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Google Nexus One Hit With 3G Problems

There's likely to be a schadenfreude overdose in Cupertino today as Google finds itself on the receiving end of a chorus of complaints that the 3G coverage in its new baby, the Nexus One smartphone, is lacking.

On top of the problem, many users have complained that they don't know where to turn for customer support: the phone manufacturer, HTC, the carrier, T-Mobile, or Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) itself.

The Android-based Nexus One certainly isn't the first high-flying smartphone to get tripped up on network issues: The Apple iPhone, and its exclusive U.S. carrier, AT&T, have been struggling with spotty coverage since the iPhone 3G first debuted.

However, unlike Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and AT&T (NYSE: T), Google now finds itself in the position of having to provide customer service and technical support in a way it never had to as a search engine company.

At least part of that difficulty may also stem from the unique way the phone is distributed: Google sells the phone direct via a Web site, and the device either ships without a carrier or with a T-Mobile contract.

The complaints now center around two issues: no 3G service at all, or constantly switching between 3G and EDGE network. The user who started the thread said that he had been bounced between HTC and T-Mobile, with both companies pointing blame at the other.

Other users had similar complaints.

"T-Mobile also told me to call HTC. I did that and HTC sent me back to T-Mobile. I guess I was under the wrong impression, but I thought Google would handle the service on the phone," the user wrote.

"The only way this will get fixed is if there is a mass uprising...Otherwise this is going to get lost in the shuffle...I can almost guarantee it," wrote "Chicago29" on the Google support forum for the Nexus One.

As of Monday morning, the discussion thread "Spotty 3g coverage?" had 514 postings, although a large number were from one person, a non-Google employee.

A Google staffer, "Ry Guy," finally chimed in with a boilerplate answer. "We are investigating this issue and hope to have more information for you soon. We understand your concern and appreciate your patience."

In addition, a Google spokesperson issued this statement when contacted by InternetNews.com: "We are aware of the issues that have affected a small number of users, and are working quickly to fix any problems. We hope to have more information soon. When we do, we will post it to the user forum."

Google introduced the Nexus One last week at an event at the company's Mountain View headquarters.

The model for the Nexus One is different from most mobile phones. Google is the seller, rather than T-Mobile, the wireless provider, or HTC, the phone's maker. Customers can buy it unlocked for $530 or with a two-year T-Mobile contract for $179. Google plans to release a phone for Verizon Wireless later this year.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the internet.com network.