Visible Pixel 6a and 5G

DavePinMinn
Intermediate

I'm one of the many who's phone was deemed "non-compatible", so I had to purchase a new one.  I selected a Pixel 6a because it's supposed to be 5G AND use C-Band.

I just activated it last night - at least I presume it's activated since I can make phone calls and connected the desktop computer to the pixel's hot spot.

I'm within 2 blocks of the local Verizon Store, and confirmed with them that we HAVE Verizon 5G here.

I've rebooted the phone a couple times, including a few minutes ago.

 

At the top of the phone it says "LTE".  When I swipe down and press "Internet" it says "Connected/LTE".

 

I found instructions for the Pixel 6a on Verizon.  It says to go into Settings, then Network & Internet, then SIMs, then tap "Preferred Network Type", and select 5G.

I don't see anything like "Preferred Network Type" in Sims.  In the "Network" section it says "Automatically select network", which is on.  Below that it has "Choose network" greyed out with the word Visible.  Turn OFF Automatically select network goes to a screen to select a network, but it's choices of Visible, which says connected, and AT&T, FirstNet, T-Mobile and Sprint.  NOTHING about selecting 5G.

 

What do I need to do with this phone to make it USE the 5G we're supposed to have?

 

 

 

26 REPLIES 26

DavePinMinn
Intermediate

Update:  It's getting worse...

 

I had an INCREDIBLY long chat with Visible support (we’re well past the 2 ½ hour mark).  She claimed that Visible is “different” and that the procedures Verizon and T-Mobile use to enable 5G won’t work.  She had me shut the phone down, wait 60 seconds, reboot, put the phone in airplane mode, wait 60 seconds, turn off airplane mode, then make a phone call.  LTE sat next to the bar display.  She went off and did something.

Repeat.  She went off and did something again.  Repeat at least 2 or 3 more times.

 

Not sure what’s happening on THEIR end, but on mine the LTE just keeps coming back.

 

Phone WANTED to update to Android 13, which I wasn’t going to do ‘til everything was working, but she had me do the update, figuring THIS would make it work.  Another hour or so and the phone is updated.

 

Tried AGAIN, same result.

 

She finally stated she’s done everything that she can do.  Thinks maybe the Visible Pixel 6a that I received, that’s supposed to be 5G, doesn’t actually DO 5G. 

 

Somebody is supposed to contact me by email “in a few hours”?

 

ANYBODY in here got ANY reasonable ideas?  'Cause this is NOT filling me with confidence in Visible.

BobT
Superuser
Superuser

Some carriers (including Visible) are locking down network settings to prevent users from changing them. In Visible's case, I've never been able to modify preferred network type or APN on my Samsung phones since a fairly recent update.

Carriers now want to control their networks it appears.

In my case, I'd actually prefer to disable 5G since I'm in a weak signal area and the constant searching and changing between LTE and 5G drains my battery and 5G is weak - I'm much better off when I'm on the stronger 4G LTE signal.

 

Previously I was able to change the preferred network type using the phone dialer:

  1. Dial ##4636##
  2. Choose "Phone Information"
  3. Go to bottom
  4. Choose preferred Network Type on menu

But even this doesn't work any longer on my Samsung phone(s). Fortunately for me at least, an Oct patch to Android 13 appears to have resolved my issue in that 5G hasn't reared it's ugly head except when I'm out on the road where signal's better and 4G LTE is now being selected at home. 5G isn't always the best option even if available. Signal strength and quality are better determining factors. For me at least 5G isn't all it's cracked up to be out on the edge of the coverage area.

 

 

 

Thanks for the reply, though I'm baffled about what it means...  I have a new 5G phone and I'm in an area that Verizon (the store) SAYS has 5G.  The phone, sold BY Visible with a BIG 5G on it, SAYS it does 5G.  The one I have appears NOT to even allow SELECTING 5G (from wherever and however that would happen).  Even the support person at Visible said it SHOULD have 5G.  I'm not sure why I'd change an APN or anything else, I just want the overpriced product (by a significant amount) I purchased FROM Visible specifically to AVOID the games and name calling and excuses that "it wasn't bought from us" would give Visible, to WORK as advertised.

