Phone has full signal but I can't use the internet

  • 23 June 2019
  • 69 replies


For the past few months I have been trying to resolve this issue with my T-Mobile service:

1.  Phone shows 3-4 bars of LTE, but the internet won't work

2.  My co-workers with T-Mobile are not experiencing any issues and they sit right next to me.

3.  When I'm with my spouse, their phone will work fine and mine won't

4.  I have tried turning WiFi off, resetting network settings, using a different phone - nothing resolves the issue

5.  I have called T-Mobile multiple times about the issue and the technician just tells me to reset my network settings or they send a device reset signal to my phone and it starts working again, but only temporarily

6.  I've ruled out the device and location at this point, so what else is their to test?

7.  Sometimes when I make calls, the device can't hang up and my phone locks up.  This has happened on 2 separate devices.  I have to do a force shutdown/restart.

Device:  iPhone XR, updated to the latest version of iOS.

A side note:  Why do I have to reset my network settings constantly?  Shouldn't my connection just work properly most of the time?

Thanks for any help, I am out of things I can try on my end.


Best answer by tmo_chris 1 July 2019, 17:45

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69 replies

I'm curious if you are using a VPN.

Something I just noticed with my new iPhone.  I've noticed this on hotel wifi at the moment.  It may be happening on mobile network and I haven't made the correlation yet.  What is happening is I'll notice I'm connected but there is no data throughput.  For example loading a web page in the browser will stall.  First thing I did was turn off wifi and turn it back on.  I think that corrected the data throughput issue.  Second thing I tried was going to the VPN (PIA) settings, manage network, and triggering a re-connection.  That also fixed the problem.  I didn't try turning the VPN off for a while and seeing if the throughput issue would occur again while the VPN is off.

Just For What It's Worth.

I strongly doubt there is a problem with the phone, at least not the hardware and OS, especially since you experience this problem on two phones.

See my question elsewhere in the thread about VPN.

There may not be a problem with the phone, not exactly, but maybe a conflict with other software you are running, such as perhaps a VPN.  What is common between your phone and the other phone you used for testing?  Again, VPN would be my top suspect.

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The area code being an issue is b/s.  The IMEI in the system being incorrect is more than likely the issue or a part of it.  If the system isn't recognizing your device correctly, then problems do happen.  Things like this are common for those who switch from iPhone or Android devices and vice versa but did so usually with a device not sold to them by T-Mobile.  iPhone and Android devices are provisioned differently on the backend.  The incorrect IMEI might potentially have the network identifying the device as something I isn't.

No VPN.  Unfortunately the problem hasn’t been resolved and I don’t think it will be.  Once my unlock request is processed, I’m going to see what my options are.  I really appreciate all the help everyone has offered on here.

Both the phones were purchased through T-Mobile, so I wouldn’t have to deal with any issues like that, ironically.  I did have an unlocked Android phone when I first signed up, but that was years ago.  The service has been fine up until a few months ago. 

Sorry to hear.  I thought the IMEI issue was going to be it.  I'm stumped.  I'm back to thinking network, not device, not software, but I don't know what.

I'm hoping you get some TMO attention and someone who will delve into the problem.  I think there is an easy answer, it just takes the right question that no one has asked yet.

Best of luck

Userlevel 4

Hey @magenta9042319

You have definitely been through the ringer here 😥 After reading through this thread, it is my belief that the issue is kind of two parts, part network and part account. When our folks over the phone reset your network connection, it forces the SIM to re verify with the network and gives you access to the services you are provisioned for based on the account. After some time, when your SIM card goes to check again what it can and cannot do, something on the account side for your line specifically is telling it that it cannot access the internet or gets stuck when trying to do so and only by having a manual refresh by the teams on the phone will your SIM be able to correctly discern what your services should be.

With that said, I believe the best course of action here is to have a network support ticket opened up for this. It is important to let the person on the phone know that this issue is temporarily resolved with the network refresh but comes back. It would be worth noting the times/dates that you lose internet and the times/dates you get it back after the network refresh. Please call us again when you have a moment and let the folks on the phone know that you have called a few times for this and the fix is only temporary.

This is the EXACT same issue I’ve been having for 3 months. I don’t know why I’m still troubleshooting it. was your issue ever solved???

I started having this issue about 6 weeks ago.  But, the problem is ONLY at my house. I have called every single week and opened a new ticket. We have done all of the troubleshooting. I have been sent TWO LTE signal boosters, neither of them pick up any service at all.  I have three devices, none of them have any data working on them at the house. I am getting 4 bars of LTE but can't even check my emails, open social media, send an iMessage....nothing. The second I leave my property everything works fine. I have three teenagers who can't even do their homework at home because our hotspots were our internet for their Chromebooks. I cancelled my internet because this WAS working so well. I NEED internet and I am about to have to leave TMobile to go find it. I can't afford $200 for phones and another $80-100 for internet. This was supposed to work. It needs resolved. 

