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Old 10-17-2007, 08:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
John Clark
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Default UMA @ hotels/hotspots while roaming...etc.

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So, the main reasons I got the 8320 were for international travel and to try and help with low signals in the back rooms at hotels, etc. when I travel domestically. Some of those lower floor rooms on the backside of a hotel can be cell phone voids. I have UMA working great at home but what about out on the road?

Yesterday, I checked into a Hampton Inn here in South Carolina. SC has no actual TMobile coverage but is covered for TMobile by AT&T and SunCom. So, I check in and, of course, first thing I do is scan for wifi networks (love the network scanner, BTW.) I pick up the Hampton's "hhonors" free network and connect. I get a successful connection but wifi doesn't turn bold. So, realizing I probably need to enter the code on my key packet at the Hampton website that comes up I open the wifi browser and pull up a website. Sure enough, it redirects to the Hampton's code entry site. I enter the code and off I go.

After watching the thing for a while I notice that the UMA will come up for about 2 minutes then go back to EDGE for a few minutes then go back to UMA and back to EDGE again. So, since there's no TMo here I figure it is switching cell networks because one or the other is stronger. So, I manually select a mobile network (SunCom.) Now, no more UMA at all. I figure it's peak internet useage time at the hotel and leave it there. During all this switching my battery is being hit hard by the switching back and forth so I decide to just leave it for the night and turned off wifi altogether.

So today, I leave the hotel to go and try a Starbucks. No UMA. I finally figured out that you can't leave the mobile network in Manual. This makes sense as it is locked to the mobile network and doesn't want to switch to UMA through TMobile. So, I set it back to Automatic and UMA works fine again. I was surprised how weak the signal was in the Starbucks but....that's another story.

I get back to my room at the Hampton and the UMA is working but doing that switching thing again. IT locks on to UMA and says "T-Mobile-hhonors." However, each time it leaves UMA it changes to "SunCom-hhonors" and EDGE. It then changes to T-Mobile-hhonors again. Hmmm...for some reason it won't stay on Tmobile-hhonors. So during one of the cycles when it says "TMobile-hhonors" I go to mobile network and change it to manual again. When I select manual it tries to do a scan. I cancel the scan. Now it says "Searching for Network" but the wifi arrows are flashing something fierce. I leave it there in manual, it still says TMobile in the mobile network screen. Finally, the "searching for network" on the home screen goes away and UMA comes up and it says "T-Mobile-hhonors" on the home screen. It has stayed there ever since, solid as a rock.

So, my conclusion is when it finally selects UMA it sees that as T-Mobile network (through the wifi connection.) However, the EDGE signal is strong with the roaming carriers here and so it, for some reason, changes back to SunCom/EDGE. But, now, with it locked to "TMobile" in the mobile network screen it stays on the T-Mobile through the wifi connection.

The trick is to catch it during the cycle when it says Tmobile and to lock it there in the mobile network page. If you were to do a regular manual scan for networks you wouldn't even find Tmobile since there is no cellular TMobile here.

The only drawback to this method is that if you leave the wifi coverage, you drop the call and the network goes to SOS because it's in manual mode. I notice that when it did this and I looked in the mobile network option page it changed to SunCom but wouldn't lock on more than SOS. When I came back into the wifi coverage it locked back on again to UMA and said TMobile. (All this might change when SunCom becomes TMobile and this problem may go away in this particular area.)

One new thing I noticed in the mobile network option page is they've added a line in the mobile network page that says "Switch to automatic if the manual network is not found." I set that to yes so that if I lose the Tmobile UMA then it will go back to automatic and find SunCom or AT&T again for EDGE coverage.

I know this was long, and drawn out, but hope it helps someone.
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