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Internet issue could take out mobile connectivity

Nokia Oyj. (HEL:NOK1V) and Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFTbid to put Windows Phone back into the mix seemed to be heating up.  The world's largest phonemaker, Nokia, moved 1 million Lumia phones in Q4 2011 despite its absence from the world's top two smartphone markets -- China and the U.S.  And in Q1 2012, it sold more than 2 million Lumia smartphones according to just released figures [source].  And the Lumia 900 LTE -- Nokia's U.S. flagship phone -- looked off to a promising start with a sweet $99 U.S. price tag and $100 offer for new subscribers, which left the phone essentially free.

I. A Poorly Executed Launch Mars Generally Polished Product

But the highly anticipated launch of the Lumia 900 LTE on AT&T, Inc. (T) had some major hiccups.

First, Nokia and Microsoft's "Beta Phone" campaign received mixed reviews.  And by aggressively mocking pass mess-ups from the likes of Apple, Inc. (AAPL), Nokia put a great deal of pressure on itself to have an error free launch.

The Nokia Lumia 900. [Image Source: Nokia]

Launching on Easter Sunday was another poor decision.  Customers were left with no open AT&T stores to assist them with questions, and were only able to get the product from online purchases.

II. A Crippling Bug

But the biggest issue came when a number of users began to report Wi-Fi connectivity issues.

Lumia 900 connectivity issues
Many users were left with no conectivity (Note: pictured connectivity loss was triggered by an AT&T black-spot, not the glitch; highlighted add for emphasis).
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

Ed. Note: As a Lumia 900 owner, I used Wi-Fi over the weekend without issue.  My phone had another minor problem -- it did not come with activation instructions.  Rather than dig around online, I opted to activate it on Monday. 

The reports began on Nokia's support forums and Windows Phone related forums.  On the wpcentral forums, "Cartman" wrote:

Just an update to the data connection issue for me. I turned off my phone last night. After turning it on this morning by plugging it into a power source I no longer have data.

I am in an AT&T LTE area. Have a feeling that 4G would work fine. Dont know if I should replace my device at this point but not having reliable data is a big issue for me as it affects the ability to due my job.

User "kltye" suggests the issue is SIM related, writing:

I had my data go out twice at exactly the same time each day (hard reset fixed it the first time; didn't want to do that again today). I talked to a rep in the store and they were immediately aware of the problem - it's the SIM card. They apparently received a new batch of SIMs over the weekend to fix the problem. They provisioned me with a new SIM, but it took almost a half hour for it to start working again.

An interesting trick I learnt from them is to push the volume up, power, and camera button while the phone is on, and hold it until it reboots. Apparently it "resets the network", but I'm going to take it with a grain of salt for now. (As an interesting note, I did that one last time after my new SIM was provisioned and then data worked after that, but I chalk that up to coincidence, because they did that a million times at the store)

The rep had a 900 with working data; he swapped out his SIM and mine and my phone came to life immediately. Goes to show it's the SIM.

III. Nokia Offers Quick Fix, $100 Cash to Buyers

After a flood of criticism, Nokia was relatively quick to respond.  Late Tuesday, the Finnish phonemaker owned up to its mistake and said there was an issue with the phone's software -- specifically a memory management issue -- and not an underlying issue with the OS or network.

While Nokia won't drop its over-the-air fix until next Monday, Nokia's U.S. chief Chris Weber told All Things Digital that the in-store stock might already be fixed.  He comments, "We’re already manufacturing devices with the new software.  Those are being shipped to AT&T stores."

He adds sheepishly, "Obviously you don’t want these things to happen."

While a "current investigation" is pending at Nokia as to how such a serious issue could slip through the cracks of the testing process, Nokia is responding in a big way for customers.  Any customer who buys, or has bought the device before April 21, gets a $100 USD credit.

Nokia hundred dollar bill
Nokia is giving customers $100 compensation for the bug. [Image Source: U.S. Treasury]

AT&T was already offering a $100 promotional credit for new customers, taking the phone's $99 sticker down to "free".  It is unclear whether customers will be able to apply the second credit towards their monthly bill, but Nokia claims it applies to all customers, so presumably savvy new customers who ordered online will be getting a free phone and $100.

