Troubleshoot mobile services
If you are having issues with your mobile internet or voice services, connection, here are some steps to try before calling your service provider.
This page applies to anything with an internal SIM card – mobile phones, cell-enabled devices such as iPads and tablets, and mobile broadband modems. A SIM card is a removable plastic card which contains a chip that lets you connect to your mobile provider to make calls, send texts, or use data.
It does not apply to mobile devices using a non-mobile internet connection. For example, using your iPhone over your home satellite connection.
Before running any tests, we suggest checking for any known network outages, if you have an alternative internet connection.
The most common issues with mobile voice and internet connections include:
- Low or no signal (“blackspots”)
- Signal dropouts
- Slow internet speeds
- No connection
- Unable to make or receive some or all calls or texts
- Unable to connect to the internet via mobile service
It’s a good idea to carefully do these tests and make detailed notes while you’re trying to find the cause of your problems.
If you’re testing your internet speeds, you might like to take screenshots or record the speed test results you get. If possible, use the speed tester recommended by your service provider.
If you do contact your provider, keep detailed notes and ticket numbers.
How to troubleshoot a mobile service
If you cannot complete one of the steps, then move to the next one.
1. Turn your phone, device, or mobile broadband modem off and on again
When troubleshooting mobile service connection issues, the first step is always to turn everything off and on again.
In the case of mobile devices, this means to power down your phone or tablet, not just lock the screen or put it to sleep.
If you’re using a mobile broadband modem for internet connectivity, also turn off anything connecting to that modem.
It is important to turn the devices off and on again in order.
We have information on how to shut down mobile devices on our Tech Tips pages:
To restart a mobile modem:
- Turn off ALL devices.
- Wait at least 5 minutes.
- Turn the devices on in order.
- Turn on the modem
- Wait until all the lights are on and indicate an active connection (this may take a few minutes).
- Then turn on all your other devices – e.g. computer, tablet, or phone.
- Check that all your devices can connect to the internet and are able to load websites.
2. Check your account
Log into your mobile account (if you can) or call your provider.
- That you’ve paid your bill. Many mobile providers will restrict outgoing access if your bill is overdue. If your bill is sent via email, check your junk mail folder.
- That you haven’t used all the data on your plan.
That you haven’t turned off or restricted the service you’re trying to use (for eg, premium text or phone numbers, or parental controls accessing certain websites)
3. Check for any network outages
To check for an outage, visit our network outage page.
All mobile services are ultimately provided through one of three carriers:
4. (Mobile broadband only) Plug computer directly into the modem
This depends on the kind of mobile broadband modem you have.
If there’s an ethernet port on your modem (for eg, Netgear Nighthawk), plug a computer directly into that ethernet port with an ethernet cable, preferably one showing no signs of wear or damage. Try to test using two separate cables, to be on the safe side.
What is an ethernet cable?
An ethernet cable has a plastic plug on either end, rather like that on a phone, but larger and longer. The cable itself is quite chunky. They’re designed to plug computers into each other. The eSafety Commissioner has an excellent overview of home network cabling.
This cable plugs into the large port on modems, like this Netgear Nighthawk:
This removes your internet wireless network as any cause of connectivity problems.
Some recent laptops or computers may need an adapter to run an ethernet cable (for example, recent MacBooks, Windows Ultrabooks, Chromebooks, ThinkPads, and so on.).
Repeat Step 1 above (do a complete power cycle) and test again.
If you’re able to connect with a cable, but not wireless, there may be a fault with your modem or computer’s wireless card. If possible, try another computer. Contact your supplier.
5. (Mobile broadband only) Do a speed test
Visit our speed test page for more information.
- If you get slow speeds all the time, there may be a problem with your in-home equipment.
- If the slow speeds are mostly during peak times/busy periods, it may be congestion.
You should run the speed test at various times of the day and night, especially when you think your speed is slow.
Record the speed test results, so you can forward them to your internet service provider.
Keep in mind that your speed will vary depending on a number of factors, including congestion at peak times, how many users are using the same connection, and what the users are doing on the connection.
Check your Customer Agreement from your internet service provider to see what it says about expected speeds, if anything.
6. Check the weather
Weather conditions such as extreme heat or heavy rain can cause problems with mobile services.
Cloud, light rain, snow, fog, dust and smoke do not normally cause problems.
Wait until the weather clears and see if this fixes your problem.
Record the dates and times of any weather events, such as lightning strikes or high wind speeds.
7. Check your device/s
If possible, put your SIM into another mobile phone or mobile device. Can you access the network?
Ask a friend on the same network if you can visit them, or they you. Can they access the network?
If so, there may be a fault in your phone or device. Contact your provider for support.
Congestion and reduced service
Mobile service providers often have a limited amount of bandwidth available, and the more people who share it, the less of it everyone gets. This is known as “congestion”.
If a local mobile service is congested, providers will generally prioritise voice calls over internet access. This means you may be able to make or receive phone calls and texts, but can’t access the internet.
This is particularly common in an emergency situation, or where there’s an unusually large number of people in one place temporarily (for eg, field days or other large 1-2 day events).
In a mobile voice service, this may result in call dropouts, being unable to make calls at all, or issues sending and receiving text messages.
In a mobile internet service, this may result in internet services not working at all.
You may also notice slowness or dropouts during “peak times”.
These are generally evenings, when everyone gets on the system to watch movies, play video games, catch up with friends and family, and generally all be online at once.
Some service providers may also have too many customers available for the bandwidth they’re supplying. If your service regularly drops out, seems to be slow all the time, and other people report much better speeds from nearby mobile towers, your local tower may be over-subscribed.
Speak to your provider first about improving your speeds.
Optus mobile connectivity support
Vodafone mobile support (these are excellent pages for general mobile device troubleshooting, even if you’re not using Vodafone, which is not generally available in rural, regional and remote areas)
Still having issues?
If you have tried all the steps above and are still having problems, you will need to contact your provider.
Use your Provider Contact Sheet to contact your service provider to help you troubleshoot your issue further.
If your provider is unable to help resolve your issue, get a fault number/ticket number from your provider, ask for the complaint reference number and fill in our escalation form. We’ll do our best to help you.