Posted on

Mobile Phones Don’t Play Nice With WiFi

Now that Verizon has dropped their unlimited data plan it is time to follow up on the previous Droid Incredible Crashes WiFi Networks article. Since the Droid Incredible wreaks havoc on the home and office networks I often turn off WiFi on the phone. I do this so often that the WiFi on/off widget is on my home screen and is probably the most-used application on my phone. That is sad.

As sad as that may be, a much more troubling issue is now on the horizon… and by horizon I mean arriving TODAY. While I was perfectly happy scanning my email and checking the latest news on my phone via the 3G network this is now going to be  a very costly endeavor. Every megabit has now become very costly and thus I need to make a choice. Crash the entire local network and render it useless or pay a premium to have a network service that works.

It is time to take off the kid gloves and put on the boxing gloves. If Verizon is going to charge for every bit & byte then they sure as hell need to provide a phone that works on the WiFi network. I’m starting that battle today, we’ll see where it goes. Probably nowhere.

Check back here for updates.

 

Update : Verizon Unlimited Plans “Grandfathered”

Something of note from Verizon’s response to my email about fixing the WiFi on my HTC.  This certainly helps make the broken WiFi less of an issue as I constantly use 3G even when I’m in WiFi range due.

We understand your concerns about your device and new data plans. Please note that customers with unlimited smart phone data plans will be able to keep the data plans as long as the plan remains on the account. Because of this, existing customers with unlimited data plans are not required to select from the new data plans. 

Bernard

Verizon Wireless

Data Technical Support 

Posted on

Droid Incredible Crashes Wifi Networks

Well, I’ve been holding onto this dirty little secret for over a week now.  I was hoping Verizon and/or HTC would address this issue BEFORE the story got out into the hands of the general media.

Why have I waited to release this story? Personally I think the Incredible is a great competitor to the iPhone.  In fact I terminated my contract with AT&T just last week.   Boy did that feel good after 3 years of no cell service ANYWHERE in the country and especially here in Charleston.  I truly want the Droid Incredible by HTC to be a success.  I want the dominance of AT&T and Apple to be tested by the likes of products such as the Incredible.  Good healthy competition is good for all of us.  Better phones, better service, better prices.

BUT… the problem has gone on for too long with only a warmed-over “must be your network” response from the people at HTC.   And that response came after more than a week of telling them “I think you have a problem” and “is anyone home?” messages.

I told Verizon about the problem as well.  To their credit they did ship a replacement phone overnight.  It didn’t help, but at least they tried.   Guess it was what I expected after I explained the problem to the local “tech” at the Verizon store down the street and got nothing but a blank stare in return.   I knew then & there that the guys at the local store knew as much about wireless networking as they did quantum mechanics.    When I brought the problem up with Verizon Corporate they simply bounced my mail back with a URL on “how to connect to WiFi” (thanks, NOT useful) and a tacked-on “not our problem – call HTC”  note at the end.

So now it is time to let the story out…

What Is Going On?

Well, I first noticed a problem the day I brought my new HTC Droid Incredible home.  My network was pathetically slow.  It would crash at odd hours, and I’d get NO Internet connection at all.   Odd, I thought, must be the new Comcast service.    I called Comcast, and after missing their first appointment and showing up 30 hours late they finally got a knowledgeable technician to the house.   Everything checked out fine.   No problems at the home, on the line, or down the street at the head-end router.

Yet, every so-often the network would just crash.   Then a week after working with Comcast, tracking network connections and sniffing packets on my network I figured it out quite by accident.   I was online on my PC running a diagnostic when I wanted to check email.  Not wanting to interrupt the CPU intensive task I reached for my HTC Droid Incredible and started reading my email.  One of the attachments was rather large so I flicked on the Wifi switch.   That is when the world came crashing down.  My wife ran into the room saying “Did you DO something?  The network just crashed!”   Sure enough, I was looking at my PC and seeing a “service disconnected” right in the middle of my testing.   Turn off the WiFi on the HTC Incredible, reconnect and everything starts running along just fine.  Flick.  On goes the Wifi on the HTC.  Off goes the network.   Hmmmm….what an ODD coincidence.

After several hours of testing, checking configurations, and re-testing I realized… this HTC Droid Incredible has a serious design flaw.

Proving The Fail

A few days after realizing that MY HTC Droid Incredible indeed crashed MY network, I visited the local Verizon store.  They expedited a replacement phone which arrived a few days later.   I immediately went into test mode.   Shut down the original phone, power up the new phone, activate, and connect to my network.   Same results… the network slowed to a crawl and crashed almost immediately.

Next test – a different network.  I brought the original HTC to my office after sending back the replacement phone (it had the same result, so it didn’t fix my problem).  Power on the wifi and connect to the office wireless.   Instant failure.  Every wireless device was unable to connect to the outside world.

The HTC Droid Incredible has effectively taken down 2 different networks at 2 different locations.  The only thing they have in common is that they are open networks with a 40/64-bit (10 character) all-numeric WEP key enabled.     Whether or not that is the trigger or whether it is more generic still needs to be tested.   One thing is certain, this phone is adept at crashing the only 2 networks I use on a regular basis.   Luckily I can stay online with 3G and not get on wifi, but this is still a problem.  Not everywhere I go will have 3G access especially in the bowels of various commercial buildings where I visit clients.

Current Status

Fast forward to today.  I have received a communication from HTC (finally) and they basically asked a few questions and hinted that it must be my network.  Reconfigure & reset the HTC.   Yup, been there done that.   At this point I KNOW the HTC crashes at least two networks with absolute certainty.   Later this week I plan to roam various public WiFi hotspots and the homes of various wired (wireless) friends and see what happens.   My guess – the problem will be 100% reproducable with little effort.

Sorry Verizon & HTC, this story is just too big to keep to myself.  The word is out, both to let people know there is a potential problem & to see if I’m alone in this situation.

So how about it Droid Incredible owners… anyone else run into a problem like this?