Home - , , , , , - Updated: Sprint MVNO BYOSP is Badly Broken

Updated: Sprint MVNO BYOSP is Badly Broken

Sprint has eliminated its much hated Blacklist that prevented Sprint MVNOs from activating newly released Sprint phones until they had been on the market for at least a year. You should now be able to Bring Your Own Sprint Phone (BYOSP) to a Sprint MVNO, even if it's a recent flagship like the iPhone 6 Plus or Samsung Note 4. In addition, Sprint Prepaid, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile phones are also now officially allowed on Sprint MVNOs for the first time.

At least that's the theory, unfortunately whatever Sprint did that was supposed to allow newer phones appears to have almost completely broken the Sprint MVNO activation system. Most phones that were eligible under the old rules are now failing Sprint's Financial Eligibility Check (FEC) criteria.

The FEC is supposed to block phones whose current or previous owner owes money to Sprint. This isn't new, Sprint has always blocked phones with unpaid outstanding bills. But something has changed and now phones that used to be OK are failing, including brand new iPhones from the Apple Store and Nexus phones from the Google Play Store that have never been used on Sprint. I've heard estimates that up to 50% of used Sprint phones from eBay or Swappa are also failing Sprint's newly revised FEC check.

As for the promise of being able to use Boost Mobile, Sprint Mobile and Virgin Mobile phones on MVNOs, it turns out they have to be used on the service for which they were sold for 12 months before they can move to an MVNO. That's understandable as those phones are sold at subsidized prices. However even that part of the FEC seems to be broken as I get an FEC error on a Boost Mobile phone that I used for over two years on Boost.

This situation has got to be devastating to Sprint MVNOs, most of whom rely on BYOSP for almost all new customer activations. Sprint has destroyed the wholesale and retail market for new and used MVNO ready Sprint postpaid phones. Brand new Sprint postpaid phones purchased at full price and off-contract used phones with no money owed on them are failing Sprint's MVNO check. These are phones that are OK according to standard ESN checkers like Swappa's and CheckESNFree and that Sprint CS will tell you are OK when you call them. This change by Sprint has caused countless hours of extra work for MVNO staff and independent MVNO dealers.Without a reliable supply of BYOSP devices I don't think many Sprint MVNOs will be able to survive.

It's not clear if Sprint has any intention to fix BYOSP either. Some MVNO's representatives are more optimistic than others:

  • Ting is saying that except for phones purchased new for the Apple Store, the Google Play Store or at full price from Sprint which they can activate manually, devices that are currently failing the FEC will probably never be able to be activated.
  • FreedomPop says that a solution is "underway" with no hint as to when.
  • RingPlus says they are working with Sprint and other MVNOs to find a solution. Again no ETA. Like Ting, RingPlus can manually activate phones purchased new for the Apple Store, the Google Play Store or at full price from Sprint. Manual activation takes a couple of days and is "intensely manual" according to RingPlus' CTO.
With no solution in sight, Ting is offering to help customers caught out by Sprint's incompetence. Ting will give a service credit equal to the price paid for the phone to anyone who bough a phone that can't be activated from a third party like eBay, Swappa or Craigslist between Jan 1 and Feb 15, 2015. To receive the credit you must submit a copy of a purchase receipt for the phone showing the price paid and ship the phone to Ting at their expense. Click here to take advantage of this offer.

As time goes on it's starting to look like the new FEC rules are here to stay. According to Ting VP of Marketing Michael Goldstein "A large portion of devices out there are linked to outstanding debts with Sprint and, except for a few errors we might find here and there, they are not going to be allowed to activate on services like ours that run on Sprint."

Prospective Sprint MVNO customers need to check that the ESN or MEID of any phone they intend to buy passes either the Ting ESN checker, RingPlus checker or FreedomPop checker. Other checkers, including Swappa's, may not have been updated to be aware of Sprint's new financial eligibility requirements.

Updated 3/21: Ting is now reporting that many devices that previously failed the FEC are now passing. See this Ting blog post and this PepaidPhoneNews post for more information.

