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MetroPCS SIMs Now Available Online


T-Mobile is moving quickly to remake regional prepaid CDMA carrier MetroPCS, which it acquired in May, into a nationwide brand using the T-Mobile GSM network. The MetroPCS CDMA network will be available until mid-2015. But CDMA phones have all but disappeared from MetroPCS's stores and Web site and new customers as well as current ones replacing their phones are being steered toward GSM models.

Recently, Metro took another step  in its GSM transition by making SIMs available online for $10. Until now customers who wanted to use their own GSM phones had to visit a MetroPCS store to buy a SIM.

New MetroPCS customers who bring a GSM phone that has never been active on the T-Mobile network are eligible for a $50 rebate. New customers who port a phone number to Metro are eligible for a second $50 rebate. Both rebates can be combined.

The MetroPCS site says that non-MetroPCS phones must be unlocked to use the SIMs. However  at least one MetroPCS dealer reportedly says that phones locked to T-Mobile will also work.

The online order process is a little tricky. You are asked your phone's make and model which the site validates to "Make sure it's eligible". Unfortunately if the site doesn't recognize your phone's name it won't let you proceed.  Many popular phones that should be compatible, including the Nokia N9 and N8, Motorola Moto X, HTC One X and even T-Mobile's own Nokia Lumia 521, aren't recognized. It's possible to get past the compatible phone roadblock by choosing any other phone that is listed. The site then asks you for your phone's MEID which it checks to see if the phone is reported lost or stolen but doesn't appear to validate if the MEID matches the phone model.

However I'm not sure if using a MetroPCS SIM in an unrecognized phone will work. MetroPCS, unlike other GSM operators, requires that your phone's IMEI be added to some sort of internal database before it will work. If you put the SIM in a phone that's not in the database you won't get any service. This strange policy defeats one of the major advantages of GSM, the ability to easily switch devices by swapping the SIM from one phone to another.

I'm afraid that Metro might deny access to SIMs that were purchased using an MEID that doesn't match a phone on their list of "eligible" device. MetroPCS stores can add the MEIDs of ineligble phones to the MetroPCS database. Hopefully entering the MEID during the online SIM ordering process will do the same.

If any reader buy a SIM online for an ineligible phone please leave a comment letting us know if it worked immediately or if you had to visit a store to have the MEID added.

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30 comments:

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  1. Too bad about canceling the CDMA service.
    I have a fried that went to Metro because none of the GSM's worked at her home... Maybe in 2015 the GSM network will be better where she is, or maybe a move to Verizon would help...

    S

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. T-mobile will shut down the metro's cdma towers and turn them into gsm.

      Delete
  2. Can anyone please explain to me why would I bother with all the phone/sim restrictions, and $10 sim price, when I can get better and cheaper T-Mobile plans from one of T-Mo MVNO's, without any restrictions and hassle??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. None of the MVNOs offer anything comparable to Metro's $60/month plan with unlimited everything, including unlimited, unthrottled data and voice and text roaming.

      Delete
    2. Free roaming on AT&T is another plus with MetroPCS. Solavei with roaming charges more; they add about $9-10 in taxes/month, so their $49 plan is about $59.
      A third advantage is dealer support. There are many MetroPCS authorized dealers now.

      Delete
    3. I live in the mid-Atlantic region in an area that was not covered by MetroPCS before the merger ~1 May. Within 150 miles of my town there are now 9 MetroPCS stores and 350 authorized dealers.

      Delete
    4. Depends on where you live. There are no MetroPCS dealers within 50-60 miles of where I live, and T-Mobile coverage is pretty sparse too. As always, choose the service that provides good coverage where you need it.

      Delete
    5. Wow; you must live in the boonies. No Walmart or Best Buy within 50-60 miles? No wonder you have sparse Tmobile native coverage.

      Delete
    6. I'm talking about MetroPCS stores, not WM or BB or other resellers. Upstate NY. There are a few T-Mobile stores, but like I said it is weak outside of major cities. In our local WM I hear the staff telling people not to bother with T-Mobile phones--they must get a lot of complaints.

      Delete
    7. Are you sure you get free roaming on AT&T's network? Does anyone know this for sure? is it a verified fact? if that is the case Metro is looking pretty good right now. I am waiting for AIO (which I found out here will be available nationwide in about 2 weeks) because I feel ATT does not need roaming. Anyone has had the opportunity to test this?

      Delete
    8. Dennis confirmed this in his review, and they have the same coverage map as Tmobile prepaid. Facts you can verify.
      I do not see the point in paying a lot more for Aio when they do not have the retail stores, which were supposed to set the brand apart with a friendly, helpful, enjoyable shopping experience.

      Delete
    9. MetroPCS GSM roaming is the same as with T-Mobile prepaid. It's not universal free roaming on AT&T. In some areas where T-Mobile has zero coverage (not where T-Mobile has coverage in the general area but you are in a dead spot) you can roam on other GSM networks. The roaming is mostly on regional networks like i-Wireless but is on AT&T in some areas.

      If you look at the T-Mobile prepaid or MetroPCS coverage map and zoom in 5 levels you can see the roaming areas, labeled as "Partner".

