My phone does not like my workplace. Or vice versa.Support

  1. blastoff99

    blastoff99 Well-Known Member

    Hello all. I am one of those leeches who show up here whenever they have a question or crisis and then vanish without adding anything positive or useful to general discussion. I have a crisis. Here I am. Feel free to ignore, or help, or help while berating me for being a leech.

    My Galaxy S3 (Verizon) and my workplace do not get along. I was pretty early with the S3, and began my job in June of 2014. By then, my phone was well-acquainted with that building, as I had been a regular volunteer there since before I got the phone. I was able to do all things phone and smartphone from most places in this steel-with-concrete-floors building at first, but by the time I started my job, things were definitely boggy. Getting on employee rather than public WiFi helped but not much.

    Long about late July (I think) cell coverage got terrible. I went from a few dead zones to the whole building being a dead zone. Standing in formerly perfect locations now throws my phone into and out of roaming, or I get 'no network' unless I walk all the way outside and stay there to make a call. The IT guy and I have had conversations about this, and he assures me that we have VZ network extenders and that nobody else is having this problem.

    I hope they aren't. I worked on Christmas Eve. I got there at 10:00 a.m. and turned my phone off at 6:30 p.m. My phone was in my pocket the entire time except for two texts from the boss. Bluetooth was off. Location was off. There were no apps running. I walked in with battery at 94%. I turned the phone off because it was at 17%.

    This is typical. But it happens only in that building. Nowhere else. Ever. I've done all the troubleshooting I know how to do. I've done troubleshooting I didn't know how to do. The list includes:

    Phone off and on
    WiFi off and on
    Forget WiFi and reacquaint with WiFi
    Bluetooth and location off
    New battery (OEM)
    Another new battery (Anker)
    Phone reset
    Take phone out of case
    Take phone out of pocket
    Replace phone WiFi antenna
    Replace phone back housing

    There was probably more. Nothing has helped. It seems like my phone is killing its battery desperately searching for signal - sometimes text messages don't send, sometimes I miss incoming calls but get the voicemails, sometimes I get the VMs a dozen times as I go in and out of roaming, sometimes I can get texts to send by waving the phone and hopping on one foot. I might be joking about that last.

    Other people gripe about the bad reception, but nobody has anything like this degree of battery-killing problem. And it's not 'that address' - it's 'that building.' If I'm outdoors, I'm fine.

    Any ideas? Anything else I should try? I apologize for the long post, but this is nuts. Thanks in advance.

  2. funkylogik

    funkylogik share the love peeps ;) VIP Member

    Are any fellow employees on the same carrier as you having the same problems?
    Could be a new building got built nearby that just happens to block the signal for your workplace?
    You're right about the battery drain being caused by a weak/zero signal. Bet it gets hot in your pocket too?
    codesplice likes this.
  3. blastoff99

    blastoff99 Well-Known Member

    Thanks, funkylogik. Yup, looking at the GSam chart shows it very clearly. I can tell when I was outdoors and when I was in - indoors, signal going straight down and temp going up rapidly.

    No new buildings. We're by ourselves on acreage, and no huge trees have sprung up in the past few months.

    I'm not alone in my complaint by any means, but I am the only one whose problem is this extreme. The IT guy has Verizon as well and he says it all works great for him, therefore it must be my phone. But...!
    codesplice and funkylogik like this.
  4. funkylogik

    funkylogik share the love peeps ;) VIP Member

    Have you tried your sim in his phone or vice versa to narrow down if it's a defective sim?
    codesplice and blastoff99 like this.
  5. blastoff99

    blastoff99 Well-Known Member

    Oooooh. I like that idea. Might be worth a shot. But would my SIM card being defective explain why my phone only does this trick in that building?
    funkylogik likes this.
  6. funkylogik