98 comments:

Comment Page :
  1. Can Boost or Virgin devices be used on Sprint (postpaid) after 12 months?

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    Replies
    1. Can a Sprint iphone 4s and iphone 5 be activated on Boost or Virgin?

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    2. EVERYONE that was affected by this bad fec check needs to file a complaint with the fcc right now https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us If you open a ticket with ringplus they will get you up and running within 48 hours if this failed fec check occurs but sprint says you are eligible. Another solution is an ebay listing with 7 samsung galaxy s3 sprint phones available stating he has devices that are ting ready which should be able to go on any mvno i messaged the seller to make sure he has checked them after feb 15 but i have not recieved a reply yet . http://m.ebay.com/itm/161623938244?_mwBanner=1
      one last solution i found is that real mobile is selling phones that should be able to activate on any sprint mvno i messaged them and they confirmed this.
      So good luck i hope i helped god bless.

      Delete
  2. So, a never activated Boost or Virgin phone can't be used on an MVNO?

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    Replies
    1. That's what Ting is saying. I hope they are wrong.

      Delete
    2. How would Ting or any other MVNO verify that it had been used on VM/Boost? What about "Sprint Pre-Paid" devices? These newer devices are all plain vanilla out of the box, so???
      I have SPP devices on Ting and R+, but if I want to move either and have an issue then this is just BS! I don't even want to be concerned about this crap anymore and I am just going to move over to the GSM side, if I don't use Sprint again it will be too soon! This is all just a big hassle and I hope more users just dump Sprint like I am going to do and I am a long time Sprint/Sprint network user.

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    3. That would make sense. Who would buy a full price Sprint phone when you can just get a Boost handset for like $50-60? Other carriers are prohibiting unactivated prepaid phones from being "unlocked" too.

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    4. That makes perfect sense. Boost and Virgin phones are lightly subsidized, so they probably need that 12 month period to recoup that investment. Think about it: That's a lot shorter a time period than the typical 24 months required on postpaid.

      Delete
    5. Except there are many devices on Boost/VM/Sprint Pre-Paid that are not offered from Sprint!

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  3. New Boost smartphone just purchased today and not activated failed the Ting MEID checker...

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  4. This might be unrelated, but today is the 6 month anniversary I activated a Sprint iPhone 4s on Freedompop. The phone stopped working at exactly 6 months, earlier this morning. No more cellular data and my Freedompop account does not display it as active anymore. I am on the 500mb free plan; it has worked perfectly until today. No word yet from Freedompop.

    Seems like an odd coincidence. Wonder if it's related to this Blacklist change somehow?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Redpocket Mobile the Sprint side of it anyways did the same thing to me and when I spoke with them they told me that I had "Abused their service" which is the $35 plan which included unlimited data 300 mins and unlimited text. It was also on their MVNO for 5-6 months and it was a sprint iphone 5 which was working just fine until they cut it off. When I showed them proof of my data usage they refused to listen and told me that I would have to port my number or risk losing it causing me to port to Metropcs which had a deal with the LG F60 and $50 unlimited 4gLTE which is not truely unlimited but its working great for me and I do not have to worry about my data not working every time I pay my bill which was another reason Red Pocket Mobile was a horrible carrier. My personal opinion is that Sprint MVNO's are not financially responsible and when they feel they cannot make their money back on you they kick you to the curb.

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  5. Hold off on EVERYTHING. At least one dealer reported up to a 95% failure rate on even what should be eligbile phones. BYOSD right now is simply a MESS so the best thing to do is WAIT a bit and see where the chips will fall. Hopefuly within a few days or a week or so Byosd will be more clarified on what works and what doesn't. It's just like any major software update on a smartphone too, don't use the first version, it'll always have problems.

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  6. So where in the hell is the actual policy laid out by Sprint that concerns Sprint and all their Subsidiaries!

