SIM Cards, LTE and Compatibility (And Google Fi!?)
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    1. #1
      Junior Member mattlach's Avatar
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      SIM Cards, LTE and Compatibility (And Google Fi!?)

      Hey all,

      Who on here has replaced the included Volvo AT&T sim card with one for their own carrier?

      The AT&T card I got with the car always gave me pretty low signal strength and slow speeds, no matter where I was. That, and because my wireless carrier (Google Fi) gives me free data only SIM's for use with my non-primary phone devices, I figured I'd give that a try rather than pay for yet another service.

      First issue:

      1.) SIM card from Google is too small. No worries. This is a common issue and they sell adapter trays.

      2.) Even the contact surface on the SIM card seems different. The included AT&T card has a bigger electronic contact surface, with four contact pads across, whereas the Google Sim is smaller with fewer contact pads. Anyone know if this is an issue?

      Volvo Sim Cards.jpg
      fig. 1: AT&T Card on Left. Google Fi Card (In black adapter) on right


      Second issue:

      So I looked up sim cards in the Manual, and found that the SIM card holder is in the trunk just behind the seats. In the manual it's pictured with some sort of door to access the holder, but my car does not have this door. I have to take the entire cover that covers the spare tire out to reach it.

      trunk-sml.jpg
      fig. 2: Trunk

      cover removed-sml.jpg
      fig. 3: Trunk, cover removed

      SIM tray-sml.jpg
      fig. 4: Sim card holder

      Once I found it, the SIM card holder pulls out to the left, you can pop out the old AT&T card and pop in the new one.

      First several tries this did not work at all.

      That is when I realized that in their wizdom, Volvo installed the sim card holder such that the contact pins face DOWN. Which means, as you try to insert it, these smaller SIM's in the adapters fall out of the holder as you are inserting them.

      A little double sided tape was needed to get them to stick, and in it went, and success, the car detected the SIM card.

      The instructions that came with the SIM card said that Google FI requires you to set your APN to "h2g2". with the "Automatically Detect" checkbox enabled, it seemed to work, but just to dot my I's and cross my T's I manually entered h2g2 as below:

      APN-sml.jpg
      fig. 5: APN Configuration Screen. Neither I nor the Google Support people know what the Username and Password fields are for


      NOW WITH THE PREAMBLE DONE, ON TO THE REAL PROBLEM:

      The SIM Card worked, at least at first. Signal strength is MUCH better than with the AT&T card that came with the car. I even max out full bars on a regular basis. It is often slow though. For instance, starting the Sensus Spotify app after turning on the car is VERY VERY slow. It can often take 5 minutes or more to even get to the point where it displays "my library" and I can select what to play. 5 minutes may not seem like much, but if you are running errands and stopping in many places, you often arrive at your next stop before the music has even started, which is kind of dumb.

      At first I chucked it up to Sensus just being its slow like molasses self. I don't understand how my $80 tablet can wake up in a fraction of a second, but the screen in my $50k car takes FOREVER to load on startup. But today, things took a turn for the worse, and I suspect it is the network connectivity which is causing these issues, not the slowness of Sensus.

      Driving to brunch this morning, things were working better than usual. I was playing Spotify, it only took a couple of minutes to get started this time which was great. My stepson was in the back seat enjoying the cars WiFi hotspot playing some silly online game on his iPad. He even marveled that the "ping" was pretty good in the car.

      Then on the way home things just got worse. Signal strength (as measured by the number of bars) was still good, but everything crept to a standstill. His wifi access point was not doing what he wanted it to, and Spotify? Well Spotify did this:



      I appreciate any and all suggestions! I contacted Google Fi support, and to their credit they were helpful, but in th eend they said they couldn't solve it, and gave me a list of supported devices (which Volvo (or any car for that matter) was not on. I get that. They can not be the experts on every LTE device that takes a sim card out there.

      So, I turn to you dear forum. Has anyone else used their own SIM card in the car? Anyone used Google Fi?

      Did you do anything differently than I did? Any special configurations that I may have missed?

      Does the difference in contact surface of the SIM cards have any impact?

      Does Spotify work well for you? Does it load fast?

      Does anyone know which LTE bands our cars support? This information does not appear to be in the Volvo user manual.



      --Matt
      Last edited by mattlach; 10-19-2019 at 05:36 PM.

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    3. #2
      Member skywolf's Avatar
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      Wow, great post.