    funkylogik share the love peeps ;) VIP Member

    Doubt it but it's a start lol :D
  7. svim

    svim Well-Known Member

    Also try using the Open Signal app. It scans for nearby 3G and 4G towers, measures signal strength, and it has an arrow/compass graphic that points toward the best signal. When running the initial test it works better if you have your WiFi and Location enabled so afterwards in one of the tabbed windows there will be a map showing local cell towers and wireless APs.
    It's not going to fix the odd problem of why just your phone is acting up while all your Verizon co-workers are more or less getting good connectivity but at least it'll give some more info in trying to diagnose what's going on.
    funkylogik likes this.
  8. jmatherly411

    jmatherly411 Well-Known Member

    First let start out with the basic fundamentals with wireless technologies 1x RTT, 3G EV-DO/eHRPD, and of course everyone's favorite LTE. As these technologies advance and get faster the signal also becomes more of what we call "fragile," LTE is the most fragile signal to date. Some will say Verizon's LTE is on 700MHz and it should trump their legacy 850/1900MHz 3G EV-DO, a simple answer is no, these two wireless technologies are more robust than LTE. Also not every device's radio is equal, some radios in various devices are more superior than others, so trying to compare an LG phone to a Samsung phone in signal strength is like comparing apples to oranges.

    You stated that you use to be able to get a connection at your workplace with the same device but now you can't get even a voice connection, correct? It's possible Verizon has adjusted the down tilt and panel aiming on the sector that your device connects too, wireless operators are constantly adjusting and optimizing sites.
    codesplice and funkylogik like this.
  9. blastoff99

    blastoff99 Well-Known Member

    Great thoughts, guys.

    I'll give Open Signal a shot. I'm out with an uncommon cold that has knocked me flat for a week, so here's hoping I'm better enough to set foot in the place by tomorrow. Meanwhile I'm enjoying good battery life.

    Thanks for the short course on wireless technology. That helps. However, I am pretty sure we have network extenders (or whatever they're called) actually IN our building - so said the IT guy at one point. Seems like these would solve the problem no matter what?
    funkylogik likes this.
  10. codesplice

    codesplice Elite Recognized Geek Moderator

    It seems like if you did have VZW extenders/repeaters in your building then you wouldn't be having these signal issues. If you can find out from your IT guy where exactly those repeaters may be installed, you could try standing right next to them; you should have full signal there. If not, something's wrong.

    I'm not really S3-savvy, but is there a way to disable LTE to see if that helps any? It could be that the phone is struggling to keep an LTE connection even while there's adequate 3G available.
    Lordvincent 90 and funkylogik like this.
  11. svim

    svim Well-Known Member

    >> but is there a way to disable LTE to see if that helps any? It could be that the phone is struggling to keep an LTE connection even while there's adequate 3G available.

    For 3G only:
    Settings >> More networks >> Mobile networks >> Network mode. The 'Preferred network mode' box will show 'LTE/CDMA' and 'CDMA' selections, the first being LTE/4G/3G and the second 3G. It's enabling a different radio chip so it'll reboot the phone.
    That's a good suggestion as far as a diagnostic step in this case, and if push comes to shove as a stopgap solution running your S3 on just 3G while you're at work isn't that bad for general purpose tasks.
    funkylogik and codesplice like this.
  12. jmatherly411

    jmatherly411 Well-Known Member

    If Verizon has pico cells in your building try putting your phone is just "CDMA Only." This can be found by going to SETTINGS --- MORE NETWORKS --- MOBILE NETWORKS --- NETWORK MODE --- CHOOSE CDMA, Verizon small cells are only 3G CDMA EV-DO and 1x RTT. If you still do not get a signal indoors then your IT guys does not know what he is talking about. I still suspect some type of panel adjustment from the site nearest you, because if LTE isn't available your phone will fall back to CDMA.
    codesplice and funkylogik like this.
  13. blastoff99

    blastoff99 Well-Known Member

    Sweet! Lots of things to try here. I would love to do them, and I will... next week. I was out all week with what they thought was a cold but ended up being a sinus infection plus influenza. At the same time. No wonder I wasn't getting better easily.