    ReplyDelete
  7. "...Sprint is requiring Boost and Virgin Mobile phones to be used on Boost or Virgin for 12 months before they can move to an MVNO..."

    A customer service representative from Boost Mobile would not allow me to activate my Virgin Mobile HTC Desire 816 on Boost Mobile just now (to take advantage of the $35 Auto Re-Boost plan). To echo an earlier post, GSM looks better and better.

    Sprint (including Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile) here's a pop question, what's 100% of none of my continued business?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Boost and Virgin are not MVNOs they are Sprint brands. Virgin and Sprint Prepaid don't allow BYOP at all and Boost only allows a small number of Sprint postpaid phones with their BYOP, they don't allow any Virgin or Sprint Prepaid phones on Boost. These changes don't apply to service from Boost, Virgin or Sprint Prepaid, the changes only apply to non-Sprint owned MVNOs like Ting and FreedomPop.

      Delete
  8. better off, never use sprint, instead of getting in this mess ;)

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  9. I recently left the Spring world. Was there for years. It was like crawling out of a dank cave and into the sunlight.

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  10. Dennis -- I've read rumors that there are changes coming to some AT&T GoPhone plans on Wednesday, February 18th. Are you aware of these rumors?

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  11. If I were Sprint, I'd want every single possible device that could be on my network, on my network. With Softbank losing patience, recently stating they are not going to throw unlimited cash at Sprint, T-mobile almost overtaking them for 3rd place, and losses every quarter, I'd let anything (that is not stolen) on! If a user buys a Boost phone and wants to use it on Virgin, let them!!! Don't put up roadblocks, knock them down! People are wanting to give you monthly recurring revenue! Let them!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Boost and Virgin phones can't be used on MVNOs without 12 months of paid service. But what about Sprint Prepaid phones, do they also need 12 months of service?

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    Replies
    1. According to Ting, yes, a Sprint prepaid branded phone is in the same boat as Virgin/Boost. They cannot activate brand new phones that are packaged for Sprint prepaid.

      Delete
    2. It's impossible to generalize, esp. now. I activated a new Sprint prepaid LG Tribute on RingPlus. The Boost model of that phone, and both Boost and Sprint PP versions of the Sharp Aquos Crystal also worked for many people. An ex-Boost LG Marquis sold to me earlier by Ting failed their MEID check and had to be brought in manually. Even before this change Ting told me they could bring over a few Boost phones manually. Too many exceptions to document.

      Delete
    3. Had your Sprint Prepaid Tribute ever been activated on Sprint Prepaid service?

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    4. No, I activated the Tribute "new" for the first time on RingPlus. New LG Volts and Sharp Crystals were reported to activate with MVNOs, whether they were Boost or Sprint Prepaid.

      Delete
    5. When did you activate it? I just tried activating an LG Tribute I got on ebay on ringplus, and no go. Is that because of the rule change, or because it wasn't scanned in a store? Can ting or ringplus activate it manually?

      Delete
    6. Any Boost or SPP device activated on Ting will be grandfathered on their service. However, if you want to move it to another service down the road forget it, unless you want to use it on Boost/SPP for 12 month before doing so.
      As far as those Boost SPP devices activated on RingPlus or any other MVNO, it is up in the air on how they will treat those devices.
      Ting has grandfathered any device that has made it on to their service. RingPlus on the other hand has been ruthless when these same devices have made their way on to their service, even though they have had little to no safe guards preventing their activation.
      Going forward forget about activating any Sprint pre-paid subsidiary device on an MVNO unless it is active on the intended service for 12 months, what is not clear is if the device has to be currently active on the service when you ask for it to be released. I seriously doubt " Sprint Pre-Paid" will even be around for a year and even if they are I would say very few devices will fit the 12 month criteria, in my experience few stay with Pre-Paid for long periods of time. These policies may change that or may have a detrimental effect on the Sprint subs or even Sprint MVNOs if more stay with the Sprint subs.
      Of course Sprint can change its policy tomorrow, so who knows. I think this just shows the true nature of Sprint and why you should just stay away.
      Some argue that the devices are subsidized, but I don't think the $180 retail price for a LG Volt show subsidized pricing with the specs that device comes with.