The only option I can see other than Visible has a problem is if I'm in that 1, 10 square foot block where there's magically no 5G in a sea of 5G.  Which I suspect is where they'll go next.

It's likely that 5G is enabled by default. What it means is that just because 5G is enabled doesn't mean that the phone will select a 5G band/frequency. If multiple bands are available, then the phone will likely select the best quality based on a number of factors such as signal power, receive quality, signal strength as well as how loaded those bands/frequencies may be. 5G is not always the best selection as in my case.  In addition although Visible is powered by Verizon we receive lower priority on their network than Verizon customer as well as even other Verizon MVNOs - we're at the bottom of the pecking order. This is the bargain basement.

In the past, we could enable or disable 5G on a 5G phone - we could even specify exact bands or frequencies to use. Now it's automatic as to what will be selected as the phone makers disallow us from controlling our own phones - even if unlocked.

My experience with Visible's support chat is that it's pretty much useless when it comes to technical issues if you're new to Visible.

There are some apps like Cell Mapper and Cell Info Lite that show what bands/frequencies and cells are available that might provide some insight as to why LTE is being chosen over 5G.

Then what was the purpose in spending hours on a support chat if there's NOTHING that can be done to ensure the phone actually USES the 5G?  And, IN THEORY, I'm going to be receiving an email "in a COUPLE hours" (which was already 3 hours ago) from some nebulous group of Visible experts who will do SOMETHING.

 

And yeah, I'm very aware of the bottom-of-the-barrel status Visible gets.  Today, while on the phone with support they had me run periodic speed tests.  It varies drastically from minute to minute, in this case from about 8.5 Mb/s to 34 Mb/s, and now that it's after 5 pm its down to around 3 and will continue dropping.  It's never good, mostly mediocre, and periodically unusable, but it's cheap as long as you don't actually NEED it to work.

 

I'd sure hope if this phone can do 5G, it would surely do better than this.

 

"Then what was the purpose in spending hours on a support chat if there's NOTHING that can be done to ensure the phone actually USES the 5G?"

 

Hours?  Try spending weeks just getting a SIM to activate like I did. Like I said just because a phone is 5G compatible doesn't mean it's going to select 5G cell if others are available. Don't shoot the messenger. This sums up my feelings about Visible:

https://community.visible.com/t5/Need-help/Caveat-Emptor/td-p/25032

 

I absolutely agree with you - it was a serious question, not intended as a "shoot the messenger"...

My feelings about Visible match yours - I've always said it mostly works, most of the time.  Never great, almost never good, usually adequate if you don't need reliable bandwidth, and sometimes dreadful.  It's ok as long as you don't NEED it.

Unfortunately, IMO, their success is what's killing things.  They've advertised all over the place and have so many people are taking the bottom-of-the-barrel data, that a lot more people are seeing increasingly poor performance.

But as long as you don't need reliable performance, it's reasonably cheap.

 

ZipperDrive
Novice III

First off, make sure Battery Saver isn't enabled because that limits the network selection to LTE.

Although 5G is available in your location, it may not be the case that your closest cell site was upgraded to support 5G. Try driving around to a different location, or even go inside the Verizon store and check whether their demo devices are connected to 5G. Sometimes, I get 5G when I'm one direction from the cell site but I get LTE when I'm positioned at a different angle from the same cell site....likely because the radios aren't pointing in my direction. If you're using a physical SIM, you can also try putting it in a different 5G capable phone to check.

According to the settings, "Use Battery Saver" is OFF.  BUT, on another line, it says the battery saver will turn on at 10%... 

That's my plan for tomorrow - go the 2 blocks over to the Verizon store and see if the phone thinks there's 5G there - the person I talked to today said, "Yeah, ALL our 5G phones are seeing 5G here."  But, of course, Visible still has the handy excuse that "fer real" Verizon phones are treated differently than Visible phones since Visible is the bottom-of-the-barrel data. 

 

But, yeah, I'm going over and stand outside and inside and see if this phone thinks there's 5G. 

Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of 5G capable phones around.

 

Equally unfortunately, I also have to replace my wife's phone since hers was ALSO deemed "non compliant".  After the experience with this Pixel, she's now dreading the very idea.  And she's now stated that her replacement will NOT be a Pixel.