IV. Lesson Learned?

The Nokia phone is not the first flagship launch to be marred by connectivity issues.  The iPhone 4 from Apple infamously had issues with dropping calls at launch, which led to its CEO proclaiming, "You're holding it wrong!"

"Death Grip"

Ironically, Nokia parodied this statement in its advertisements, only to fall victim to similar issues itself.  To Nokia's credit, Apple only offered customers a pseudo-fix in the form of insulating free cases -- Nokia is offering a fix and $100.

This is not the first Nokia Lumia product to be marred by software bugs, however.  Early Lumia 700 and 800 purchasers in Europe reported the phones to be suffering from poor battery life, a problem Nokia tracked down to a software bug.

Hopefully Nokia has learned from these incidents, but customers have at least learned that the company -- while flawed -- does try to take care of them when things go wrong.

Sources: Nokia [Connectivity issues], [Lumia sales], All Things Digital

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Antennagate 2.0, whatever, move along people
By Pirks on 4/11/2012 1:06:06 PM , Rating: 4
It'd be more interesting to hear Jason's opinion about his new Lumia 900. Jason, care to post a nanoreview here or something?

I purchased HTC Titan for $270 a few days ago to replace my BB Torch 9850 'cause I always wanted big screen and was wary of crapdroid sluggishness, lack of firmware updates and malware. So far so good, Mango works pretty well for me, everything is super fast and slick (at least perceptionally, not in geeky benchmarks of course), setup took 3 minutes just to enter a few of my account infos, for corporate, for home, a few social networks and such, then the phone synced all by itself, I got all ma mail, chats, status updates etc... and the hardware is top notch quality wise. Can't say it's worse quality than iPhone, it's on par, same tight monolithic brick as iPhone, and it's probably slightly better than plasticky Samsung devices. I like all matte black metal, it's ma style :D For a phone of such quality and without a contract $270 is a steal, looks like I got lucky that day hehe :)

Jason, your turn.

P.S. did you guys notice Lumia 900 is #1 hot seller on Amazon and it's reviews are 90% five stars? What's up with that? Is it really THAT good or is it some marketing ploy from MS?

RE: Antennagate 2.0, whatever, move along people
By aurareturn on 4/11/2012 1:21:23 PM , Rating: 4
Of course the Amazon reviews are fake. It has 100 customer reviews already and non of them had the "Verified Purchase sign. I'm almost certain that MS & Nokia hired writers to write the reviews.

By geddarkstorm on 4/11/2012 1:34:39 PM , Rating: 3
Especially since there's pretty much nothing special or unique about this phone--basically the same hardware stats as all WP7's that have been around for months! Just a bigger 800. A very stagnant platform.

And did I mention how ugly a phone with sharp corners and perfect rectangular shape is? But that's just personal opinion.. I simply can't believe the ergonomics are anything other than horrible.

RE: Antennagate 2.0, whatever, move along people
By mrdoubleb on 4/11/2012 1:38:15 PM , Rating: 5
Completely agree! All those Amazon reviews giving 5 stars to the Iphone 4 are fake!

... oh a wait a minute! Maybe just because you don't like a device it doesn't automatically mean everyone else who does is a fake reviewer hired by the manufacturer?! No way!

By retrospooty on 4/11/2012 1:32:45 PM , Rating: 2
"I purchased HTC Titan for $270 a few days ago to replace my BB Torch 9850"

Congrats on the light that must now be shining. =)

RE: Antennagate 2.0, whatever, move along people
By Pirks on 4/11/2012 1:55:00 PM , Rating: 2
Whaaa? Who's shining? Mango has really tiny market share compared to BB so I actually went DOWNWARDS if you think about it. I went from somewhat popular smartphone to totally UNpopular one, what the eff is the light you're talking about? The light coming from a deep hole? Maybe.

I just purchased what I liked, as usual. A year ago I liked Torch 9850 the best from all the phones I tried, now it's Titan. iPhone is always second on my list because of tiny screen and stupid glass on the back (I want black matte metal on back, always, like on Torch and on Titan :), and crapdroid is distant third. BB is out of the question now until they release BB10, then we'll see where in this list they land, definitely above crapdroid, judging by my experience with Playbook, but whether they beat iPhone with a nice large screen is kinda open question.