      Personally I am going to wean myself of Sprint.

      Delete
  13. So what dose this mean for boost mobile ?

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    Replies
    1. These changes don't affect Boost.

      Delete
  14. I have 5 devices now deemed ineligible. 2 Sprint Post-Paid were purchased brand new 3-2013 and activated on Ting and were so for one + year. 3 others I purchased used over a year ago and were activated with Ting and Ring Plus with no issues and I bounced them around from MVNO to MVNO with no issue.
    The 3 devices I purchased used I called Sprint to make sure they were clear and was told they were, if they had not been then they could have never been activated from the start!
    I am not alone in this.

    We as consumers have to have some recourse, we have not even been afforded an explanation and proof as to why the device has been deemed ineligible!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What do you mean? Have your devices been disabled by Sprint in the past week? Were they active with an MVNO when they were disabled? What about the 2 phones you purchased new, why are they ineligible?

      Delete
    2. "Have your devices been disabled by Sprint in the past week?" The devices I am referring to had been deactivated from service and sitting on the shelf. All of those devices, prior to 2-14-21015 , showed good to go on Ting - Ring Plus and Swappa ESN check tools. I was in the process of selling 3 of those devices and had checked their status the week prior. Every one of these I have owned for over a year and have bounced them around from MVNO to MVNO with no issue. All of the devices had at one time or another been pushed back to Sprint and each time I called Sprint to see if they were good to go on their service again and I was told yes.
      If there was an issue with any of those devices as far as it being lost or stolen or a balance due on the account it would have been flagged long ago. It is not like Sprint did not have these policies in place already, I have ran many devices through ESN check tools to find they were blacklisted for the very same reasons this FEC checks for!

      "What about the 2 phones you purchased new, why are they ineligible?
      Like I said, I bought them new sealed in box from a reputable eBay seller and they were activated out of the box on Ting and used for 1+ year. You tell me why they are now ineligible, because Sprint won't tell me!

      As far as the LG Tribute is concerned, don't ever plan on deactivating it for any reason or it will become ineligible for activation on any service but the one it was intended for and then you will have to activate it for 12 months continuous before you can BYOD it elsewhere. This Blacklist policy is worse than the Blacklist Policy they had for Sprint Post-Paid devices!
      Look how far we have come, BS!
      More like One step forward Ten steps back!




      Delete
    3. Oh, the 3 used devices I posted about above were all Sprint Branded Post - Paid devices.

      Delete
    4. All "investments" have risks. Reselling cellphones, especially low-priced Androids is high risk. Dumping them now is not good business. $15 for a new Tribute? If we are patient and wait for Sprint to adjust this new policy, things will work out.

      Delete
    5. "All "investments" have risks. Reselling cellphones, especially low-priced Androids is high risk." What total tripe!
      The devices I have were no investments, in fact they are worth less than half than when purchased and as they stand presently only good for parts.
      I have owned these device for well over a year and closer to two. The three I purchased used all had their ESN released and were active on multiple MVNOs over the course of the time I have owned them and were never flagged for any reason. They had even been pushed back to Sprint several times. Since their purchase they had no tie to Sprint other than they were using their network, so there is no possibility that they have a financial tie to Sprint. Sprint has thrown thousands of known good devices into black hole and the don't give a rats azz about their owners. Quite frankly, it is criminal what Sprint is doing here!

      According to what Ting is posting on their blog is that NO it is not going to work out over time.

      Delete
  15. My Lg Trubute, bought new from big box store and activated in Ringplus is still working fine. Sprint will iron out the issues. Look how far we have come! Stay calm folks.

