Phones with GSM SIM losing tower registration

What phone do you have? Samsung S7, Moto G5+

What plan are you on? 3.0

Does your plan include data, or just talk & text? N/A


This problem typically occurs when traveling from one city to another. Upon arrival the phone is unable to make calls or send messages. It either will not have any tower connection or it will be connected to an AT&T Tower for emergency calling only. Reboot the phone and it will connect to a T-Mobile tower.,

Some of you will remember the band 12 tower in Mahnomen MN where that problem was isolated to the Republic app and solved. Now I find I can drive to Mahnomen and find myself without a connection even though I’m staring at that Band 12 tower. I reboot the phone and have full bars with LTE.

This problem impacts one S7 and two G5+ phones. It has survived the S7 and one of the G5+ phones being factory reset. It has occurred at my home, in Fargo ND and in Grand Forks ND, all locations having good TMO coverage. This problem has persisted since RW first offered GSM service. It might be isolated to areas that have a mix of towers that includes Band 12 towers.

This problem might explain why people switch from GSM to CDMA in areas where their GSM coverage is actually good but obscured by this registration problem.

Have you experienced this?

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This is what RW Support has to say about this problem:

“Thank you for your concerns with this issue. I have spoken further with our team leads and have determined that this is a limitation with our services in this area. I apologize for the inconvenience of this, but for now the best fix is to reboot your phone should you lose signal in order to regain registration to the towers.”

Have you tried simply toggling airplane mode rather than a full reboot?

Yes, we tried that when one of the G5+ phones lost registration. It didn’t work. We will continue trying that but I’m not optimistic.

Is this problem going to become a greater issue as T-Mobile expands Band 12 and Band 71 coverage?

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Good question. It is possible the problem has something to do with moving from one band to another. This is what T-Mobile has to say about it:

Specifically this:

No signal

  1. Restart the device. Restart your device regularly to reconnect to the network, especially after traveling between towers.

Here is another scenario from RW support that makes sense:

"Thanks for the information; this sounds like your phone is still connected to the AT&T tower when roaming, and that the only way to get off the tower is to reboot. You probably already knew this. I have the same issue in Downtown Tampa sometimes.

This is most likely due to the fact that the partners of the GSM provider has more cell towers in the outlying areas and better coverage in between towns and in roaming areas. When you leave the area of our GSM coverage, you will automatically connect to a partner tower, thus getting limited service until you get to another town. I don’t think the phone will reconnect right away, thus a reboot would snap it back to the closest GSM tower."

Presuming this scenario describes what is actually happening it is seriously exacerbated by the phones connecting to AT&T towers T-Mobile doesn’t roam on. There are lots of these where I live. It’s one thing to lose your data connection but with these towers you lose voice and messaging too. They are only good for emergency calls.

@southpaw I’ve researched this in the T-Mobile community and they are having the same problem. All phone models experience this. T-Mobile readily admits this is a problem and at least a few RW support people are now on board too. T-Mobile subscribers also find themselves clinging to an AT&T tower that doesn’t provide service.

Should we convert this to a Tips and Tricks for people who are using the GSM SIM? I think it is important we get this out. When my granddaughter opened a service ticket on this problem she was told to factory reset her phone. That’s a pretty dramatic step that will not fix the problem and I think RW support was wrong to tell her to do that. The reality is this: We just have to live with it.

Hi @billg,

I don’t want to move this topic into the Tips and Tricks category because it has a lot of extraneous information that someone looking for a solution may not take the time to wade through.

If you’d like to create a new topic with the bare essentials - a description of the experience from the perspective of what the member would see happen, and the solution, that would seem to be a useful Tips & Tricks topic.

Here is what has been concluded regarding this problem:

" I have alerted my network developers about this issue but there is nothing we can do currently. The research you have done is correct and since we do not own the towers, we cannot make those changes.

However, I did make this issue aware to our partners to see if there is something we can do in the future.

It looks like there is nothing more in the form of troubleshooting we can do on this one as we have isolated the problem to a T-Mobile tower issue (with AT&T and such)…"

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