Verizon Wireless Galaxy Nexus is a Wi-Fi tethering lemon

Summary:Looking for a great smartphone and LTE 4G tethering combo? Forget the Galaxy Nexus.

verizon-lemon

So in case you guys have been wondering "Where the hell has Perlow been for an entire week?" the answer is "I've been moved."

Yes, I've packed up the New Jersey regional offices of Tech Broiler and trekked my way down to the Sunshine State, where I'll be resuming blogging and fanboy-tweaking operations in the frying summer heat of South Florida.

Florida. The land of retirees, great Cuban food and lots of citrus. As in lemons.

Unfortunately the lemons I'm referring to aren't the edible kind. They're of the technological variety. 

You see, right now I'm in-between homes and living in temporary housing, so I have been forced to rely on my Verizon 4G LTE service to get my broadband.

Historically, since I became a Verizon 4G customer, I have been very happy with my LTE Wi-Fi tethering. The Motorola Droid Bionic, my first LTE device, which I have since passed down to my wife was a very stable device for doing this.

But ever since I upgraded to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus back in December, Verizon's LTE tethering stability has been absolutely atrocious. The CDMA version of Galaxy Nexus as a whole has been a cranky device, hardware-wise, and I've generally been disappointed in it overall.

Also Read: The Radio Performance Disparity of the Galaxy Nexus on GSM and CDMA (Binary Outcast)

The Ice Cream Sandwich software on this so-called flagship Google Experience Android device has been dreadfully slow to get updated by Verizon due to its proprietary LTE software bits/drivers and has been rife with bugs.

Software applications as well as built-in Google apps crash constantly and the phone would simply reboot randomly.

At the moment, I'm already on my first replacement device since buying the unit back in December. Verizon had determined the 4G tranciever was defective and sent me a new unit just under a month ago, and we had hoped that would resolve the stability and connectivity issues.

Well, it didn't.

This week, my wife and I have been housed in an Extended Stay hotel in the Fort Lauderdale area, which is utterly saturated with 4G signal. Both my Nexus and her Bionic have full bars of 4G, so the speed and reception should be optimal.

In fact, the Speedtest.net application on the phones as well as on our Wi-Fi tethered devices (iPad, laptops) indicate a 19Megabit per second average transfer rate. This should be ideal for 4G Wi-Fi tethering, right?

Well, this is simply not the case. After connecting to the Nexus via Wi-Fi hotspot mode, the 4G connection simply locks up, or the signal just drops dead. When you attempt to re-start the hospot service, the provisioning process locks up and you have to reboot the phone. Every 15 minutes. Wash, rinse and repeat.

So of course I "did the needful" and called up Verizon's tech support, which of course is always experiencing "greater than expected" hold times. After a very long tech support call Friday night, and trying various solutions, it was determined that the 4G SIM card was defective and it needed to be replaced.

So the next day, I went into a Verizon corporate store and had the chip swapped out.

I got back to my hotel, and the same issues with the tethering re-appeared. I'm now at the point where I want to throw this Korean piece of junk against the wall.

So after having a hearty Sunday brunch, I went to the Verizon corporate store on North Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. Jocelyn, one of the customer service reps (and an absolute saint who should be promoted to a store manager) spent over an hour with me diagnosing the phone.

I asked if I could have my unlimited data plan transferred to a new device, a brand new Mi-Fi wireless access point, that I would be willing to pay full retail on.

The answer was no. Verizon considers unlimited data plans a "Smartphone Feature" and can only be used on a new smartphone device. I call foul on Big Red. If the customer wants to transfer a grandfathered plan to a device they are willing to pay for without a carrier subsidy, then they should allow it.

Jocelyn got on the phone with tech support for an hour herself, and had to wipe my device and test it with an in-store iPad to determine that the Nexus was faulty. In fact, every single Galaxy Nexus Verizon has sold has had broken tethering service since the Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4 update was rolled out several weeks ago.

Couldn't the store have been advised of this in some type of company memo or an entry into their support database before wasting everyone's time?

Apparently, a new Over-The-Air software update has been pushed out as of July 6 to address the issue. However, you can't force this update, you have to wait to get it. They can't even directly provision it at a Verizon store if you are experiencing this issue.

I wasted an well over an hour of my time on a Sunday when Verizon simply could have told me a forthcoming software update would fix it.

Now, one would think that the $20 per month tethering charge would be refunded until this issue was resolved. Jocelyn, sadly, did not have the authority to do this, and Verizon refuses to do it as well.

Well you know what I refuse to do? I refuse to reccommend Verizon Wireless's LTE service or their junk Samsung equipment until the company resolves this.

Has Verizon given you the run around with your Wi-Fi tethering woes on Android? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Verizon, Android, Mobile OS, Smartphones

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet is a technologist with over two decades of experience with integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer... Full Bio

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