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  16. Sprint's new "financially ineligible" policy seems like money grab to me. If Sprint can't sign up enough new subscribers or keep current ones they're going to squeeze money from anywhere they can, even if they piss off Sprint users in the process. Which makes me think Sprint is getting desperate, Sprint may have Soft Bank's backing, at least for now, but they can't last long without giving people a reason to stick with them. We're all better off with four national carriers competing for our business, but not with Sprint as one of them. The country needs a new national carrier to replace Sprint and it can't come soon enough.

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  17. Sprint's always been antibyod on their mvnos. Till 2012 there was no way to get one on short of hacking or rewriting the esn. When byosd started it had some limitations like no iphones and blackberries/palms but they started improving it gradually. with some setbacks. The biggest setback (till now) was them making it not possible to put devices less then a year old. With this current mess, I'd gladly like the old system back as it was more predictable and reliable. This promise of devices under a year old means nothing if you can't get anything on there because of FEC . I advise a lot of prepaid dealers and right now I'm telling them Sprint devices are a no go till Byosd is straightened out and there is a reliable way to check for bad phones. For now, if you want to go used phones, its gsm or Verizon on Page Plus . Not much else.

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  18. FEC is a mess. I'm telling all my dealer associates to avoid BYOSD until they straighten this mess out.

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  19. I don't know why anyone is surprised that Sprint isn't fixing their broken BYOSD system. Sprint's network has been broken for years even in areas where they have coverage, despite all the money Soft Bank has dumped into Sprint, and after all that time and money their network still hasn't improved at all. In fact, every time Sprint tries to "improve" something it gets worse. When Sprint launched Spark tri-band LTE phones last year these phones couldn't connect to LTE in many markets where Sprint has already deployed LTE. Creating the bizarre situation where older LTE phones got LTE, while the new Spark tri-band LTE phones were stuck on Sprint 3G (which is slower than other networks 2G) all because Sprint hadn't upgraded their network to support the new tri-band phones. So, don't expect a quick fix to Sprint's latest "improvement". One of Sprint's most popular MVNOs Ting in already launching service on another network (T-Mobile) it might be time for the other Sprint MVNOs to do the same before they go out of business.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sprint does seem to have a higher level of technical and organization incompetency than the other 3 operators. I'm hoping Son and Claure can clean the deadwood out but that will take time.

      On a positive note, Sprint 3G seems to have gotten a noticeably faster and more reliable for me in the last 6 months in the San Francisco Bay area.

      Delete
    2. I remember when I first tried to bring my Nexus 5 to Ting, I went hunting for a Sprint SIM just to see if I could find one locally so I could get it faster. I figured this should be possible, since according to Google, Sprint was supposed to be able to activate Play Store Nexus 5's, too. Lo and behold, I was absolutely astonished by what I found: 4 out of the 5 local Sprint stores I visited had no clue what a Sprint SIM even was, and the one that did know said they were out of stock of the needed SIM, had no idea when they'd be getting more, and that the Sprint never trained them or issued any directives on Nexus 5 Play Store edition activations. In the end, I just ordered a SIM from Ting, and I'd say this speaks VOLUMES about Sprint. Clearly, Sprint HQ did not communicate properly with their stores about Nexus 5 activation policy, either because they were actively dragging their heels on it, or they just plain didn't care enough to get around to it. Either way, this shows a truly HORRIFYING level of organizational incompetence at Sprint. Ting is clearly much better at serving customers than Sprint, and it's a wonder Sprint has ANY customers left! Compare this to practically any GSM carrier like AT&T or T-Mobile or any of their MVNOs, where you can walk in, get a SIM and have it activated in less than 5 minutes, and it's easy to understand why Sprint is the ONLY cellular provider still really struggling with their losses! I can well imagine that the people at Ting and other Sprint MVNOs must be getting frustrated and loosing patience with Sprint, if even only in private.

      Delete
  20. Nine days ago I swapped out/deactivated a Sprint device that was with Ring Plus Sprint MVNO for 6+ months and after deactivation I ran the ESN with RingPlus and Ting, both showed the device good to activate. I also called Sprint to make sure that it was properly pushed back to Sprint so it was able to be activated on their Post-Paid service if need be and they told me it was.
    Now that SAME device Shows Financially Ineligible, WTF!