    I'll report back when I resurface.
    codesplice and funkylogik like this.
  14. blastoff99

    blastoff99 Well-Known Member

    Ok. I have resurfaced, and wow, did I make interesting observations.

    For starters, the IT guy says we do NOT have any sort of network extender. He misunderstood me the first time. So at least we know that the network extenders we don't have are not causing trouble. ;-)

    I walked in with my phone battery at 94%. I turned location ON and bluetooth OFF and WiFi OFF. I opened OpenSignal, and went to various locations inside and outside the building. In every test, I stood still and held the phone in my hand. As a reminder, my workplace is a large (+/-80,000ft2) two-story steel building with concrete floors. The property is on a steep slope; the downstairs rooms on the east side of the building are totally 'buried.'

    Location A is a large room that is two stories high. It has no windows. The south and east walls are exterior walls. I stood in the middle of this room and got these numbers: latency 83ms / down 1.1Mbps / up 168kbps.

    Location B is just to the north of location A. It is a large open area, also two stories high. Its east and west walls are exterior, although the east wall is half-buried in the hillside. There are windows high up, and the west wall has four sets of glass double doors. Latency 565ms / down nope / up 152kbps. -101dBm. OpenSignal went nuts, telling me I'd lost my signal. Uh, yeah. The location icon was blinking like mad. I turned on WiFi and got 66ms / down 11.1Mbps / up 5.6Mbps.

    Location C is upstairs on the east side of the building. This room has windows along the east wall. Latency 726ms / down nope / up nope.

    By this time I'd been at it almost ten minutes. My battery was down to 81%, and the phone was a nice handwarmer.

    Location D is a room on the second floor and buried about as far 'inside' as it can get. It is a small room with no windows. I got nothin'. Well, I got two messages: 'You've lost your connection,' and 'finding location.'

    Location E is outside the IT guy's office. This is not far from Location D. Latency 369ms / down nope / up 246kbps. 2G.

    Location F is an upstairs room on the west side of the building. I stood by the window and got latency 351ms / down nope / up 305kbps.

    Then I went outside.

    Location G is west of the building, about 60 yards west of Location D. It is a large flat open parking lot. Latency 398ms / down nope / up 188kbps. 2G.

    Location H is west of the building, about 50 yards west of Location B. This is also a large flat open parking lot. Here's where things started to improve: latency 107ms / down 664kbps / up 826kbps. I know, but it's an improvement.

    Location I is east of the building, up the hill, about 30 yards east of Location B. This is a slightly smaller not flat but still open parking lot. It is a bit above the roofline of the building. Latency 123ms / down 1.4Mbps / up 12.5Mbps. I ran this again and got 105 / 6.8 / 17. SEVENTEEN. 4G.

    Location J is simply 40 yards north of Location I. Latency 65ms / down 1.1Mbps / up 11.15.

    Ok, this part is really important: I then went to a local hardware store. This is a large steel building - not Home Depot large, but still probably 30,000ft2. It is two floors. I went downstairs to the center of the building, to the worst place I could think of: the Fasteners department. This is floor-to-ceiling steel cubbies chock-full of nuts and bolts and washers and screws and nails and and and. I was surrounded on three sides, standing in a place where I could touch three walls of fasteners without moving my feet. Guess what? Latency 86ms / down 15.2Mbps / up 2.89Mbps.

    I pondered this as I drove home, and when I got home I called the store and asked the critical question. The IT guy said 'nope, no network extenders or anything of the sort. that's just towers.'

    I am now 100% convinced: my phone is fine. JUST FINE. I am also convinced that my co-workers who claim they get good coverage in the building have strategically-located work locations or are smoking something.

    Tomorrow I'll talk to the business administrator and get his ok to talk to Verizon....
  15. Unforgiven

    Unforgiven ~Shoveling Snow~ Moderator

    What is the age of the buildings? I work with Fire / EMS folks sometimes during the construction and / or renovation of buildings signal boosters are added. It is part of the fire code. I'm not positive on the specifics, both in requirements or capabilities, I only understand it at about 50,000 feet. I live in an area that relies heavily on mutual aid (multiple towns fire departments responding to events) that have multiple licensed frequencies for their communications gear. These boosters would need to work for multiple frequencies. It's possible there are signal boosters installed for public safety and that they may be boosting cell signal too.

