calls over wifi as well, which, assuming there is a wide variety of phones that support it, will obsolete the Microcell and Network Extender for the most part.

    Isn't there a way to lock it down? On the AT&T side, you can't have it wide open, it only works with it's own whitelist.
     
  23. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2012
    #23
    Nope. No way to lock it down. You can set your phones to have priority though.
     
  24. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago
    #24
    There is no way to lock it down. As JT said, you can only manage to give you/your family/friends number priorities. The extender can handle up to 50 callers, so it would be difficult to max it out in any sort of residential setting.
     
  25. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #25
    WOW. 50? That's a LOT. Seems like a residential broadband connection couldn't handle that many. All that being said, since it tunnels back to Verizon, I don't see any downside to having it open. If they're downloading something illegal through it, it would still get traced to them through Verizon.
     

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