    Ring Plus does not seem to be interested in contacting Sprint on their customers behalf.

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  21. FreedomPop finds that, for most devices rejected for this reason, it can still activate them by making a special request to Sprint.

    It has a small team doing this. They currently have a 48-hour backlog though. You have to contact a FreedomPop CSR or Admin to get added to the list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, what does that do for those who have devices sitting on the shelf as back up or wanting to sell them?

      Delete
  22. I really can't understand why anyone puts up with this nonsense. What's the big attraction at Sprint and Sprint MVNOs that makes it worth it to be abused like that? There are many options in the GSM prepaid world. Try one, you might like it.

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    Replies
    1. The only Sprint based service I still use is FreedomPop. I can deal with a little nonsense in return for 1000 MB of free data every month.

      Delete
    2. freedompop is so worth the little trouble (if any) .people act like it's harder than it really is to simply maintain a freedompop account.i love freedompop!

      Delete
  23. Hofo ID Grateful4adviceFebruary 21, 2015 at 4:47 PM

    Consumers benefit from the increased competition of having 4 national carriers. I want to support Sprint, I really do but they make it so difficult. Sprint seems almost suicidal; error upon error. The best thing Sprint could do is hire Dennis as CEO.

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  24. I've been waiting more than 48 hours now to hear from Ting. I boughta Note 2 last fall. Waited month until I they cleared it on the byod list, won a bid on eBay. I activated it between middle of November to middle of December, you know trying and hoping Ting was for me. Well it did not work out, so I discontinued service, paid what I owed and tried selling it on eBay first then swappa. Since it did not sell, and I saw FreedomPop had gotten better I tried getting it activated last week. Found out it woils not clear for FreedomPo, tried swappa, it cleared there. Then I read about the current trouble so cheked Ting, to my surprise it failed. Called Sprint as suggested, they said it's clear and clean! So I called Ting and the said they would contact Sprint and get back with me in 48 hours or so. That was Wednesday. Nothing to date. I have checked all the sites each day and am still unable to activate with any of them, Ting nor FreedomPop! I can't sell it I can't activate it. It's a brick. I hope something happens or I will spam every blog or site I can post to on this issue. I already sent note to Lilliputing.com and they did a piece on the issue today. I spammers every post I could on Google+ twice with a post about it also. I am ticked off and I urge others to do as I did, even for a bit of satisfaction or to not feel stuck with it. We can do something if we want to about it and we should! Post 0n every blog, any Sprint related site or article you come accross on any site. I am aiming to post several times on Tng Facebook and FreedomPop sites. Sprint sites and any article that allows comments. Not sitting and taking this crap!

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  25. I too love FreedomPop, it's why I tried getting on with my Note 2. Now I can't because of this.

    ReplyDelete
  26. At least one new and up and coming Sprint mvno has reported losing about 2-3 percent of their user base since this disaster happened. Wonder how badly it's affecing the others that have byosd . I bet Boost dealers are raking it in as they are left alone by this mess not having the same byosd system (which isn't much anyway).

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  27. This is all pretty ironic. People are so happy to buy new, subsidized Tribute, Volt, Crystal etc at low prices, never intending to use them on SPP or Boost. Exploit a loophole! So smart, everybody! To hell with the TOS! When loophole closes they howl, whine and complain like greedy children caught stealing something. TOS is part of the deal folks. Put on your big pants (if you have any) and learn from this. Don't be tempted by 'bargains' that involve cheating.

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    Replies
    1. Agreed 100%!

      It's (maybe) ok to exploit loopholes while they exist but people should not complain when they're closed.