    I only come to this assumption as a Home Depot I frequent never had signal inside. A Grocery store was built in the same development and the site developer was required to add a booster for all of the buildings on the site. Once done, my cell signal was far better in the Home Depot, and I had similar coverage in the new grocery store. I don't remember if they did a site wide or in building, IIRC the cost was ~$20,000 per building, so in the context of $8-11 million for a big box store a drop in the bucket.
    blastoff99 likes this.
  16. blastoff99

    blastoff99 Well-Known Member

    Unforgiven, that's verrrrrrry interesting, and that's all I'll say about that.

    The hardware store was built in about the mid-60s. My workplace has been in its present location for about 15 years.

    I was talking to another employee tonight, and he jogged my memory about something. He started there as a volunteer about when I did - 2009ish. He commented that back then he had GREAT coverage, and I remember that my HTC Incredible was, well, incredible also. My S3 did fine too, and then sometime before I got my job, it got boggy and got even MORE boggy by Christmas. This guy has exactly the same experience. I may just be more of a whiny loudmouth than he is.

    So: something has changed. I am NOT the only one, no matter who tries to tell me otherwise. Due to the nature of my job, I walk around inside the building more than ANYONE else who works there. (My Fitbit records about 5,000 steps per hour, and due to the way I have it set to report, that's likely an undercount.)

    Not sure how far I'll get with the business administrator. Since I am the lowest guy on the totem pole, well, likely nobody will care, and the other people with this experience won't be inclined to back me up.
  17. jmatherly411

    jmatherly411 Well-Known Member

    Voice and especially data (EV-DO/eHRPD or LTE) signals will vary greatly depending on the construction of the building. Another thing to consider when you were in the hardware store is that there could have been a cell site much closer to you.

    As you get further away and add obstructions between you and the cell site the path loss increases greatly.
  18. svim

    svim Well-Known Member

    blastoff99 - despite your low 'new guy' status there you do have some pretty impressive documentation collected on this matter. It really is puzzling just why cellular connectivity was OK at one time and then just diminished for whatever reason, especially since you previously mentioned your building's open acreage location and no new recent construction or landscaping that might interfere with Verizon's nearby tower(s). But maybe the base problem could be attributed to some change Verizon made that hurt the coverage of range of your building?
    If you are going to push for the purchase of some cellular extenders, you've already done the tedious part with all your collection of measurements. Placing each extender will need three connections, two physical and one OTA -- a wall wart for power, a wired Ethernet cable, and a good GPS signal. Optimally you'll need to put each extender near a window for the GPS, (unless you buy the ones with external antennas). You might want to install this 'GPS Status & Toolbox' app to supplement your previous measurement table -- it lets you see numerical GPS stats like the ratio of how many satellites your phone is sensing and how many its actually connecting with.
  19. blastoff99

    blastoff99 Well-Known Member

    Thanks, everyone.

    I'm not in a position to push for anything, and I'm going to drop this right here, but I did talk with the business administrator this morning. He listened, but said that HE has no trouble making phone calls or receiving texts from his office, which is along the west side of the building.

    (I could *probably* do the same. But maybe not, and saying 'it depends' would make it sound like I know 'on what,' and I don't have a clue. Even as bad as it is now, I can on occasion make a phone call from Location D. Today I was standing in Location D and my phone told me I had a voicemail. I never know whether to believe this or not, because if I'm in or near Location B, my phone goes in and out of roaming and gets my VM every time it comes back in. So I checked my call log, and no incoming calls. Went out the east doors to check the VM, and sure enough, that VM was connected to a recent call that never showed up on the log.)

