Activating your phone service
Submitted Friday, December 8, 2006
If you buy a phone-enabled device from a wireless carrier’s store, they will activate the phone service for you before you leave. If you order a phone from a wireless carrier via phone or online, you may have to activate the phone service yourself when you receive the phone. The process varies and the carrier will give you instructions on how to do it. If you have problems, contact the carrier’s help line.
Most wireless carriers around the world use either CDMA or GSM technology. For example, in the U.S., Sprint and Verizon have CDMA networks, and AT&T and T-Mobile have GSM networks. Phones must incorporate the appropriate technology. For example, a GSM phone will not work on a CDMA network, and a CDMA phone won’t work on a GSM network. A few phones have both GSM and CDMA technology built into them, allowing them to work with either technology.
Most of the rest of the world has standardized on GSM networks. Phones using these networks carry owner and network access information on small SIM cards, which can easily be swapped between phones. Once your service is activated, you can remove the SIM card from one GSM phone, place it in another, and use the network. The point here is that it’s the SIM card that gets activated—not the phone. (Warning: Some GSM carriers lock the phones they sell, so they only work with their network. If you want to use a GSM phone with another network, make sure it is an unlocked device.)
CDMA phones are different. They do not use cards to store owner and network access information. That data is stored in the phone’s built-in memory. If you buy another CDMA phone, you have to have your wireless carrier activate the phone to use it. (Important point: Make sure your CDMA carrier supports a phone before you buy it. Many will only support and activate phones they sell.)