Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sprint/FreedomPop Nexus 5 Phones Suddenly Won't Connect to 3G Service -- Solution


I've been using Freedompop phones and their service for the past two or more years.  The service really is free if you stay below the 500Mb data limit (easy to do), are willing to put up with crappy voice quality, and are careful about their sneaky rules.  I use the phones to get email while on the road, and I use Waze and Yelp when driving or traveling.  I also routinely use a spare Freedompop phone as a wifi hotspot when I am traveling in the US -- I use the Wifi Tether app rather than paying Freedompop's tethering fee. I rarely make or receive calls using my Freedompop phone and actually have a cheapass Verizon phone to do that.  I also have a FP Overdrive Pro wifi hotspot and pay $3.99 per month for the ability to get 3G service on that device.  It's well worth it. 

Freedompop uses the Sprint network.  I find that I am usually in Sprint's 3G network areas and rarely in the 4G LTE areas.  So my phones have to connect to the 3G network. 

I have two Freedompop Nexus 5 phones.  Both have been working fine up until November 21.  Starting that day, the icon showing the wireless signal included an exclamation point, and the phones were unable to get data over the cellular connection.  The exclamation point went away when the phone was near a wifi hotspot that I could connect to -- but once away from wifi, the exclamation point reappears and I was unable to get data over the cell connection. 

This meant no phone calls, no Internet, no email -- the phone was useless.  I tried updating the PRL and profile and restarting the phone, but these methods did not work.  It seems to me that these phones are now unable to access Sprint's 3G network.  I did drive into an area that had a strong 4G LTE signal and the phone downloaded emails, and then worked on 3G for a bit -- but the same problem started again. 

I researched the web for this problem and possible solutions.  Here's the one that worked for me, and thanks Bradley!

The solution can be found here:
https://forums.freedompop.com/discussion/11571/phone-has-trouble-finding-lte-from-no-service-or-3g

And here is the solution:
I had a similar problem. This resolved my issue:

I had the same problem (no data at all using cellular network) after updating my unrooted Nexus 5 to Android 5.1.1 using the OTA update (build LMY48I), but managed to solve it using these steps:

Type star#star#4636#star#star in the phone dialer. You will see a rather messy dialog "Phone info".
Tap the three dots in the upper right corner and tap "Enable data connection".
This fixed the issue for me.

This seems to have fixed the issue for me too! The cell signal icon now shows 3G and a triangle, as it should.  The phone is downloading emails and getting on the Internet even though wifi is turned off. 

PS -- You might have to update the PRL and profile, and then restart the phone.  Here are some links on how to do this:
https://support.ecomobile.com/support/solutions/articles/5000538933-nexus-5-update-prl-profile

http://support.freedompop.com/Phones/LG-Nexus-5/55418645/Update-the-Profile-and-PRL-Preferred-Roaming-List-on-your-Google-Nexus-5.htm

Update the Profile and PRL (Preferred Roaming List) on your Google Nexus 5

Steps to update the PRL on your Google Nexus 5

Keeping your Preferred Roaming List (PRL) up-to-date can improve your network coverage if you are roaming.

From the home screen, tap the All Apps icon.
Scroll to and tap Settings.
Tap More.
Tap Cellular networks.
Tap Carrier settings.
Tap Update Profile
After the update completes, tap Update PRL


*****
Phone using too much data?  Try this: Google Play settings -- auto update apps over wifi only.  

 One more tip: Before this post, I had new Nexus 5 phones from Freedompop, which worked fine -- except that after a few days of use, suddenly my 400Mb of free data was all used up!

After searching some forums, I discovered the problem and the solution.  It appears that Google Services was attempting to download an update to the Android OS on my Nexus 5.  I saw the update, kept allowing it to happen, and was then getting an error message that the update failed.  Once the update failed, Google Services downloaded the update again, to try and try again. 

The forums gave the answer: Freedompop phones have some kind of layer over the Android OS, and this layer in the Nexus 5 phone has a bug.  This bug prevents the Nexus 5 phones from ever being able to install an update.  That's OK with me.  To prevent this constant updating, here's a forum post:

https://forums.freedompop.com/discussion/9806/android-5-1-1-update-verification-failed/p4

I did the below:
Option 2: Go to Settings>>Data Usage>>Click "Google Services">> Scroll to the bottom and click "Restrict Background Data". Now your phone will stop downloading the 4.3 update until you uncheck this option. I have found a few cons to doing this, however. You will notice your signal bars will stay gray now when you are on mobile data, and not blue. You will stop receiving notifications from apps like Snapchat, Google+, and Google Hangouts, as well as other apps that use sync, until you are on WiFi. Google Plus is not usable on Mobile Data anymore. And these are just a few things. But it all generally only happens on Mobile Data. Once you are on WiFi again, there are no problems and your phone will be back to normal.

MAJOR NOTE: Some people have recommended to black the background data usage of Google Services. When I tried this fix my phone was no longer able to receive incoming calls or texts. If you are 100% on wifi this is not a problem, but if you're not this can be a big problem.

Update 12-2-15: I just discovered that the DJI Go app on my Nexus 5 (which didn't work well with my quadcopter) sucked up a bunch of data in the past few days.  So I set it to allow data only on wifi. 

*****
Freedompop: Why make it so confusing for people to post to a forum?  

I was surprised at how difficult Freedompop makes it to post to a forum, and how little information it gives to folks who are trying to post.  It's ridiculous and a complete waste of one's time. 

Let's say you would like to make a comment on a Freedompop forum.  Well, like all the other folks before you, you will spend 20 minutes or so trying to figure out how to do this.  You'll log in with your FP user name and password.  No joy.  You'll search in vain for a "comment" box.  You then try registering a completely new username.  Still no joy. 


Here's a link to clarify the problem:
https://forums.freedompop.com/discussion/3784/please-make-it-clear-how-to-join-the-forums-to-make-a-post

Finally you might come across the forum post above and find the comments below:
"I was a little confused at the beginning too. I signed in with my FreedomPop account, but it wouldn't let me post or comment. I just kept getting "You don't have permission" type errors. I guess they were approving my account before allowing the first post? But it didn't say that anywhere. So I was wondering what the heck I was doing wrong. After waiting a day or so, though, I was able to post/comment normally.

..."just joined yesterday and had the same issue. The first email comes immediately and says:
You need to confirm your email address before you can continue.
Please confirm your email address by clicking on the following link:
https://forums.freedompop.com/entry/emailconfirm/....

Once I did that I appeared to be accepted as I was logged in. I then spent an hour looking around in every nook and cranny trying to figure out what the heck I had to do to make a post. Finally I decided to search for how to make a post, since if I was having this much trouble someone else must have as well, and I found this post. But that was after already wasting a lot of time.

It would be very helpful if you simply added another sentence to that first email saying something like:
After you confirm your email address your request will still need to be approved by an administrator prior to you being able to post. You will receive another email when that occurs.

This simple change will save others time and will start them out with freedompop and a much better note. Many of us are coming to the forum already frustrated and then having this happen just raises the level of irritation. I'm sure it's not intensional (sic), but now that this issue has been pointed out several times and it can be easily remedied, why not do it?


So in summary, if you ever want to post to a FP forum, you have to register with your FP user name or a new name.  You then have to click an emailed link to confirm your email address.  THEN you have to wait to be approved to make a post.  THEN and only then, will a "Comment" window show up in your browser.  Until then, it is just hidden.  FINALLY, once you make a comment, that comment won't show up until a FP moderator approves it. 

I don't have to say the obvious -- this is ridiculously difficult.  FP is making it that way and wasting their customers' time.


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