    Anyway, the business administrator said 'let's talk solutions,' and I said 'that probably depends on what the problem is, and I don't know what the problem is, but given all the things I've done and all the things I've checked, I am sure that the problem is not my phone.' He said it must be, because I was the only person who he's heard mention this. I named three others who have the same problem to some degree or other. He responded that we're not going to do anything expensive to solve a problem that four people have. I said that I had not taken the time to query my co-workers, but my guess was that if four of us have this problem, more of us do.

    He then asked how having my phone work would benefit me in my job. I said, 'I would be able to receive a call from my boss if he needs me to do something for him. I would be able to send a text message to my co-worker if I need to ask him a question.' To me, these seem like reasonable things. I am not asking to watch videos or surf the internet; we have WiFi that (from most places) would allow me to do that. I am simply asking for the ability to MAKE PHONE CALLS FROM MY PHONE.

    I realize that being able to use one's phone at work is not a right. However, I think it is a reasonable expectation. What if a family member had an emergency and was trying to reach me? What if a co-worker fell down the stairs and I needed to call someone? This is a large building, and depending on where I am, yelling might not do any good.

    Maybe I'll just stop carrying my phone. It is a warm slab in my pocket, and I'm guessing that can't be good for it. I walked in at 7:30 this morning with battery at 95%. Bluetooth and location were off. I closed all apps in Task Manager. When I left at 2:30 this afternoon, my battery was at 30% - and I had put about 15% back in at lunch. The only thing I did with my phone all day was check my voicemail after the phone told me I had one. I didn't do ANYTHING else. Not once.

    As I said, I'm going to drop this right here. I've done what I can do: I did everything a reasonable person would do to make sure the problem wasn't on their end; I collected a bunch of information; I went through the proper channels. What happens from here is out of my hands, so I'm not going to think about it. I appreciate the help of all of you, and if I have anything new to report, I'll stick my head back in. Meanwhile, I'll hope that by the time I need another phone, which I guess could be any day now, someone will come up with a rugged phone that makes decent calls on Verizon. I'll keep dreaming.
  20. blastoff99

    blastoff99 Well-Known Member

    Well, dudes and dudettes, this does not matter anymore.

    Monday my S3 bricked. My new Droid Turbo doesn't do any better at locking onto a tower, but at least it doesn't see to run its battery down in the attempt.

    This morning I got fired. Guess I won't have to worry about lousy phone performance in that building.
  21. svim

    svim Well-Known Member

    After re-reading your postings, if the actual work you were doing was as thorough and detailed it's their loss. Yeah, it really sucks to lose a job but in the long term you'll be much better off and a lot happier when you do find that place that actually appreciates your efforts and enthusiasm.
    codesplice likes this.
  22. codesplice

    codesplice Elite Recognized Geek Moderator

    That is NOT the resolution that we were hoping for. :-(
  23. codesplice

    codesplice Elite Recognized Geek Moderator

    And has better cell coverage! ;-)
  24. blastoff99

    blastoff99 Well-Known Member


    Thanks for the kind words, guys. svim, you are right in that I am pretty detail-oriented. I do not do anything by halves, and this job (and my volunteer work) were the same way. I invested myself heavily, because that's just what I do. I don't need commendation for it; it is its own reward.

    As far as someone else appreciating my efforts and enthusiasm, I really thought this was the place. Although I am not low-maintenance and there has been some drama of my creation, the drama was distant enough (and on the other side of my recent review which was extremely positive) that I felt very good about where things were and the progress I made from a strictly-work standpoint, personally, and relationally with those around me. Ironically, it was only this last week that I had a sense of 'This is so good - it is so right, and I feel like I truly belong.' Immediate involuntary termination (without cause or for cause I forgot to ask; I didn't manage to think of everything at that moment) when I walked into my home base Friday morning was out of the blue.

    codesplice, we'll see. Right now I'm in shock, which is probably why I'm not sleeping at 3 o'clock in the morning. I probably won't think about 'what next' for a month. Financially I can swing that.

    Thanks again, guys.
    codesplice likes this.

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