Wednesday, October 05, 2005

How to tell when its your problem or the wireless company's

So, post two. Still no viewers except my daughter, but have to start small I guess.

This post will talk about the issue of poor performance. In wireless there are several things that can, and usually do, go wrong in serving customers. Here we will be talking about how to determine when it is a network issue, or one of your own doing - or undoing.

First, every network is designed to handle only so many of the total calls. This is usually called the Grade of Service (GoS), and typically is 98% in the wireless portion of the network and 99.9% of calls in the switch. The switch is the piece that connects your wireless call to the local and long distance phone companies plus other wireless carriers. So sometimes your calls are "designed" to be blocked. Why? Well, it comes down to cost per Erlang. Oh lord, now what is an Erlang????? That is the magic juice that flows in a wireless company. An Erlang is a ratio of something. In this case calls volume per hour of a circuit. This is like the dB value on your stereo from the 80-90's, it means something to someone, just not to the user.

A wireless network is nothing more than a wired one, just like your home phone, except the line from the telecom company to your device is a radio link and not a cable buried in your back yard. Each circuit costs them money and they hope that they get enough users to make money over their costs - most don't by the way, another posting another time. Each circuit can handle so many users, and when that usage is exceeded, you get blocked calls, dropped calls and in some cases no service today where you did yesterday. So how can I tell when it is the network?

  1. Drop/Block happens same spot all the time
  2. Call drops and when you look at the phone it shows no service, then jumps to max signal (bars)
  3. Call blocks immediately after dialing repeatedly versus sitting there in calling state for 10-15 seconds
  4. Voicemails pop up with no incoming call, or voicemail comes hours later
These are all typically caused by poor network capacity and/or coverage. These are the ones you should call in about, sit on hold and then try to get some credit. I found this link that has good info on how to get credits:

So then how do you know when it might be the fact that your dog tried to eat your phone, you accidentally pored a pint of the local brew on it, or it did a tumble off a balcony at some hotel bash? These typically show signs you might need to either use your insurance, or look on eBay for a replacement:

  1. Phone has problems everywhere
  2. Other friends/family can make calls on the same wireless system while you cannot
  3. Phone likes to power off
  4. Under your battery, the little red check boxes are now solid red - Water test strip that tells no lies
  5. While running on battery - only last about one year, then need to be replaced - the phone is horrible, but plugged in is fine
  6. Phone power cycles on its own
  7. It gets really really hot
  8. You couldn't figure out where to put those couple of extra screws after trying to change the faceplate with some cheap one bought at the mall
Note, don't buy those magic antenna boosters. They are basically $10 pieces of tin foil that don't do anything. If they did, the carriers would use them and sell them as then they would get better performance and have to spend less money. If you would make money twice, don't you think you would do that????

Hope this helps. Again, any questions or suggestions just drop a line.



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