ASI's Aging, Health Care and Other Blogs

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We are located in an area where our Verizon coverage is marginal, but still the best available.  When we switched to Verizon back in 2010 we got a Network Extender. It acts like we have a small cell phone tower in our house.  It uses our fast WiFi connection to connect to some Verizon server and seamlessly connects our phones to the Verizon network.  Back in 2010 it cost $250+, but there is no monthly charge.  The box looks like a WiFi router except that it has a GPS built-in. This means that it needs to be placed on a window sill, so that it can "see" the GPS satellites so that it know how to handle 911 calls. 

The first network extender lasted about two years and was off warranty when it quit working. The second one they sold me for just over $100, and it lasted just over a year.  I am now on my third one and it started giving me problems last week.

All three have exhibited the exact same failure mode.  All of the lights indicate that it is working fine, but I have 0 or 1 bar of coverage on my phones rather than the 3 or 4 that I normally see when the extender is working.  If I dial #48 to check is I am using the extender, either the call won't go through or I get the message that I am not connected to the extender.  When I call Verizon  and spend hours on the phone they always say that "The account data for the extender isn't correct and 'fix it'" and always tell me that we should power down the extender and WiFi routers for 3 minutes, bring the Internet back up, then plug in the extender and let it go thru it 20 minutes startup cycle. Note the extenders long startup isn't the GPS finding the required 3 or 4 satellites but the Network Extender finding Verizon (ie the Sys light).  This worked last week and again today.  There is no reason why it failed again over the weekend - we didn't have a power outage.  Ultimately the Verizon tech decides that my extender must be bad and I have to get another one.  What a great business plan for Verizon!

If this "urban legend" about the power-up sequence is actually true, it means that the Samsung engineers who designed the box never planned on recovering correctly after a power failure.  I have been told by router and computer support engineers all sorts of myths about the desired sequence of re-powering your local area network.  But the truth is that for devices to "support" recovery after a power failure they need to be able to come up in any random order (ie router first or computer first). 

It will be interesting to see how long this Network Extender lasts.  I have been hoping that Verizon will soon support WiFi Calling, which that once said that they would do by mid-2015.  This would allow me to get rid of the Network Extender and also allow me to have better reception and places that have poor Verizon coverage but have good WiFi.



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