The PhoneBoy Blog


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How to make your Orange Phone Prefer Blue

Regular readers of my blog will know I recently migrated from AT&T Wireless (“Cingular Blue” or just Blue) to Cingular (“Cingular Orange” or just Orange, though I know that’s a UK carrier). Cingular still maintains seperate Blue and Orange networks and probably will for some time. Even though I can roam freely on either network, the phone prefers one network and one network only: Cingular Orange.

I live in an area where Orange coverage, well, is sub-optimal. At my house, if it comes in at all, an Orange tower is maybe one bar. Blue will be anywhere up to 7 bars depending on various factors. I’m starting to see the problem a lot of people have previously reported after migrating: the phone (a Nokia 6230) will generally stay on Blue but the moment it sees a wiff of Orange signal, it tries to lock on. The end result: the phone spends its time deciding which tower it wants to lock onto and I have no coverage in the meantime. I’ve also been noticing that my GPRS/EDGE has been less stable than usual. Probably a side effect of the constant back and forth between towers.

Yesterday evening, I called Customer Care to see what, if anything, they could do. They told me it was possible to get the phone to lock onto Blue signal but I had to go into a Cingular store to have them do something to my phone (maybe just my SIM, but who knows). This doesn’t quite sound right to me, but I figured I’d run it by the people on AT&T Wireless Forums as well as the Cingular forum on HoFo.

Anyway, someone reminded me of this thread on HoFo that tells you how you can program the phone to home in on a specific carrier despite the fact that Cingular restricts this via the SIM. It requires Infrared or Bluetooth access to the phone and you use a terminal program to send the phone AT commands. You can use these AT commands to get the phone to “prefer” a specific carrier.

The thing you need to know is the MCC and MNC of the carrier’s tower you wish to lock onto. For all US carriers, the MCC is 310. The MNC for Cingular Blue towers is 38. The MNC for Cingular Orange depends on your area. In my area, it’s 26, but can be 15, 17, or 41 depending on the region. To be sure, you can send the command at+cops=? to your phone. You’ll get output like:

at+cops=? 
+COPS: (2,"Cingular",,"31038"
,(1,"Cingular",,"31026"
,,(0,1),(2) OK

The two commands you need to issue to your phone via the terminal to prefer Cingular Blue towers are:

AT+COPS=1,2,”31038″
AT+COPS=0,2

The phone, at least from what I read on HoFo, should prefer the Blue towers now, but use automatic network selection if Blue towers are unavailable for some reason.

It remains to be seen if this will solve the problem. I might also go see what the folks in the Cingular store have to say about this next time I’m in the mall.


C-List #Cybersecurity Celebrity, Podcaster, #noagenda Producer, Frequenter of shiny metal tubes, Expressor of personal opinions, and of course, a coffee achiever.