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Case Study: The Disappearing Data of T-Mobile

NOTE: The problem has repeated itself. So this doubles as an off the cuff case study in level 1 troubleshooting, looking at data, comparing information at different locations. 

Also - I wrote it, and I'm not wasting my time by not publishing it.

 I have the Samsung Galaxy A12, and the service through T-Mobile is pretty good.

While the infrastructure around our nation is fair at best, it's showing it's age and weakness in storms - and that may apply to private towers owned by T-Mobile as well.

 I turn on data, and either:

  • It works
  • The symbol in the upper right does not show up and it's not working.
  • The symbol shows up and the data still doesn't work.


'you're offline' youtube message


Here's a demo; Other videos are available upon request.

Now, there is a setting where I can change the mobile band (2G/3G, 3G/4G) my phone uses, something I was unaware of until a cool Twitter user let me know. This alleviates the problem sometimes, but if I go hours without using data, the problem returns. 

Could your area not have 5G availability during peak hours?

It's possible. However, it also struggles when I've switched to more common bands. It's also all but assured that my area has outdated infrastructure, to match the outdated .... everything else.

It stops working in a popular tourist spot. What if someone who is visiting gets into trouble and needs to contact someone? They better know how to use Wi-Fi calling, or go with another provider.

Does This Happen With Other Phones?

There are 3 phones in my household - One drops calls at a specific spot in the city. The other sometimes has a problem where it's not receiving calls. Mine is the newest phone (Though not a flagship), and seems to have the lack of service problem all over the city.

I had a Google Pixel for a few days before this problem happened in the middle of the city, rendering me unable to call anyone.

I shouldn't have to change my mobile band or phone every time I turn on my data to get it to work temporarily.

So, What's That?

When the issue repeated itself recently, after restarting my phone, I got this notification:

Carrier Hub processing requests

I actually couldn't see what the rest of the word was. Prolapsing? Protecting? Probably processing. There may possibly be a backlog of requests from multiple users, but shouldn't one of the biggest telecom companies in the US be prepared for this?

My Approach to Ensuring More Consistent Service in High-Population Areas:

There is a theory that the lampposts hold broadcast and cell service network antennas. I can name only one in the area. Add a few more, or install some omni-directional antennas on rooftops.

Who Will Be Paying For This? AKA: Stakeholder Buy-In

Consider the businesses that have online coupons - Bath and Body Works, Zoe's Kitchen, Aeropostale, Hot Topic, Old Navy, etc. If the customer can't use data to get a coupon, they may walk out without buying anything. Installing these antennas is an investment into future sales, so the data is easily useable for special deals. Consider collaborate with the telecom company to split the cost.


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