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Thread: AT&T Prepaid cripples unlocked phones to HSPA+ and can have poor call quality due to no HD Voice

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    AT&T Prepaid cripples unlocked phones to HSPA+ and can have poor call quality due to no HD Voice

    AT&T Prepaid does not work with well with unlocked phones not purchased at AT&T -- you have to "trick" AT&T to force LTE on the phone.

    In addition call quality can be terrible since HD Voice is not supported on unlocked phones.

    Back in November 2019 when I moved my number over from T-Mobile Prepaid to AT&T Prepaid as I left the AT&T retail store my unlocked Moto Z2 Play purchased in March 2019 directly from motorola.com showed "HSPA+" rather than LTE.

    Ookla's speedtest likewise showed HSPA+ speeds.

    Returning to the store the next day to replace prepaid SIM cards did not help.

    After Googling and researching it appears others mention on the internet AT&T doesn't work well with unlocked phones.

    When I returned to the store and tried more prepaid SIM cards which did not help, based on my research the associate had me put a postpaid SIM card from one of the store's display phones into my phone.

    Magically the phone said LTE, and then when I put my prepaid SIM Card back in after initially showing "HSPA+" it then showed LTE and stayed ever since.

    AT&T in their December 2019 rebuttal letter back to the FCC confirmed the facts above and stated at the end "It was determined the store placed a postpaid SIM card in the phone to initiate the LTE on the phone. This could have triggered the correct settings in the phone if it was not properly setup."

    This is standard "corporate speak" since I was physically in the AT&T store trying multiple new prepaid AT&T SIM cards to no avail and then the postpaid AT&T store display SIM card triggered LTE -- Google internet searches show users mentioning AT&T looks at the IMEI number of your cell phone to arbitrarily cripple it and you have to "trick" the network to allow LTE on your phone.

    Finally, I went back to T-Mobile last week as even with the phone showing LTE the cell phone call quality was terrible on AT&T Prepaid over these couple of months -- this could be due to a multitude of factors (including my cell reception signal strength being around -100 dBm) but AT&T Prepaid does not support HD Voice which didn't help.

    Now I am back with T-Mobile Prepaid and with the same cell reception signal strength as AT&T Prepaid the calls are clear again since T-Mobile supports HD Voice on unlocked phones even on prepaid.

    Here is a ZDNET article showing unlocked Google Pixel 4s do not support HD Voice on AT&T's network:

    www (dot) zdnet (dot) com/article/undoing-my-1000-mistake-why-im-returning-the-pixel-4xl-to-google/

    (howardforums is not letting post links hence why I had to type the above like that)

    Besides not supporting HD Voice AT&T should play nice and always support LTE on unlocked phones....

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    Quote Originally Posted by wfgarnett3 View Post
    AT&T Prepaid does not work with well with unlocked phones not purchased at AT&T -- you have to "trick" AT&T to force LTE on the phone.

    In addition call quality can be terrible since HD Voice is not supported on unlocked phones.

    Back in November 2019 when I moved my number over from T-Mobile Prepaid to AT&T Prepaid as I left the AT&T retail store my unlocked Moto Z2 Play purchased in March 2019 directly from motorola.com showed "HSPA+" rather than LTE.

    Ookla's speedtest likewise showed HSPA+ speeds.

    Returning to the store the next day to replace prepaid SIM cards did not help.

    After Googling and researching it appears others mention on the internet AT&T doesn't work well with unlocked phones.

    When I returned to the store and tried more prepaid SIM cards which did not help, based on my research the associate had me put a postpaid SIM card from one of the store's display phones into my phone.

    Magically the phone said LTE, and then when I put my prepaid SIM Card back in after initially showing "HSPA+" it then showed LTE and stayed ever since.

    AT&T in their December 2019 rebuttal letter back to the FCC confirmed the facts above and stated at the end "It was determined the store placed a postpaid SIM card in the phone to initiate the LTE on the phone. This could have triggered the correct settings in the phone if it was not properly setup."

    This is standard "corporate speak" since I was physically in the AT&T store trying multiple new prepaid AT&T SIM cards to no avail and then the postpaid AT&T store display SIM card triggered LTE -- Google internet searches show users mentioning AT&T looks at the IMEI number of your cell phone to arbitrarily cripple it and you have to "trick" the network to allow LTE on your phone.

    Finally, I went back to T-Mobile last week as even with the phone showing LTE the cell phone call quality was terrible on AT&T Prepaid over these couple of months -- this could be due to a multitude of factors (including my cell reception signal strength being around -100 dBm) but AT&T Prepaid does not support HD Voice which didn't help.

    Now I am back with T-Mobile Prepaid and with the same cell reception signal strength as AT&T Prepaid the calls are clear again since T-Mobile supports HD Voice on unlocked phones even on prepaid.

    Here is a ZDNET article showing unlocked Google Pixel 4s do not support HD Voice on AT&T's network:

    www (dot) zdnet (dot) com/article/undoing-my-1000-mistake-why-im-returning-the-pixel-4xl-to-google/

    (howardforums is not letting post links hence why I had to type the above like that)

    Besides not supporting HD Voice AT&T should play nice and always support LTE on unlocked phones....
    VOLTE worked on my S10+ when I used it on att.