      I’ve not even thought about swapping out the SIM card.

      So with my current ATT service or when the car is using my phone Spotify always takes a while to load. However it doesn’t do what yours is doing there and it doesn’t take 5 minutes.

      I think most of your issue is probably sensus itself. I have a 2018 V90 and the sensus is just terrible when it’s booting or starting an application. Some of that can be mitigated by not installing a lot of apps.

      I had a 2019 XC90 and the sensus in there booted up extremely fast and Spotify connected quickly. Hence why I think a lot of your issue is likely just sensus.

      I think your 17 S90 and my 18 V90 share the same crapshoot of a processor. Volvo probably realized this and upgraded it in the newer years.
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    4. #3
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      I use a Fi sim in my car. It's normally 30-90 seconds after I turn on the car to when Spotify streaming starts.

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    6. #4
      Junior Member mattlach's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by skywolf View Post
      I think your 17 S90 and my 18 V90 share the same crapshoot of a processor. Volvo probably realized this and upgraded it in the newer years.
      Yeah, I suspect that was the issue before yesterday that explains the few minute wait to get into Spotify.

      Not sure what was going on yesterday when nothing would load at all.

      Kind of frustrating that I've just bought a car, and this is already bothering me. I plan on holding on to this car for at least 5 years. I picture this being a constant source of frustration over that time.

      I wonder if it is possible to upgrade the Sensus module to the one used in the later model cars... Or better yet, maybe the new Android based one from the new all electric XC40

      I was actually looking at a 2019 model year first, but decided against it because I didn't like the longer wheel base.
      Last edited by mattlach; 10-20-2019 at 03:32 PM.

    7. #5
      Junior Member mattlach's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by mandrsn1 View Post
      I use a Fi sim in my car. It's normally 30-90 seconds after I turn on the car to when Spotify streaming starts.
      Thanks for the input. What year model is yours?

    8. #6
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      Quote Originally Posted by mattlach View Post
      Thanks for the input. What year model is yours?
      2018

    9. #7
      Junior Member mattlach's Avatar
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      So,

      It seems to have been a temporary issue. It's back to working again today. Still slow though.

      I tried removing some apps I don't use. Not sure that sped it up at all.

      Guess I'm just going to have to save the Spotify app for when I do longer drives, because around town it just takes too long to come online for it to make sense

    10. #8
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      sensus seems to still be a slow start. Same as my 2015 S60 was, so's the '18 S90.
      Interesting thought to change out the SIM. But it seems ATT and T-Mo have complimented each others coverage.
      Except in the wilds of far eastern Canada where nothing worked.

    11. #9
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      Keeping an eye on this. Currrently waiting for our V90CC to arrive from our OSD trip and plan on putting our Fi Data SIM in the car when it gets here. Will let you know what kind of results I get.

    12. #10

      Built in modem is a 3g . model SIm card will not matter.

      The modem in your car is 3G it does not matter if you put in an LTE SIM you will not get LTE speeds.

      "I don't understand how my $80 tablet can wake up in a fraction of a second, but the screen in my $50k car takes FOREVER to load on startup."

      Because the $80 tablet has a significantly faster processor. Something Volvo has remedied in their new cars and they boot much faster.

    13. #11
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      Quote Originally Posted by Yes!ItsaVolvo! View Post
      The modem in your car is 3G it does not matter if you put in an LTE SIM you will not get LTE speeds.

      "I don't understand how my $80 tablet can wake up in a fraction of a second, but the screen in my $50k car takes FOREVER to load on startup."

      Because the $80 tablet has a significantly faster processor. Something Volvo has remedied in their new cars and they boot much faster.
      All 2017+ SPA cars come with a 4G LTE modem.

    14. #12
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      One of these days I'm going to remember to go out there and try my TMO SIM from my phone. If it works as I am kinda thinking it will, i'll add the $20 plan to my existing plan and go that route. I'd rather not pay AT&T another dime if I don't have to.

    15. #13
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      Quote Originally Posted by ManBearPig View Post
      One of these days I'm going to remember to go out there and try my TMO SIM from my phone. If it works as I am kinda thinking it will, i'll add the $20 plan to my existing plan and go that route. I'd rather not pay AT&T another dime if I don't have to.
      I grabbed a TMO SIM for $10/month @ 2GB to test and I through the ATT sim out within 48hr. I actually get signal and data actually works when using the TMO one. ATT one here never worked at all and was constantly a headache for me.
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