By retrospooty on 4/11/2012 2:11:07 PM , Rating: 2
I mean you dumped your Blackberry in favor of a modern phone. That isnt a step downwards by any means. I havent really used WP7 , but everyone I know and read online that has, swears its really good stuff. Sounds like you agree, so congrats on your nice new phone.

RE: Antennagate 2.0, whatever, move along people
By Pirks on 4/11/2012 2:22:09 PM , Rating: 2
Ya it's good, screen is better and email is top notch just like on Torch but I miss my trackpad and my microSD slot, so no, Mango is not universally better compared to BB, RIM still has some nice aces up their sleeve

By retrospooty on 4/11/2012 2:26:55 PM , Rating: 2
I dunno... Most phones have microSD, not sure why they left it off the Titan. As for the trackpad, it's really not useful, its was designed for an older non-multitouch system. Once you get used to it, you'll never miss it, believe me.

RE: Antennagate 2.0, whatever, move along people
By Pirks on 4/11/2012 2:36:42 PM , Rating: 2
Most phones have microSD, not sure why they left it off the Titan
Ah, you're just not aware that WP7 does not support user changeable microSD at all. Read some docs will ya?

I tried to use touch screen to control my text cursor but trackpad is still better for that, hands down. Combination of trackpad for precise cursor control and touch for rough control is the optimum that only BB has.

By retrospooty on 4/11/2012 3:30:10 PM , Rating: 2
I was not aware of that... Still all other major OS's support it, so its more of a negative for WP7 than it is a positive for RIM. Good luck with your aniquated trackpad woes. Its gone forever dood.

RE: Antennagate 2.0, whatever, move along people
By Pirks on 4/11/2012 6:39:57 PM , Rating: 2
Once you compare Playbook with crapdroid tablets for the same price you'd understand why crapdroid is crap droid :)

By Pirks on 4/12/2012 6:52:57 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, a huge gang of all sorts of crapdroid tablets of various size, crapiness and price blew away ONE RIM tablet, LOL :))) Reclaimer, post some more shit pls :)))

By maven81 on 4/11/2012 5:50:36 PM , Rating: 2
I know this is purely anecdotal, but I've had mine since friday and have had no issues. Clearly Nokia wouldn't have reacted if there wasn't a widespread problem but I wonder why it effects some phones and not others.

AT&T were the ones that actually screwed me in a way, I asked to switch my number from sprint, and they told sprint to kill it before I got my new phone. So I was phone-less for 24 hours. But on the other hand it came pre-activated. I didn't have to touch the simcard or do anything, just turn it on.

And I'm very impressed with this thing. UI is very slick, polished, and hasn't crashed no matter what I've tried to do. Huge improvement over my Evo 4G. The resolution of the screen is no better, but the deep blacks of the amoled make it look much more vibrant then lcd. The battery life seems to be almost exactly a day with a decent amount of use on 4G. And I really like the device, it feels comfortable in my hand, not overly heavy, and no sharp edges. The cyan color is also pretty cool, makes it stand out from the sea of black phones out there.

Perfect Example
By Shark Tek on 4/11/2012 1:25:37 PM , Rating: 2
Be careful throwing sh*t to the competitors the wind can blow against you.

Does Nokia have a BETA phone too?

Epic Fail

RE: Perfect Example
By koenshaku on 4/11/2012 3:51:05 PM , Rating: 4
at least the CEO didn't accuse you of holding it wrong, then when it blows up he pops a pink rubber band at you and tells you to deal with it or buy a different phone lol. (iPhone 4)
These are just a handful of handsets and iphones always have a had shaky launches like the yellow tinted screens and over heating issues.

RE: Perfect Example
By Varun on 4/12/2012 11:40:02 AM , Rating: 2
And don't forget they actually fixed the issue with the CDMA version of the iPhone 4, and the same new design made its way to the iPhone 4s to zero fanfare.

Wifi issues... right
By mrdoubleb on 4/11/2012 1:33:30 PM , Rating: 2
So just out of curiosity, how embarrassing is it for a site like Dailytech to post about "wifi issues", when all the world knows this is a bug interfering with data of the 4G network?