 

I realize now why others make a habit of putting a new phone on a new plan with a new account while keeping the OLD plan functional 'til they're sure the new phone doesn't have "issues"... 

 

I don't think AT&T is any better underneath the surface, but if they'd come out with an equivalent plan, and provide even the bare MINIMUM of onshore, human support, I suspect they'd have a lot of business. 

What phone does your wife have?

 

Even though your existing device is deemed non-compliant, you can just say you have an iPhone SE or something and get a physical SIM card without entering an IMEI number. As long as your device is a moderately new and supports Verizon's frequencies, then you can just put the new SIM in whatever phone you want and configure the APN settings if they aren't there already. Unlike some carriers like TracFone (which is also owned by Verizon), Visible is very lenient with swapping SIMs between phones.

She has the same one I had/have - a Motorola Moto G7 Power. 

She relies on her phone for staying in contact with family, offspring, a bunch of other stuff, far more than I do mine.  So, for her it's critical that the phone be available and usable for phone, messages and normal things like that.

She occasionally has to use hers for data if we're traveling, but not nearly as much as I do with mine.

Having now seen 5G in action (I'll post that separately), I don't see any point in getting her a C-Band phone, and it won't be a Pixel, so I was thinking one of the Motorola 5G phones.

Neither of us cares at all about the camera quality, so that's not a factor.

Today I took the Pixel 6a outside.  Went to the local Verizon store where they claimed to have FANTASTIC 5G on EVERYTHING. 

And indeed, when I was in the lot, after shutting the phone down for 60 seconds, rebooting, going into airplane mode for 60 seconds, turning that off, and making a phone call home, THE 5G THING SHOWED UP.

 

Elated, I immediately fired up Chrome and speed test to see what massively improved data speeds I'd get.  I figured since 4G is pretty anemic on Visible, and everyone keeps posting huge numbers for their 5G service, it would be significant...

.9 Mb/s......  SLOWER than the 4G, which may get up to 6 - 8 Mb/s at times, though less if there's another person on the network.

Had to run some errands, so kept an eye on signal strength.  Within 500 feet, 5G gone and back to LTE.  Stayed gone for a half mile then came back but with no or 1 bar. 

At one location I had 4 bars and figured NOW IT'LL IMPRESS ME...  Chrome - .8 Mb/s download but 6 Mb/s upload.

So, is the whole 5G thing just useful in the middle of Manhattan or is it just like this on Visible?

 

It seems to me you're in a heavily congested area. 5G Nationwide and LTE are pretty much equivalent. I'm guessing you upgraded to the new $30 plan and you're receiving that low speeds, because you are being deprioritized.  The $30 plan does not officially offer 5G UW. HOWEVER, your device will still connect to C-Band but your speeds will be capped at 200Mbps. Based on how you said you were getting 0.6Mbps, I'm gonna say you were not connected to C-Band.

Also, Verizon 5G Nationwide and LTE are basically equivalent, i.e they are not the best. Verizon's congestion can get really bad.... and you mention that you were in a parking lot, which I would assume means a lot of people are connected to the same cell site. 

I'm in the Mid Atlantic so I'm basically roaming around NYC and NJ. I'm also on the $45 plan which has consistently given me around 250 - 350 Mbps when connected to 5G UW (C-band) on the Pixel 7 Pro. 5G UW is not always deployed at every cell site near me even though the coverage map claims my whole location with 5G UW.

You could try the $45 plan for a month to see if the condition improves, If not and you're fine with the $30 plan, you can revert back to that after the month. If you're still dissatisfied, then I guess, you may have to look for a carrier on a different mobile network.

 

Actually, I'm in a town of fewer than 20,000 people, about 40 or so miles from Minneapolis.  At midday.  So there (normally) shouldn't be a lot of people sitting at home streaming and doing whatever. And I don't imagine a lot of local businesses are on Visible competing for the bottom-of-the-barrel data.

 

The parking lot was 4 cars in front of the Verizon store.

 

As far as C-Band or UW or whatever the phone is connecting to, I have no idea, and I'm not sure the phone tells me or that I have any ability to configure it.  I got a 5G, about 2 bars, and less than 1 Mb/s.