    Sent from my SM-G975U1 using Tapatalk

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    I didn’t have any problems getting LTE on AT&T prepaid on my Nexus 5 as far back as 2014. My S8+ and S10e also accepted an AT&T prepaid SIM with no qualms.


    Sent from my iPhone using HoFo

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    wfgarnett3, I think you missed something in your analysis. Please check out the phone specs here https://www.gsmarena.com/motorola_moto_z2_play-8674.php.

    According to the information provided, that device lacks VOLTE (aka HD-Voice). Assuming that the correct data (LTE) frequencies are supported in your market, the phone does have LTE for data only and uses GSM for voice. Did you consider that ?
    Just another day in paradise.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serial Port View Post
    wfgarnett3, I think you missed something in your analysis. Please check out the phone specs here https://www.gsmarena.com/motorola_moto_z2_play-8674.php.

    According to the information provided, that device lacks VOLTE (aka HD-Voice). Assuming that the correct data (LTE) frequencies are supported in your market, the phone does have LTE for data only and uses GSM for voice. Did you consider that ?
    The OP isn’t wrong.

    I just left AT&T prepaid after a few years, even though I had a really cheap unlimited plan, because they wouldn’t let me use VoLTE on my Note 10+ which definitely supports all the bands and protocols needed.

    Everything works fine on T-Mobile and Verizon, so not sure what AT&T’s problem is. 3G voice is fine where the signal is strong, but there are a lot of places it just doesn’t reach nowadays and it makes many good phones useless to use on AT&T.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Serial Port View Post
    wfgarnett3, I think you missed something in your analysis. Please check out the phone specs here https://www.gsmarena.com/motorola_moto_z2_play-8674.php.

    According to the information provided, that device lacks VOLTE (aka HD-Voice). Assuming that the correct data (LTE) frequencies are supported in your market, the phone does have LTE for data only and uses GSM for voice. Did you consider that ?
    The phone worked fine on T-Mobile Prepaid and showed the HD Voice indicator on calls I initiated.

    Since the phone supports all the necessary frequencies for both AT&T and T-Mobile, why would VoLTE work on one carrier but not the other?

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    Hmm this is interesting. Well I just moved over to AT&T prepaid from Straight Talk and VoLTE works fine on my Pixel 3a. I'm not sure why they would still be doing this. I live by an AT&T tower and I was on the AT&T side of ST but wasn't getting VoLTE. I get better overall signal still on LTE vs H+ even being this close to the tower. In certain spots in the house I drop to 4 out of 5 bars but that's to be expected indoors.

    Sent from my Pixel 3a XL using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by wfgarnett3 View Post
    The phone worked fine on T-Mobile Prepaid and showed the HD Voice indicator on calls I initiated.

    Since the phone supports all the necessary frequencies for both AT&T and T-Mobile, why would VoLTE work on one carrier but not the other?
    Just a shot in the dark but I stumbled across this https://www.howardforums.com/showthr...1#post17135041 and maybe it has to do with the various carriers having a different interpretation of initial VoLTE standard and since that Motorola was from 2017 it might not have supported AT&T’s “flavor” but did support T-Mobile’s?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jakeuten View Post
    I didn’t have any problems getting LTE on AT&T prepaid on my Nexus 5 as far back as 2014. My S8+ and S10e also accepted an AT&T prepaid SIM with no qualms.


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    LTE for data doesn't mean that you have VoLTE. More modern phones are more likely to support it.
    iPhone 11 is my current primary phone. But I have more phones than lines. Back to only Prepaid with the changes in the economy.

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    Unfortunately, there isn't a standardized volte. Each carrier has its own set-up. I know that some phones will work if you trick the system into thinking it's an at&t branded phone, or an approved unlocked phone, but if it wasn't tested by at&t, it'll be blocked. Android 10 on many unlocked phones, seems to have corrected this, as the csc for many carriers is preloaded and installs when the sim is inserted.

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    Sorry but issue is the cheap phone you are using, I used att prepaid with unlocked phones and never had an issues with lte not once, Then again none of my phones are budget, s10, pixel 4xl,iphone xr

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    All the budget phones I have used on ATT have sounded just fine with HSPA. The only issue I had is call connection time, especially with a weak signal. Not sure if this is an ATT issue, or because I use Red Pocket GSMA?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Rules View Post
    All the budget phones I have used on ATT have sounded just fine with HSPA. The only issue I had is call connection time, especially with a weak signal. Not sure if this is an ATT issue, or because I use Red Pocket GSMA?
    I thought HSPA sounded fine too but VoLTE was definitely a step up. HD voice is a great feature and I'm honestly surprised it hasn't become universal yet. These networks aren't gonna have a choice once 3G is shut down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Rules View Post
    All the budget phones I have used on ATT have sounded just fine with HSPA. The only issue I had is call connection time, especially with a weak signal. Not sure if this is an ATT issue, or because I use Red Pocket GSMA?
    The voice quality of HSPA is fine for most purposes. The disadvantage of no VoLTE is that the 3G coverage is slowly degrading. So you may have data, but no voice.

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