Fixing broken LTE / 4G / 3G networking on Mediatek devices

Recently, after swapping SIM cards and then not being patient long enough to allow LTE to connect, I made the mistake of changing ‘Set preferred network type’ in Android settings. It was already selected on 4G, but I chose 3G thinking I could swap back to 4G and force it… but boy was I wrong!

For some reason, especially on UMI or UMIDIGI handsets, once you change this setting in a dual-SIM phone it ‘locks’ the network type and you’re unable to change it. For me, going back into that list would only ever show 3G. I couldn’t even see or select 2G.

I followed a guide to enter ‘Testing’ mode (entering *#*#4636#*#* in the dialler), then Phone Information, and using the dropdown under the statistics to change the network band. This does not work. The Mediatek background network service overrides this setting so it is useless.

But after searching forums for hours, I eventually found a solution, props to this post on Giffgaff forums.

  1. Open dialler
  2. Enter *#*#3646633#*#*
  3. Under Telephony tab, scroll to Network Selecting
  4. Choose the applicable SIM card number, if more than 1
  5. Select ‘4G/3G/2G(auto)’  as the network type
  6. Wait a moment for network to reconnect – fixed

Another useful hidden menu is ‘Testing’ mode, which is accessed through *#*#4636#*#*

Three / 3 / Hutchinson 3G data throttling, shoddy service

So today I attempted to download a sizable amount of data through my mobile data connection. What started off as a speedy and pleasant transfer turned in to a throttled nightmare.

Some background; I have Three’s ‘One Plan’ which sports “unlimited” mobile data and allows tethering. For those that don’t know, tethering is turning your mobile phone in to a modem (or WiFi router) so you can use its 3G connection on your laptop or tablet.

I’ll start by saying I’ve been otherwise thrilled with Three’s network and while they’ve had some network disruptions of late I seem to have thankfully dodged those. I moved away from Vodafone to Three in January after experiencing several unwelcomed price increases on my bill. I chose Three because of their “network built for data” and they’re the “fastest growing mobile network” which sounds promising, right?

I usually experience 3-5Mb/s over 3G almost everywhere I go. There’s never been a time where I’ve been short of bandwidth when using say Spotify or YouTube on the 3G connection. So today, my 350MB FTP data transfer started off at the usual 5Mb/s and lasted for about 100MB in. Then my speed dropped to 2Mb/s – still not too bad. When I hit 200MB, it’s a whole new story. How does (as little as) 0.1Mb/s sound to you?

After the data transfer had finally finished, any attempt to stream music via Spotify or YouTube (even 144p quality) failed miserably. I’ve never had to buffer a video in over 4 years… but thanks to Three’s idiotic trottling I’m now left with an 0.1Mb/s 3G connection. How long will this hideous throttling last, is it permanent?

I’m quite shocked to be classed as a heavy / excessive user through downloading a few hundred MB. Most months I’ll barely hit 1GB of usage and I know fine well this month I’ve not hit 200MB before starting this FTP transfer. I have to conclude, I simply cannot see how Three’s network is ‘built for data’ when they choke their customers for light usage. If this is how they operate, I SIMPLY CANNOT RECOMMEND THREE AND ADVISE YOU TO AVOID.