 

The kind of numbers you're indicating are what I typically see in posts.  Nobody ever posts that their 5G phone is providing .6 or .8 Mb/s.  It's always at least 150 or higher, and I'm SURE not seeing that here.  I'd be giddy if the pitiful thing could hit 20% of what you're getting.

 

I've been with Visible for a while, so I'd say I'm disappointed but not surprised rather than dissatisfied.  It's Visible.  Rarely good, mostly adequate as long as your expectations aren't set by the people getting 200 Mb/s, and sometimes so poor its unusable.  It appears that even with 5G that's not going to change.

 

I suspect my experience is common for many people not in a large metro, and as long as I don't have to RELY on Visible, it's relatively cheap. 

 

It's needed more when traveling as campgrounds almost universally appear to have wi-fi from 1980.  Or none.  And even that doesn't appear to have been maintained or upgraded in this century.  At those times, it's a crap shoot whether it'll work adequately or not, but it's relatively cheap.

 

So, the good news is the phone appears to say it's doing what it's supposed to.  The bad news is performance sucks.

 

Fortunately, I wasn't d*mb (really? THATs a "bad word"?) enough to believe the hype to the point of buying a $1200 phone instead of a $350 one.

Verizon, as a network, has two priority levels for the general public. The base Visible plan gets the lowest priority. The Visible+ plan gets the highest priority upto 50GB on LTE. You aren't just competing for bandwidth with Visible subscribers, it's everyone who uses the Verizon network including their postpaid, prepaid, MVNOs such as TracFone, Xfinity Mobile, you name it. Verizon's LTE network gets congested pretty fast and considering you don't live in a populated area, I'm not sure how good the backhaul is at your cell sites. Hopefully Verizon comes in an eventually upgrades the cell sites near you

 

Well, it's not a problem any more.  Sunday afternoon, 5 DAYS after the phone arrived, I picked up the Pixel 6a, and it was on the Fastboot mode screen.  And it wasn't going ANYWHERE else.  Not on, not off, not booted, nothing.

Tried to get on to chat, and after another extended wait, got "Alex" who assured me he was "going to take care of me".

Went though all the stuff I'd already gone through and an hour and a half later, we all agreed the phone was dead.

This morning I contacted Google support - it was AWESOME...  Dialed the number and 10 SECONDS later I had a support expert on the phone.  We went through everything again and a whole bunch of things Visible DIDN'T try, and Google said "it's a brick".

SO, back to Visible.  ANOTHER chat and I found out if you have a brand new phone that's dead and need a replacement sent overnight "WE DON'T DO THAT."  Yup, if you have a problem, even at 5 days old, they just have you send it back and wait, by their estimate, about THREE WEEKS for the refund.  In the meantime YOU can go buy ANOTHER phone and it should be here in about a week - which was how long it took the pixel - ordered 11/28 arrived 12/5.

The support person then informed me the case would be "escalated to Tier II because they 'needed to investigate' " and "I'd be hearing from them sometime".  What are they "investigating"?  It's DEAD  Google SAYS it's dead.

Eventually a shipping label showed up, so the dead Pixel 6a can go back.

And I have to go buy another phone - and after reading some of the stories in the Google support forum about Pixel 6<anything> phones turning into bricks, I suspect it WON'T be a Pixel.

And with the responses in here about how generally not useful 5G is with Visible phones, I'm wondering if I should just buy something like a Blade X1 5G or Moto G UW Ace rather than spending extra money for C-Band if it's only going to be useful in the middle of Manhattan.

I was WRONG when I thought customer service COULDN'T get any less responsive.  They REFUSE to let me BUY a REPLACEMENT phone for the 5-day-old DEAD Pixel UNTIL the dead phone gets BACK TO THEM AND CHECKED IN........

Is there someplace these guys STUDIED to learn how to be the worst customer service possible?

 

Why don't you just put in your current SIM card in your old phone. Visible allows you to put the SIM card in whatever device you want as long as it's a mobile phone recognized by Verizon. Ignore what Visible says about the compatibility.