      Delete
    10. "Upstate NY. There are a few T-Mobile stores, but like I said it is weak outside of major cities."
      Upstate NY, say above Utica, has huge coverage holes away from major roads and cities on all the networks. Even with Tracfone CDMA. Sprint, then Tmobile, are the worst.
      The Adirondacks. You need a Spot sat comm device out there!

      Delete
    11. "In some areas where T-Mobile has zero coverage (not where T-Mobile has coverage in the general area but you are in a dead spot) you can roam on other GSM networks."
      Even if you are in a Tmobile prepaid dead spot with no roaming agreement, you can make an emergency call when there is another GSM operator's tower within range of your Tmobile prepaid phone. I like that. On my Tmobile phone it says Emergency. On my Ptel phone it says No Service.

      Delete
    12. "AT&T will enter into a 7-year 3G roaming agreement that will boost T-Mobile coverage, and it has to give up a valuable package of AWS (Advanced Wireless Solutions) mobile spectrum that covers 128 cellular market areas (CMAs), including 12 of the top 20 U.S. markets. Overall, the agreements will boost T-Mobile’s blanket coverage from 230 million to 280 million people in America.
      Read more at http://venturebeat.com/2011/12/20/att-breakup-t-mobile-3g-roaming-128-markets-aws-spectrum/#IyIPVsiZfZHwoHyZ.99 "

      Delete
    13. "Upstate NY, say above Utica, has huge coverage holes away from major roads and cities on all the networks. Even with Tracfone CDMA. Sprint, then Tmobile, are the worst."

      Take a look at the huge holes on T-Mobile in western Massachusetts too.

      Delete
    14. MA Tmobile is dwarfed by Verizon holes in WV, OK, MO, western VA. It's tiny compared to AT&T skipping 90% of Nebraska. ;-)

      Delete
  3. The race to beat Aio Wireless to the punch is on! The coming weeks should be very interesting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 3G roaming doesn't help T-Mobile prepaid which has no data roaming at all.

      Delete
    2. I think I'll stay with Page Plus Cellular though simply because coverage is the primary factor and Verizon's CDMA coverage is comprehensive. I'm a distance-touring bicyclist so I like the peace of mind knowing that I have a high likelihood of getting a signal in some of the most rural areas.

      Delete
  4. @Matt, do you know anything about roaming on page plus? I see the voice rates, but nothing about text and data. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's no data roaming on Page Plus
      There's no extra charge for roaming on Page Plus

      See: Prepaid Operator Profile: Page Plus

      Delete
  5. Going out on the road (driving a big rig), haven't done this in 4 yrs. I currently have paygo on Ptel, Lyca, and RingPlus. Just to cover all the bases and for the fun of it, I am going to add H2o and PagePlus paygo phones to my collection. Most likely I will change my Ptel from paygo to $40 unlimited (mostly for the data, but would be nice to talk and text all I want when I have signal), I also have built up a large balance that I need to use up or loose.

    For internet I will be getting Freedompop 3G/4G (unless somebody can suggest something better (cost effective wise), I really don't plan on spending much time on the internet and using or needing much data.

    Having a Google Voice account forward to all the phones should make this work as painless as can be expected.

    This should just about cover it, since I can end up just about anywhere in the lower 48.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Slightly tangential question .. Do you know the device unlocking policy for metropcs gsm versions (gs4 specifically)?

    Also what would be the difference between $60 metro unlimited vs $70 tmo prepaid?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MetroPCS has not published an unlocking policy. I've seen speculation that they will unlock phones after 90 pays of paid service.

      The $60 Metro and $70 T-Mobile plans are identical in terms of features and coverage.

      Delete
  7. HOFO ID Grateful4adviceSeptember 17, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    Two quick questions. Now that Metro is selling SIMs online are they still restricting where they will activate a SIM to their old CDMA area?

    The online TOS for the $50 port your number and BYOD promotions state the transaction should be completed in store. These promotions preceded the availability of SIMs online. I live hundreds of miles from a Metro store. Does anyone know if Metro will honor these rebates for SIMs bought online? I called several Atlanta area stores and 888 8metro8 and they aren't even aware the rebates exist. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MetroPCS is restricting SIM sales to a limited number on markets including all the old CDMA markets a few new GSM-only ones. When you enter your zip-code they will either allow you to order phones and SIMs or block you with a message that MetroPCS is not available in your area.

      If the terms say the rebates require in-store activation, I doubt that they will honor the rebate offer if you buy and activate. online.

      Delete
  8. Hey Dennis, do you have any idea how fast the metroPCS SIM (on T-Mobile) will be? I live in NYC, T-mobile seems to have pretty good coverage here. But some Tmo MVNO's are restricted to low speeds. How is metroPCS going to compare to them? Now that metroPCS has roaming on AT&T for voice and text, I feel I can take the plunge and get a metroPCS SIM from my Nexus 4.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MetroPCS GSM speeds are comparable to those on T-Mobile Prepaid

      Up to about 10 Mbps on HSPA+ and 20 Mbps on LTE where it's available. Probably slower on HSPA+ (about 5 Mbps maximum) in NYC due to congestion.

      Delete
  9. What is T-Mobile wireless it's mean, i think it is a network carrier but i linked with other network provider. Is it possible to get other network provider with same mobile phone.

    ReplyDelete
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