Why Does My Phone Keep Dropping Data Connection?

I love it when I get real frustration from time to time with the weekly 911 tech support questions and answers; it keeps me on my toes. This time, the reader is fucking passionate about getting any kind of data through Verizon. But here’s the weird thing: the data connection only drops during business hours.

As Lifehacker reader Sherry writes:

What happened to my Verizon data?

Thank you for being ready to help others. I really appreciate that. I apologize in advance if I am not using the correct terminology to explain what is happening. I am 58 years old and have no education in any of these technologies.

I have a Samsung Galaxy S10E. Verizon is my ISP. I have unlimited data. Every day from 8 am to 5 pm I cannot connect to the Internet. I cannot check my Yahoo mail. I cannot open the Google news feed. I cannot access YouTube. I cannot find out the weather. I cannot send or receive images. I can write text but cannot send images. I can make and receive calls normally. I have 4G LTE on my phone. I had 2 bars at the time. My signal strength is 108. Today I spent hours on the phone with Verizon. My phone works fine, no problem whatsoever. In fact, if I want to use the Internet, I have to get in my car and drive about half a mile to get the Internet, and then it will be perfect. I can use the Internet for everything.

The person from Verizon said that it is likely that traffic is interfering with the tower at the time, which is preventing me from using the Internet. He then said that with the bands and signal strength I have, there shouldn’t be any reason why I won’t be able to connect to the internet. Towards the end of our conversation, he said that it seems as if the tower deviates slightly from my residence (duplex) between 8 and 5. Spectrum has a monopoly in this area and I personally feel that their emi (broadband signals) interfere with my ability get internet access. I looked at the nearby Wi-Fi connections and there are a lot of them. I feel like it’s their conspiracy to get people to buy their services in order to get access to the Internet. I don’t want to do this because I can access the Internet anywhere but here, and I have unlimited data and I need to be able to connect to the Internet at home. The Verizon man spoke about the network extender. He said he didn’t want to lose me as a customer, but the network extender would be $ 250. It seemed that he would do it for me, but while continuing to speak, he did not. I was a Verizon customer when Alltel existed. He said that eventually one of the towers that are next to me will cease to be 1g and 3g towers and that might solve my problem. It doesn’t help me now. […]

Is there a way to get around all of this so that I can connect to the Internet from 8 to 5 when I’m at home?

Before You Say Goodbye To Verizon Try This

I confess, Sherri, your letter confused me greatly. The fact that your cell signal drops from eight to five every day is one of the more perplexing issues I’ve encountered. This is not unique; I’ve seen a few other reports from people about spotty cell signals that seem to fit your predicament, but never got it … planned.

My first thought is that Verizon, always limitless in its ability to not get to the bottom of the problem, is not worth your service if they are not willing to do their best to solve the problem for you. I mean, they hold the keys to the kingdom on this one; I can help, but I mostly spit on the network analytics and testing tools they have at their disposal.

Before you ditch Big Red for good, let’s try a few troubleshooting methods. The first and most obvious thing is to restart your phone. And I mean dropping it. Make sure to save your data and photos to a different location, then follow these steps to restore your device to factory settings . I’m not sure if this will solve your problem, but given the severity of what you’re running into, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try – even if it’s frustrating to set up your phone from scratch (even when dealing with a simple restore).

If you’d rather leave this step for last, I don’t blame you. Until then, you can try contacting Verizon (again) and get a replacement SIM for your phone. Again, I’m just chatting, but it’s possible that some kind of SIM issue is preventing you from getting regular internet access on your device. This doesn’t explain why you can only get a working data connection after 5pm – I’m still at a loss for that – but I’ve read reports on how a faulty SIM can cause data connection problems that look like to (but not as comprehensive as) to yours.

You can also try removing the SIM card from your phone, resetting network settings, and reinstalling the SIM card. I suspect your problem is more of a Verizon problem than your phone problem, but it doesn’t hurt to be careful. My other thought is to try resetting your phone’s APN settings .

A signal booster can help, but you need diplomacy

A potentially more expensive solution is to pick up a signal booster , but at this point it’s probably better to spend the time researching other carriers than trying to fix Verizon’s problems for it. However, you could make enough arguments that Verizon will provide (or lend) you a free signal booster , so there is a possibility. Call them and see what you can do. Be adorable, but explain in detail what is 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 make Wi-Fi calls in your home. If you have a decent enough wireless network at home, which I hope you have, you should be able to connect your phone to a wireless network. You will be able to access the Internet seamlessly, and any calls you make or receive will go through your Wi-Fi rather than Verizon’s 4G network. This isn’t the best solution when you leave your Wi-Fi range, but it’s a temporary fix while Verizon (presumably) solves any issue in your area.

If it’s time to say goodbye

Also, I would take the OpenSignal app and see what people have to say about the wireless coverage in your area. Find a carrier you like and might want to borrow a friend’s phone or invite them when quarantine goes down to see if they have working mobile data where you live. If so, this is a simple solution – switch from Verizon to someone else who is better suited for the place where you need a signal the most.

That’s all I can think of so far. Am I missing anything, Lifehacker readers?

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