Blog Post

Verizon iPad 2 Displaying Strange Roaming Behavior

If some 11,000 page views and counting is any indication, a discussion at Apple Support suggests that at least a small number of Verizon (s vz) iPad 2s (s aapl) are having difficulties accessing Verizon’s network.

The problems begin as soon as iPad 2 owners activate an account with Verizon. Up until then, “Verizon” will be displayed in the menu bar for the 3G network, but after a data plan is set up and activated that changes to “Roaming.” Further, the affected iPads will not be able to access 3G unless “Data Roaming” is turned on in Cellular Data settings. Finally, some iPads also exhibit problems if 3G is switched off, or if the iPad is shut down with 3G off, requiring 3G to be turned on and the iPad to be restarted to regain network access.

Reported conversations with Apple and Verizon tech support give varying answers on the problem and which party is to blame, but the issue may have to do with the Preferred Roaming List. The PRL is a database for determining how the device connects to the network, including provider identifiers. For some reason, some iPad 2s are not recognizing Verizon towers. According to Verizon, consumers are not charged for data roaming in the U.S., so arguably this aspect of the problem is minor.

However, Apple appears to be taking it very seriously. Users are reporting Apple Stores exchanging affected Verizon iPad 2s for new ones, and that was my experience. In the Apple Store I visited, I noted Verizon iPads that had no problem correctly connecting to the 3G network, while mine remained in roaming mode. Apple tech support personnel were polite and helpful, but were unable to fix the problem. Apparently, Apple is now “capturing” iPads exhibiting this behavior and replacing them, though I was told that a replacement iPad would not necessarily work correctly, either.

It did not. After calling Verizon and transferring the cellular data account to the new iPad 2, the same behavior manifested. I was transferred to Verizon tech support, where the process of resetting network settings and  re-provisioning the account was repeated, but again without success. It was suggested I update to iOS 4.3.1, which, of course, I was already running. There were no other suggested fixes.

At this point impacted iPad 2 owners can try either returning their devices, or hope that Boy Genius Report is right concerning a rumored update to iOS. Version 4.3.2 supposedly will be launched in the next two weeks. The update  will “include a few enhancements, address security issues, and it will also fix several bugs that have affected users.” Those considering a Verizon iPad 2 might want to wait and see if the network issues are resolved with this update, or reconcile themselves to the idea of an ever-roaming iPad 2. Anyone having this problem? Share you stories and possible fixes in the comments.

9 Responses to “Verizon iPad 2 Displaying Strange Roaming Behavior”

  1. I updated to iOS 4.3.2 today, but the iPad still doesn’t connect to Verizon’s network, thought it does connect in “roaming” mode to the cellular network. Nonetheless, a year from now when I want to sell this iPad 2, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to buy a “roaming” iPad. This needs to be fixed.

    • I applied the iOS 4.3.2 update the day it came out it did nothing to fix the issue. Very dissapointed in both companies because they’re pointing the finger at each but the issue is not resolved.

  2. Mine was doing the same thing and was replaced. As soon as they reprovisioned my existing account to the new one so I wouldn’t lose 1GB I paid for it changed from saying VERIZON to ROAMING again. The Verizon people keyed on the PRL and “thought” it was on initial setup and was tied to the roaming towers. They “thought” the only way to fix was delete the original Verizon account, wipe the ipad2 and start over again with a new account (but weren’t 100% sure). Then the tech support manager said wait for two weeks when it expires so i wouldn’t lose my money and do it then. Oddly that’s exactly when the rumored 4.3.2 is coming out. I think they know what it is and how to fix but aren’t telling anyone it’s a glitch because they don’t want the same attacks AT&T went through. Garbage to pay $830 for a device that neither side “knows” how to fix.

  3. This might have something to do with the fact that Verizon iPads cannot roam or use other CDMA carriers’ 3G networks, only Verizon’s network. I bought a Verizon iPad 2 hoping it would work on the regional carrier’s 3G network here, which Verizon phone customers can roam on, since Verizon does not offer coverage here. But it would not work, as Verizon customers cannot roam on this carrier’s 3G network, only the 1G/2G network. This is exactly the situation the FCC order mandating roaming among carriers yesterday was all about.

    • It appears to be an actual hardware or software issue with some iPad 2s, else why would Apple be replacing them? At the Apple Store I was at, all of the store’s iPad 2s were connecting to Verizon’s network without a problem. There was nothing that tech support could do to get mine on the network.

  4. no matter how insignificant the issue, the iphone gets blasted as if it’s unusable even though Apple will fix any problems with the least amount of hassle. I’ve never met a more whiny bunch in my life. You sound like a bunch of nit picking women.

  5. I had this problem, and even called Verizon to try and sort it out. They weren’t able to correct it for me on the spot, but they took down some numbers from my configuration (including a PRL they weren’t aware of previously).

    About 4 days later, I noticed that my network name was correctly displaying Verizon instead of Roaming.