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How to fix an unsupported foreign sim card in an "unlocked" Verizon iPhone4s
jkoshi
Newbie

So I've spent my entire first day in Europe learning about the "unlocking" process with Verizon. First off it's important to note that Verizon is not factory unlocking your phone when they say they are "unlocking" it. It simply means that they are "unlocking" it for use outside the US. If you are in the US you cannot use another US provider, like AT&T, on your "unlocked" Verizon phone.

Before I left for Europe I had Global Support activate Global Features and had my iPhone "unlocked" in preparation for my trip. Once in Europe, I purchased a sim card here in Brussels from Proximus.be (aka Belgacom Mobile), put it in my "unlocked" phone and it DID NOT WORK. I've spent my entire first day in Brussels reading forums and trying whatever I can to get this new sim card to work.

Here's the issue:

After you put in your new sim card and activate it you get this message (It does not matter if the phone is plugged in, or if you have iTunes open):

The SIM card that you currently have installed in this iPhone is from a carrier that is not supported under the activation policy that is currently assigned by the activation server. This is not a hardware issue with the iPhone. Please insert another SIM card from a supported carrier or request that this iPhone be unlocked by your carrier. Please contact Apple for more information.

Here is what fixed it:

  1. Verizon has to reset the network on their end and re-unlock the phone. If you are outside the US you need to dial the specific country code before dialing the support number. Find your country code here: http://www.countrycallingcodes.com/ then dial (Country Code) + 1 + 908-559-4899.
  2. In Settings > Carrier, turn off automatic searching. In Settings > Network > Roaming, turn off International CDMA.
  3. Turn off your phone, pop in the new sim card.
  4. Turn on your phone, you will be prompted to Unlock the card.
  5. Go through the activation process including entering the PIN for you new sim card.
  6. You're done.

Here's what I got out my experience, and largely why it was so painful:

  1. Live Chat for Verizon Wireless does not work. It says to sign into chat (which I already am), but it will not load, even during active hours. It does not work in Safari or Chrome. It is a bug. Verizon, this is embarrassing for you.
  2. The number for reaching Verizon when you are outside the US is NOT anywhere available in the "Contact Us" section of the site. I don't remember how I found it, but it is under "Global Services." To get there you have to in the right part of the site (yes, it's not always there, it's conspicuously missing when in the MY VERIZON part of the site, where you go when you login). When you happen upon the right part of the site, Global Services appears in the footer under "Plans, Deals, and More" then click "Support" and scroll to the very bottom of the page. Then you have to know the country prefix to dial, which you have to google b/c they don't have a chart, and you will finally get to talk to someone. Verizon, I understand you want to limit customer contacts, but customers are more frustrated when they can't figure how to get help when they need it. For those of you calling from Europe, you have to dial 00 + 1 + 908-559-4899. To Verizon's credit, they have very nice customer service people, but they are not supported with any materials or access to information beyond what you already know.
  3. I found in an Apple support forum that says you need to do a Restore in iTunes for the "unlock" to take effect. Since I'm on a 4s, I didn't want to upgrade to iOS7 since the current reports are that 4s suffers in iOS7 (http://readwrite.com/2013/10/15/ios-7-fixes-iphone-4-4s#awesm=~omfISI5iSJMmTU) with no downgrade option (http://readwrite.com/2013/09/24/apple-ios-7-no-downgrade#awesm=~omfL3tyLvHFZFl). But in iTunes you have no choice, in order to Restore, you HAVE TO UPGRADE. I read that for AT&T phones you can do a Reset Data/Settings from your phone which will allow the unlock to complete without upgrading (https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4372797?start=0&tstart=0). I tried this and it DID NOT WORK for my "unlocked" Verizon iPhone4s. Avoid all this and just jump to the solution above.

Verizon, you should really do something nice for me for patiently wading through this awful experience and writing this support article for you. - Koshi.

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Re: How to fix an unsupported foreign sim card in an "unlocked" Verizon iPhone4s
atrain650
Newbie

thank you for this explanation and i agree verizon should do something nice for you!  i also had my phone unlocked and now in the only two countries i've tried i get the same message...verizon says they cannot help me b/c they do not provide support for foreign SIM Cards...unbelievable.  Anyway, since I have updated to iOS7 I do not have those options you mention.."Settings > Carrier, turn off automatic searching. In Settings > Network > Roaming, turn off International CDMA"  Any ideas for how I might get my SIM card to work?  I know it's not the card(s) as both times they work immediately and fine on my wife's AT&T iPhone 4S...thanks

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