When you cancelled your Internet service, did you leave your WiFi router running? Could your phones be connecting to a WiFi signal that isn't connecting to the Internet?

No, I had to send the internet equipment and router back to the company. Everything was still working after I sent it all back. The LTE booster won't even pick up one bar, but our phones say 4 bars of LTE (even though there's absolutely no LTE happening on our phones).

OK. My "try the easy things first" theory was that your phones might have been connecting to a disconnected WiFi signal and using that as an Internet connection. What make and model of phones are you using? Do any of them have a PING utility installed? Can you ping "" What is your echo time and packet loss? I suspect what may be happening is that you are picking up a low-band (700 or 600 MHz) signal but the signal is congested with too much use and thus very, very slow. Some models of T-Mobile's LTE booster don't have the 700 MHz band and (AFAIK) none of them have the 600 MHz band. This may be why your phones receive a signal but the booster doesn't. What's your Zip code?

We have two iPhone 11s and a brand new Alcatel tablet that serves as our hotspot. What is a PING utility? I can try that out if I know what that is. Also I'm not sure if they sent me the 700 Mhz LTE Booster or not. I know we are in a 600 MHz/5g area and the map shows I should have that, but at my house it isn't working. Inside or outside I have no data even if I am showing that I do. Over the holiday break I was home for two weeks and noticed that it worked better in the mornings but still wasn't fast enough to stream and only worked on my phone. My husband's phone and the tablet (our hotspot) wouldn't get enough data signal to use very well. My zip code is 72761.

PING is a network test utility that does an ICMP Echo Request to a designated address. It's a basic network diagnostic. Google is a good host to ping. Their main address is

I am just exasperated with no data for 3 months now but perfect cel phone signal. I can make calls and get sms, but ZERO data. I have called over 15 times, generated 3 technical tickets, spent hours with phone agents, supervisors, engineers. I travel across north america and they keep saying it can be the partner mobile operator in Mexico or Canada and wherever I go, it does not work, nowhere in North America. I have gone to the apple store to check settings are OK, the phone is OK, i have switched the Sim card to other phones and NOTHING works. Tmobile keeps saying now they just dont know what is happening, all my account seems fine. Please help, my colleagues and family are just even more exasperated than I am. They have lent me an At&t phone now to try to convince me to change. I am just baffled that in this day and age, Tmobile cannot figure this out.

Please help anybody!

The latest from TMobile is that we are situated in between two towers so we aren't picking up a strong signal from either of them. Which is stupid because we were doing just fine until they rolled out the 5G upgrade. Anyway, they said they have to do an upgrade to the towers and its in the works with no specified date of completion. So who the hell even knows what that means?? In the meantime, I have to figure out an internet provider and sign a two year contract. Isn't that lovely.

So you didn't try running a PING test?

Yes, I have run the ping test. I ran it three different times.

I had the following:

First:                              10 min later:         15 minutes more (last test)

Ping: 487 ms                    186 ms               n/a

Download.42 mb/s          .38 mb/s             0.0 

Upload: 0.0 mb/s             0.0 mb/s            n/a

Jitter: 32 ms                    32 ms                 n/a

Its definitely an inconsistent

All of these test were done with 3 bars of LTE showing on my phone.

What this shows is that you have an Internet connection but it is slow and unreliable. The combination of adequate signal strength combined with a slow, unreliable connection is generally diagnostic of sector congestion. This particularly applies when your phone is only receiving a 5x5 MHz, band-12 signal. The 0 Mbps upload also sugests that the tower is not getting the uplink signal from your phone.  Different phones report "bars" differently. Some base bars on the total signal path (up and down links) while others just use the downlink to indicate signal strength.

Okay. I have an iPhone 11. My biggest point of confusion is that it was all working perfectly until they upgraded the towers to "5G".  I thought that was supposed to make the data stronger and more reliable. Instead it all but disappeared. I have yet another phone appointment with another engineer tomorrow afternoon. I'm not sure what to say to them to help them understand this was all working until it was upgraded. They keep ignoring that fact.

I have the same problem here after I landed Japan two days ago. i travelled to Japan few month ago using the same sim and iPhone and there was no problem. But this time I have no internet connection but the signal bar is full. I called T-Mobile technical support. Spent too much time with them during my vacation. They have no clue what is happening. Can anyone help ???i

Same thing has happened to me. I switched from ATT to Tmobile about a year ago (purchased a new XR through tmobile at the time as well). Ever since I made the switch, i noticed that I'd always have 3-4 bars of LTE, with absolutely horrible signal pretty much everywhere. dropped calls, poor data signal strength altogether. Seriously, how can an iphone continuously show 3-4 bars of LTE, but have signal strength equivalent to about 0-1 bar? At one point, i genuinely thought there was a demon living in my phone, lying to me about how strong of a signal I had. and yes, i ran signal tests, ping tests, speedcheck, etc.

