HTC admits customers have Nexus One 3G trouble, not yet blaming the phone

If samples from customer support threads are an accurate indicator, hundreds and perhaps thousands of early adopters of Google's Nexus One phone aren't looking for humanity from some pinstripe or tapered edges, so much as from customer support.

A spokesperson for HTC, the manufacturer of the Nexus One phone sold by Google and deployed thus far on T-Mobile's GSM network, told Betanews late Monday evening that it is aware of the magnitude of 3G connectivity problems reported by customers nationwide since last week. As of Monday evening, several hundred messages were posted to Google's support Web site, many reporting essentially the same problem: For the most part, their 3G connections are spotty and variable; and for some, 3G is non-existent.

Contrary to reports, however, HTC is not acknowledging a problem with the phone. As of now, the T-Mobile network remains equally suspect, especially amid the complete lack of much news whatsoever, including to its customers, from Google.

"While the majority of Nexus One owners have been thrilled with their experience, HTC is aware that some owners have reported having some technical issues with their Nexus One devices," the spokesperson told Betanews. HTC, Google, and T-Mobile take all such reports very seriously, and are working closely together to determine what issues may be behind these reports."

Late Monday morning, T-Mobile's customer support site did include a thread started by support personnel, who appeared to be actively interested in collecting information on the problem. "Let's see what we can learn about this," the thread began. "Maybe we can uncover some commonalities among those experiencing issues."

But although blogs today reported that this thread was an admission of problems with T-Mobile's network, actually, T-Mobile made no such admission. It merely acknowledged the issue and its personnel (unlike Google's) are interacting with customers in search of a resolution.

Customers who did manage to get through to HTC support personnel report having been told that a software patch of some sort is in the works; some who received that message last week were told they would receive a patch as soon as today. It does not appear certain that such a patch, if it exists, specifically addresses this problem.

All that Google will say on the subject is as follows: "We are investigating this issue and hope to have more information for you soon. We understand your concern and appreciate your patience."

Nexus One is far from the first smartphone with 3G problems in the early going. The first US-based Apple iPhone 3G models were plagued with network trouble initially, as was the BlackBerry Bold 9000 -- both on the AT&T network. Early troubles with the BlackBerry Storm on the Verizon Wireless network were traced back to the phone.

Some information from Nexus One early adopters tends to point toward the network, not the phone, as the possible culprit. One fellow reports having swapped SIM cards with a friend with an iPhone, and immediately receiving faster 2G EDGE service from AT&T on Nexus One than 3G service from T-Mobile. Another customer who also owns a T-Mobile G1 noted similar 3G connectivity problems on both the G1 and the Nexus One, since last Tuesday when Nexus One was launched.

One story indicative not only of customers' problems but of their bewilderment over the lack of an obvious solution, comes from user scotty1024, who works in Redmond, Washington, just blocks from the Microsoft campus. "This morning I went into a conference room and no one else had shown up yet so I killed time in the Amazon MP3 store. The phone kept telling me it lost connection and to press here to retry. You'd retry and it would flip to Edge and I was able to pull up lists of titles. But about 2 minutes later it would flip back into non-working 3G and kill the connection. Spin, wash, repeat."

One would think, scotty1024 goes on, that the phone would be smart enough to route calls via Wi-Fi using Google Voice when 3G service goes dead.

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