What are the most common problems experience with cell phones?  As a technical support rep with AT&T I get calls every day with numerous issues, some are original but most are the same thing over and over again.  Below are some of the most common problems i get and the fix:

1.  I cannot send text messages but I can receive them:  This is normally an easy fix and it stems from the “Message Center Number” that is stored in the phone being incorrect.  Most phones will allow you to change this and the setting is located, usually, within the text messaging settings.  AT&T uses one message center number which is +13123149810.  The + is important and must be used for your text to work properly.  On the rare ocassions that correcting this information in the device does not correct the issue you will have to call technical support to have the provisioning on AT&T side checked.

2.  When I hold the 1 key down to access my voicemail it asks me to insert a voice mail number:  Again, this is caused by a programming error in the device itself, this time the number is called a retreival number or pilot number.  This setting is found in the voicemail settings and if not correct will cause this issue.  the number varies depending on which platform you are on so simply using the same one that someone else has in their phone may not work.  To find which retreival number should be in your phone you will need to contact customer service.  Another fix, in most cases, is to simply change the pilot numer to your own 10 digit number, though this does not work all the time.

4.  When I dial a number I get the message “Cannot be completed as dialed.” message:  This usually stems from not dialing the area code and number.  It is very important, no matter where or who you are calling, that you dial area code and number, even if you’re calling your next door neighbor.  This is an FCC regulation, not an AT&T rule.  Sometimes dialing 7 digits may work but that will not be true for long.  Even land lines are slowly beginning to require 10 digit dialing, even for local calls.

5.  When I make a call I get an error message saying “Network Busy”:   This error is exactly what it sounds like.  the network is bogged down and cannot take another call.  each tower can hold X amount of calls at one time, when that number is reached, you will get this message.  The only thing you can do is keep trying.  This usually occurs when a tower in your area is down and another tower is picking up the slack, which causes it to exceed its call limit.  It also happens at certain times of the evening when call volumes are at their highest.  There is nothing wrong with your phone.  Powering your phone off and on again may cause your phone to pull from a different tower, thus relieving the problem.

6.   I get no service indoors but get fine coverage when I go outside:  Unfortunately, indoor coverage is not guaranteed and we cannot troubleshoot it, even if it worked in the past.  There are too many variables including what the building is made out of, electronics in the home that might interfere with signal, internal wiring and any number of things that can prevent indoor signal.  I know this is frustrating but this is not an issue that anyone can fix.

7.  I always drop my calls when i get to a certain point while driving:  There will always be “dead zones” or specific areas where coverage just is not adequate.  For me, I know when I get near the police station, my call will drop and i plan for that.  Once I get past that point, my signal comes back.  Signals are not 100% and there will be places, even within best coverage areas, where the signal just is not strong enough.

8.  I cannot get service on my cell phone but all other AT&T customers I know can:  This indicates a problem with either your cell phone or the SIM card.  To find out, put your SIM card in another AT&T phone, if the issue follows your SIM card it will need to be replaced.  If the issue stays with the device then it will need to be replaced.  All new devices come with a 1 year warrenty.  As long as there is no physical or water damage, the phone can be replaced at no charge within that time.

9.  I have a non-AT&T cell phone that is unlocked and I cannot access the internet:  This is a common problem with unlocked devices and we cannot, for liability reasons, help you with this.  Go to www.wireless.att.com and look for “Device Tutorial” to get the data settings that are needed to access the network.  You will then need to manually enter those settings into your device.  AT&T does not guarantee that data will work with unlocked phones, or even voice for that matter.

10.  I keep dropping calls everywhere, all the time:  This is probably the most difficult problem to troubleshoot.  You should call technical support so we may check your device, our network and other settings.  Usually we will have to create a case to send to our engineers to have this issue resolved.  To make things easier, try to note when and where the problem occurs, give as much information as possible, including cross streets, time of day, indoors/outdoors, were you in your car, etc.  the more information you have the better.

Probably the most annoying thing for us when a customer calls with a problem is when they call from the device they are having issues with.  We are severely limited in troubleshooting when you are talking on the problem phone.  Please call from another device so that you will be able to remove the battery, power cycle, access menus, etc. on the phone that is having issues.  Trust me on this, it will make things go allot smoother and the chances of getting your issue fixed right away will be much greater.

90% of problems can be fixed by simply turning your phone off and then right back on again.  Please try this before calling technical support.  If everyone in the area that you know is experiencing the same issues you are, it is likely that the problem is on the network, we already know about it and are working to fix it.  When a network issue occurs, alarms go off in out networking offices and engineers are dispatched immediatley.

I could go on and on but I will end this post here.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment.