Straight Talk Wireless, Slow Data, and the TFW 15.6, TFW 15.7, and TFW 16.0 Mystery

As some of you know far too well, a number of people using Straight Talk Wireless on their iPhones are suffering with extremely slow data speeds using Straight Talk’s AT&T-compatible network. The problem started in December 2013 when Straight Talk released the TFW 15.7 carrier update for iPhones using iOS 7.0.x.

In this update, Straight Talk changed the network indicator from 4G to 3G.  While this change was just cosmetic for many, some users experienced a drastic performance hit in network speeds. Readers using the Speed Test app reported speeds far below 2G data rates even though the status bar indicator displayed 3G.

Fortunately, many readers were able to fix the problem by using a trick with iTunes to revert their carrier from TFW 15.7 to TFW 15.6 and the problem went away. Unfortunately, people are now updating to iOS 7.1 and the problem has returned.  The iOS 7.1 update also includes the carrier update TFW 16.0 and with iOS 7.1, it seems that its no longer possible to revert back to TFW 15.6.

Other than the change from 4G to 3G, I always wondered what else changed in between TFW 15.6 and TFW 15.7 that might be causing the speed reduction.  So today, I contacted Joe, from the iTweakiOS web site.

itweakios

Joe is famous for his knowledge and ability to tweak iOS carrier files, or carrier bundles as they are called. Joe’s tweaked carrier bundles have improved network speeds and signal for many T-Mobile and ATT network users. To use Joe’s carrier bundles requires that you have a jailbroken iPhone. I don’t use or write about jailbroken iPhones mainly because I try to keep smartphonematters tailored for the average users. Check out iTweakiOS to find out more about what he does.

I asked Joe two questions. First, does he know a way we can install TFW 15.6 on iOS 7.1 and second if he could take a look at both TFW 15.6 and TFW 15.7 and tell us if he sees any changes that would account for a descress in network speed.  Below is his response.

joeresponse

So this actually raises a lot of questions. If there are no significant changes in the carrier bundle, is it really the source of the network performance issue? We have had enough users report this problem, and that going back to TFW 15.6 fixes this issue that I believe, they are related. Is the performance problem a side effect? I’ll write more about it as I find out more.

3 Comments

  1. Timothy | | Reply

    This may not belong in this topic, but, I recently brought my own iphone 5 to ST, I am using the at&t sim that is in the BYOP pack, according to at&t’s coverage map I should be having LTE, but my phone only displays ‘3g’. I assume it’s the hspa net, speeds are about 5-6 down 1-2 up. I have downloaded the apn profile you posted with no change, removed it and still have the same data speeds. customer support has be next to no help via ST, has at&t restricted access to the LTE net for ST or others? So is at&t’s LTE down?
    I was use to Verizon’s 30+ down, but i will live with 5/6 for $45 a month if thats as good as it will get…

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Hi Timothy,
      Sounds like you are using Verizon iphone 5. That phone is only compatible with LTE on the Verizon network, not the straight talk att or straight talk t mobile network.

      If you were using the phone on the ATT you would see a 4g indicator. Last year, straight talk made a change that replaced that 4g indicator with a 3G indicator.

      You can read about it here I Updated My iPhone to Net10 & Straight Talk Carrier Update TFW 15.7 and Now My 4G Is Only 3G!

      If you were using the att sim with a att or unlocked gsm iphone 5 you would get LTE if available in your area. I get lte, my down speed vary between 5 and 20 Mbps down.

      Straight talk leases wireless networks from att, tmobile, sprint, and Verizon. Att and tmobile let them use their lte networks. Sprint lets straight talk sell phones that use their lte network. They are restrictive about which byop phones you can use, which limits access to lte. Verizon doesn’t let any prepaid company, including their own use their LTE network.

      You can buy a used att or unlocked iphone 5 on ebay or craigslist, switch to that phone and then sell your Verizon phone. You’ll get lte for the difference in price between buying and selling. I don’t think you’ll see 30+ Mbps speeds on att.

      Regards,
      Bob

  2. dylan | | Reply

    Great post. My gut tells me this is planned obsolescence by Apple as I sarcastically mentioned before. Phones are now our veritable computers and we are data addicted. If not ST and Apple makes sense. They have new phones releasing soon. They arent happy with 500 million iPhones in sales. #wow

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