Been in communication with Tmobile all year, and have followed through the appropriate steps of getting this figured out. Tmobile has tried troubleshooting over the phone a few times, reset network settings etc. Weve also switched out my physical SIM card a couple times as well, same thing. As a last resort, Tmobile had me on an embedded SIM (no physical SIM), and that too was the same issue. I was still under the one year warranty, so i was directed to go to an Apple store to get my phone replaced (if Apple determines it is the phone that is an issue). That was a very eye opening visit to Apple, i'm glad i did it.

Apple ran their own diagnostics with hardware and software. I was given a new physical SIM card (that removed me from the embedded SIM that Tmobile put me on as the last resort mentioned above). once my physical SIM was active again, we did the full reset (having hardware mesh w software again): click volume Up, click volume Down, then hold down the on/off button until the Phone turns off on its own (do not swipe Off). once that was completed, the final test was to test out that SIM on a few other iPhones they had in store. about 4 iPhones later, it was clear that there was no demon living in my phone. its just that Tmobile doesnt have very strong signal strength. Apple even mentioned that "maybe it really is just the carrier, because all these iPhones indicate a consistent 2-bar signal strength with your SIM."

After that visit, I went home, picked up my kid from school, ran errands, went to work the next day, etc.; you know, the usual stuff. I noticed that at the same places that i had full bars at for the longest time all throughout 2019... all of a sudden, my un-demonized phone now shows 1 bar of LTE. in some areas, 2 bars. I don't live in the boonies, I live in the Bay Area. Currently at work (downtown SF) -- signal strength had always been poor (though it always showed 3 bars here). Interestingly enough, after that Apple visit, my phone is pretty consistent at work now indicating 1-2 bars, averaging a download/upload speed of 2Mbps/11Mbps.

I have no idea what kind of diagnostics Apple did to my phone, but my XR no longer lies to me lol. Apple connected my phone to their iPad for review & troubleshooting, and somehow that got my phone to reset its lying self and finally show its TRUE signal strength. Now i'm questioning it... does Tmobile do something to their phones that showcases good signal strength when we initially sign up? my only recommendation for anyone having this issue is to go to Apple and have them run a diagnostic using their systems.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you guys have any luck getting a legitimate answer from Tmobile. Personally, at the end of the day, I thinking... Tmobile is just on a really low bandwidth. Really sad though since Tmobile prides itself on having the highest coverage in comparison to other carriers. might be a good idea to disclose "highest coverage of low bandwidth" to consumers moving forward.

I have had the same issue -iPhone XR has full bars LTE signal, phone and texting works but no internet or data. It works temporarily when Tmobile customer service resends a neurotic signal to my phone. But then after a day or so it stops working. I had a new SIM card installed and that didn’t fix the problem either. But I think I figured out the problem. I have a secure VPN on my phone -and when I turn the vpn off, my data started working. So for some reason Tmobile is not compatible with express VPN. 

i just visited a T-Mobile store.  The clerk at the store did some diagnostics which sounds to be plausible.  On iPhone devices, with the latest OS versions of 14.x, as far as I know, now comes with a VPN option that can be turned on while you are connected to a WiFi.  To tell the truth, I am not really sure when the VPN option was really introduced to iOS users. But some WiFi connections are not always said to be secure.  This VPN option is turned on, via your device settings, to make your session more secure and to maybe mask your IP address on the internet.  All well and good.


But when you leave that WiFi connection, and then you attempt to surf the web for information, all of the sudden your browser stops sending completed searches to your device.  Although you can send and receive texts to and from people,  if there is an image passed through the text message, the image has a hard time trying to transfer the data to you.  I was always having to shutdown my phone.  Leave it off for 30 to 60 seconds.  Then restart the phone.  Then after my phone has restarted, the internet browsing starts to work again.  When I check my settings, at this time, without any WiFi connection, the VPN option is disabled.


I began to put two things together.  While you are using a WiFi, you can enable VPN to help keep your internet connection private.  But even if you turn off the WiFi option or if you leave the WiFi connection area, the VPN option is still on.  You need to turn off the VPN option.  Because with the VPN option on, it is still trying to access that WiFi connection that you were terminated from by turning off the WiFi or by leaving the WiFi communication area.


So, the end of the story is turn off VPN to allow your cellular data on your phone or tablet to freely communicate with the internet.  But remember, if you are not paying for cellular data for your device, the only option for you is stay connected to a WiFi connection.


Thanks for reading.


Does anyone have the same issue with me, it happened last week Wednesday. My iPhone 12 pro can make phone calls, can send messages to other guys, but NO data. My data plan is unlimited. The signal bar is 5G, but no network.