For some time now, anyone with their ears open will have heard of the “lock out” problem that is supposedly attributed to a 2G/3G handover issue on Meteor Ireland’s network for all users of the HTC Hero. Now when Meteor became the first Irish operator to launch an Android device last year (i.e. the Hero) they attracted a great deal of interest, myself included. I gave up all my beliefs about not paying monthly subscriptions, ditched my O2 prepay account and signed up for an 18 month contract. Since then there has been an array of issues all attributable to the Meteor network such as port blocking preventing some applications from running as advertised and the simply unbearable “lock out” issue.
The “lock out” issue can affect users of the handset anywhere up to 10 times a day on average. Basically what happens is that the phone drops signal and will not, no matter how long left alone, reconnect to the network. The only way of doing so is to reboot the phone or the faster route is to enter flight mode and then exit flight mode to re-register with the network. I have had friends verify that this is not an issue on other networks, trawling the web seems to throw up nothing in other countries but the Meteor forum is burning with rage about this issue. Some users are apparently being told that the problem will be fixed when the Hero is upgraded to Android 2.1 however, I can unequivocally say that this is not the case as I have been testing for a while now with a “rooted” Hero, running Android 2.1 and the latest radio firmware and I still experience the problem. For example, yesterday I had to cycle flight mode on my phone 6 times.
Normal people don’t check their phone every 5 minutes to see if they have a signal and as such this issue means that so many people are potentially going for the majority of the day without a signal on their Hero; paying for a service that they are not receiving. I can only imagine that this is going to turn ugly for Meteor and will no doubt be a PR disaster as currently, at least in my correspondence and the anecdotal sources on the Meteor forum, the company is not doing anything to appease the affected users and customer care agents are giving wrong information about Android updates solving the problem.
Here’s a video I made this morning of the “lock out” symptom and temporary solution of flight mode cycling.