My OLD phone was deemed "non compliant" by Visible.  So, the days of putting a SIM in a different, OLD, phone are gone.  First thing I DID was put the new SIM in the old phone.  Worked for about 3 minutes, then no cell service, no nothing.  But, if somebody here can tell me HOW to get a non-compliant phone to work on this new plan with a SIM from a different phone, I'm all ears.

I'm considering creating a new account, buying a phone, and going that way.  I've got email addresses and credit cards.  My problem is what happens when I have to activate it?  I'd need to keep my current number, and that number is with Visible.  Am I going to run into a whole bunch of garbage from Visible and have trouble with the activation?

Not a lot of confidence in Visible people at this point other that figuring they're very good at being unresponsive and putting up barricades.

Do you currently have the new sim (which was provided for and worked with the Pixel 6a) inside the old phone?

Yes, in one of my umpteen chats with support, the person recommended I keep that.  Most likely the one where he informed me I couldn't replace the dead phone.

Do you have any signal bars?

No, it says "No cellular connection."

Had more chats.  Turns out, on Tuesday, one of the support people did something so I COULD order a replacement phone.  So I did.  And expected the normal confirmation and a phone to wing it's way to me overnight.

Nothing.

Another chat Wednesday, and THIS person CANCELLED the Tuesday order and had me order AGAIN.  And absolutely GUARANTEED ME he could SEE the order and it would ABSOLUTELY go through.  Waited again........

No confirmation email, no phone, NOTHING.

Thursday, another chat.  Cancelled, ordered, blather, blather, "no problems", babble, no confirmation.  Sometime around the 2 HOUR mark, he contacted the "technicians", yet another mythical group that doesn't speak, even by chat, directly to the peasants that pay.

OH, and EVERY TIME I place an order, I get the info screen that SAYS I've place it AND has the order number.

So, THEN, since apparently you CAN'T send an image with their chat, they had me open Facebook, go to he Visible page, and THERE I sent a screenshot of the most recent order.

For the next hour+, they (technicians through the chat person) had me REPEATEDLY place orders.  Different computer, different credit card, different bank, different whatever.  They tried very hard to blame the bank, the credit card, the computer, cosmic rays, whatever.

Nothing.

Eventually, "they" decided to "escalate this to the triage group", whatever that means.  And the guy I'd been chatting with for about 3.5 hours said, "Well, my shift is ending so I won't be taking any more chat calls".  And in response to my "you're going home in the middle of this and leaving me hanging?" 

Essentially, yes - the technicians and triage and unicorns would be "working on it".

End of chat.

So, Thursday ends with FIVE PHONES ON ORDER, and somebody going to "fix the problem". 

I DID get an email from a blind address at end of day on Friday, telling me they were "still working on it".  Then nothing.

At NO time from Tuesday through Friday, did anyone say something useful like "Well, it may take us an hour or day or week to fix this, so we're going to FORCE a phone through the system and get it to you."  Or anything even REMOTELY useful like that.

 

THEN, on Saturday, the problem was SOLVED!  Went out and bought two lines and got two phones (no extra charge), and ported our numbers to another provider.  And had ANOTHER chat to have a Visible support person cancel ALL the phones that were "on order" sitting there in "Pending" status.

Problem solved, and two more long-term customers no longer with Visible. 

 

Unfortunately, these don't have unlimited hotspot data, and cost more than Visible, but it's not bottom-of-the-barrel data, we both HAVE a phone, and my wife, who was going to have to replace HER phone too (thanks NEW plan), has returned to her normal, NON-homicidal state of mind.

Visible, of course, was VERY concerned with our leaving - I could tell 'cause the port-out email said "we're in the process of transferring your line to a new carrier".

Which carrier did you port to? US Mobile? They are the next best thing from Visible and offer more data (100GB vs 50GB) on their Unlimited Premium plan.

After Visible, I'm a little off on the third-party carriers.  We're trying T-Mobile, so if it sucks we'll dump it in the 15 day window.  The Home Internet, so far, is NOT a smashing success.  But, since we aren't having to dump $600 to $750 for the new Visible phones (only 1 with C-Band) we're being forced to buy, that savings covers the price difference for the whole 2 years of the contract.  And then some.