RE: Wifi issues... right
By Cheesew1z69 on 4/11/2012 1:36:16 PM , Rating: 2
The world eh? I don't see any reports of it. Care to post something to show this?

RE: Wifi issues... right
By mrdoubleb on 4/11/2012 1:48:03 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, I should have specified: no other news site says anything about Wifi. Feel free to look for "Lumia 900" data bug on Google and browse the 24,000 entries.

Here are some examples:

RE: Wifi issues... right
By bah12 on 4/11/2012 3:54:23 PM , Rating: 2

Even DT's pseudo parent site got it right.

By Argon18 on 4/11/2012 11:15:52 PM , Rating: 2
"You're holding it wrong!"

A great big hearty LMAO to all the micro softies out there who incessantly hated on the iphone for its antenna reception issues, only to fall victim to the exact.same.problem. Exact Same. Oh, Microsoft. At least you're consistent in your defective product launches. "I'm waiting until SP2 comes out!!!11111" lol.

RE: lmao
By Helbore on 4/12/2012 8:45:37 AM , Rating: 2
Well they didn't blame the customers for holding the phone wrong and they're pushing out a software update rapidly to fix the problem.

Most people didn't "hate on the iPhone" for having a bug or defect. All complex electronic good suffer from them. It was the attitude that came back - all the way from the top. It was the "our hardware is perfect. Its you stupid users who don't know how to hold a phone properly that's the problem," attitude that angered people and made them fling faeces in Apple's general direction.

I'd take an apology and a fix over being blamed for that fault any day. I'd also take a $100 rebate over a $5 rubber case, too.

That and it seems the fault wasn't actually Microsoft's, so you're shouting at the wrong culprit anyway.

RE: lmao
By Varun on 4/12/2012 11:38:21 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah the major difference here was that Nokia is owning up to the issue and fixing it.

RE: lmao
By datdamonfoo on 4/12/2012 10:35:25 AM , Rating: 2
Please tell me how these are the exact same. The iPhone flaw was a hardware/design flaw that affected ALL iPhone 4's at the time.

This is a SOFTWARE flaw that is already fixed. It is not a hardware flaw. It is fixed by a patch, not a forced bumper.

Also, the difference in reactions between Apple and Nokia could not be more different.

But you knew all this, right?

Ahhh...the sweet smell of desperation!
By jnemesh on 4/11/12, Rating: 0
By Pirks on 4/11/2012 2:10:48 PM , Rating: 3
MS was always buying their way into the new post-Windows markets, not opening them like Apple did, so nothing new here. They just act as usual.

By name99 on 4/11/2012 2:45:11 PM , Rating: 2
So how many of these phones HAVE been sold in what ATT told us would be bigger than any iPhone release? I haven't seen any numbers, but I'm not a journalist.

I have to admit my gut feeling is that the number is "not that many" which is why Nokia/MS don't feel too bad about giving out this $100.

By sprockkets on 4/11/2012 3:30:33 PM , Rating: 2
I'm just trying to understand this. First, there is a WiFi issues cause people had no data period? Then, a sim issue. But then it is a memory issue corrupting the sim ? and of course, wp7 isn't to blame.

RE: so
By datdamonfoo on 4/11/2012 4:38:15 PM , Rating: 2
The Wifi issue/Sim issue are the same problem. The problem was with the Nokia-only software, not Windows Phone 7 itself. It's already fixed on phones being manufactured currently, and for earlier phones, there will be a software fix on the 16th (or you can swap your phone at any at&t store for one that does not suffer from the bug).

Who's fault is it?
By chµck on 4/11/2012 3:36:38 PM , Rating: 2
If it really was an issue with the sim card, could this be pinned on nokia? Doesn't the carrier deal with phone activations?

Kudos to MS
By integr8d on 4/11/2012 1:48:08 PM , Rating: 1
Sort of... This is sloppy on their part. And while maybe 50% of geeks out there could care less, there are probably 50% that look at MS with a scornful eye. Those of us with long enough memories remember what the tech world was like, when Microsoft dominated everything.

That being said, they made the right move by coughing up the $$$, vis a vis Nokia. You know the minute it was a confirmed issue, the CEO of Nokia looked at Sweaty Steve and Steve said, "Fine. $100 for each phone." It's not like Nokia had that money sitting around.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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