I like it when I get a real stumper for the weekly tech Q&A every now and then; it keeps me on my toes. This time around, a reader is having a hell of a time getting any data through their data provider. Here’s the weird thing, though: The data connection only drops during business hours.
As Lifehacker reader Sherry writes:
What happened to my Verizon data?
Thank you for being available to help others. I truly appreciate that. I apologise beforehand if I do not use the correct terminology to explain what is going on. I’m 58 years old and am not educated in any of this technology.
I have a Samsung Galaxy S10E. Verizon is my internet provider. I have unlimited data. Every day from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. I am unable to connect to the internet. I cannot check my yahoo mail. I cannot open my Google News feed. I cannot access YouTube. I cannot check my weather. I cannot send pictures or receive pictures. I can text but not send pictures. I can call and receive calls fine. I have 4g lte on my phone. I have 2 bars during those times. My signal strength is 108. I was on the phone with Verizon today for hours. My phone works good and there are no problems with my phone. In fact, if I want to use the internet, I have to get into my vehicle and drive about a half mile away to get the internet and its perfect then. I can use the internet for everything.
The Verizon man said it’s likely that traffic is interfering with the tower at those times preventing me from using the internet. Then he said that with the bars and the signal strength I have there shouldn’t be any reason as to why I shouldn’t be able to connect to the internet. Near the end of our conversation, he said that it seems as though the tower is turning slightly away from my residence (a duplex) during the 8-5 time period.
Spectrum has a monopoly in this area and i personally feel like their emi (broadband signals) are interfering with my ability to get the internet. Ive looked at the nearby wi-fi connections available and there are many. I feel like its a plot from them forcing people to buy their services in order to get the internet. I don’t want to do that because I can get the internet anywhere else but here and I have unlimited data and I should be able to get the internet in my home, too. The Verizon man talked about a network extender.
He said he didn’t want to lose me as a customer but that the network extender would cost $US250 ($387). He almost sounded like he would do that for me but as he talked more, he didn’t. I’ve been a Verizon customer when Alltel was around. He said eventually one of the towers that are near me is going to quit being a 1g and 3g tower and that could help my problem. That doesn’t help me now. [...]
Is there some way around all this, so that I can connect to the internet from 8-5 when I am home?
Before you say goodbye to Verizon, try this
I confess, Sherry, your letter left me with a lot of confusion. The fact that your mobile signal is dropping between the hours of eight and five each day is one of the more perplexing issues I’ve encountered. It’s not unique; I’ve seen some other reports from people about spotty cellular signals that sort of match your predicament, but never ones this ... scheduled.
My first thought is that Verizon, ever infinite in its capacity to avoid getting to the bottom of an issue, isn’t worth your service if they’re unwilling to do whatever it takes to fix this problem for you. I mean, they hold the keys to the kingdom on this one; I can help, but I’m basically spitballing compared to the network analytics and testing tools they have at their disposal.
Before you ditch Big Red for good, let’s try a few troubleshooting techniques. First, and most obvious, is to reset your phone. And I mean reset it. Make sure you’ve saved your data and photos elsewhere, then follow these steps to Factory Reset your device. I’m not convinced this will solve your problem, but given the severity of what you’re facing, it couldn’t hurt to try—even though it’ll be annoying to have to set your phone up from scratch (even dealing with a simple restore).
If you’d prefer to leave that step for last, I don’t blame you. In the meantime, you might want to try contacting Verizon (again) and getting a replacement SIM card for your phone. Again, I’m just spitballing, but it’s possible that some kind of SIM issue is preventing you from getting regular internet access on your device. That wouldn’t explain why you can only seem to get a working data connection after five p.m.—I’m still at a loss for that one—but I have read reports about how a malfunctioning SIM card can cause data connection issues that are similar to (but not as comprehensive as) yours.
You can also try taking the SIM card out of your phone, resetting its network settings, and reinstalling the SIM card. I suspect your issue is more a Verizon problem than a your-phone problem, but it doesn’t hurt to be thorough. My other thought is to try resetting your phone’s APN settings.
A signal booster might help, but you’ll need diplomacy
A potentially more expensive solution is to pick up a signal booster, but at this point, it’s probably more worth your time to investigate other carriers than try to fix Verizon’s issues for it. That said, you might be able to make enough of a case that Verizon will give (or loan) you a free signal booster, so there’s that option. Call them up and see what you can do. Be charming but thorough in your explanation of what’s going on and everything you (and Verizon) have done to try and fix it.
What about Wi-Fi calling?
Otherwise, I’m curious why you can’t just use wifi calling in your house. If you have a decent enough of a wireless network setup at home, which I hope you have, you should be able to connect your phone to your wireless network. You’ll be able to access the internet just fine, and any calls you make or receive will route through your Wi-Fi, not Verizon’s 4G network. It’s not a great solution for when you leave your wifi network’s range, but it’s a temporary fix while Verizon (allegedly) deals with whatever this issue is in your area.
If it’s time to say goodbye
Beyond that, I’d grab the OpenSignal app and see what people are saying about wireless coverage in your area. Find a carrier you like, and it might be worth borrowing a friend’s phone or inviting them over once the quarantine lifts to see if they have working mobile data where you live. If so, that’s the easy solution—switch away from Verizon to someone else that’s a better fit for where you most need a signal.
That’s everything I can think of so far. Did I leave anything out, Lifehacker readers?
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