      Delete
    2. VM/Boost devices were always known to be blacklisted so the point is somewhat valid, but there was no official stance on SPP devices especially from the MVNOs. Not to mention that the SPP predecessor As You Go devices were allowed on Sprint MVNOs.
      What is rich is those AYG devices were not even allowed on the new SPP service, so AYG users were left holding the bag. Like VM Custom users and who knows what happens to Data Done Right when that goes down the toilet. Sprint is pretty good at screwing their Pre-Paid customers.
      I bet Those AYG devices are now coming up financially ineligible as well and AYG was only around for ~4 months and what about VM custom devices since they were only around for 4 months as well? So how does one activate a AYG or VM Custom "Pre-Paid" device when the service was not even around for 12 months?
      In essence you are claiming these are subsidized and with the mandatory 12 months continuous activation makes Sprint Pre-Paid Subs more of a contract service rather than Pre-Paid.

      By the way, the Volt was hardly subsidized, it retailed at $180 which is hardly a subsidized price for a device with those specs. The prices many paid fon those devices were sale prices through retail channels and not subsidized, more like desperation by SPP. The SPP service is hardly competitive and Sprint probably sold more SPP devices that were not used on their crappy Pre-Paid service. Customers did Sprint a favor by buying those devices otherwise they would still be sitting on the pegs gathering dust and those devices were/are using Sprint services just the same, so Sprint cuts off its nose to spite its face.

      This is really all besides the point since the majority of the blocks are on known good Sprint Mothership Devices and not pre-paid, so please don't try an make yourself all warm and fuzzy inside on others misfortune by trying to dilute the main issue over the activation of Pre-Paid devices!

      Delete
    3. THIS post was about new, prepaid devices. And the TOS for SPP and Boost has always prohibited use with other service providers. No amount of rationalization can change that. Go dig out your SPP packaging and put on your glasses - it is right in the middle of the fine print on the back of the box. Do you really think that $39.99 for a Tribute, or a Voit last Nov, was not subsidized by Sprint?

      Delete
    4. Actually, this post is NOT mostly about new (or used) prepaid phones. Phones from Sprint's prepaid brands have never been officially allowed on MVNOs. The fact that some of them worked was a loophole. Everyone would be a lot less upset if all Sprint did was close the prepaid loophole.

      The real issue is that Sprint has destroyed the wholesale and retail market for new and used MVNO ready Sprint postpaid phones and caused countless hours of extra work for MVNO staff and independent MVNO dealers. I would not be surprised to see one or more Sprint MVNOs fail or switch from Sprint to a different MNO as a result of this fiasco.

      Brand new Sprint postpaid phones purchased at full price and off-contract used phones with no money owed on them are failing Sprint's MVNO check. These are phones that are OK according to standard ESN checkers like Swappa's and CheckESNFree and that Sprint CS will tell you are OK when you call them.

      This change has made trusted used phone marketplaces like Swappa, reputable eBay sellers and CowBoom unsafe places to buy a phone for Sprint MVNO use. It's forcing phone sellers to reveal ESNs, which is risky because crooks can clone those ESNs, if they check out as good, to bad ESN phones making the original phone impossible to activate.

      Delete
    5. "Actually, this post is NOT mostly about new (or used) prepaid phones." Right. I only meant to refer to the original comment at 5:11 AM, not Dennis's post.

      Delete
    6. Actually the so-called Pre-Paid loophole was Sprint's making when they started selling all the devices in a plain vanilla wrapper and the device only branded when activated. http://newsroom.sprint.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=2539
      Why my Volt on R+ still shows LG and chameleon as the carrier.

      What is also being missed by the Sprint purists here is the fact that many, like my self, were simply wanting reasonably priced Tri-Band device to use on the Sprint network where those bands and Spark were supported and not really trying to circumvent the rules, as it stood very few Tri-band devices could be activated due to the original blacklist. I also would have never bought the Volt had I not been able to activate it on a MVNO who has plans that fit my usage and budget. Screw Sprint and their Pre-Paid divisions that don't work for me! By the way, I am paying Sprint by proxy through R+.
      I bet SPP phone sales are in the toilet since this Pre-Paid policy went into effect.

      All said, Sprint could have taken the high road and released all those Pre-Paid devices activated on other services and started their draconian 12 month policy from this point forward. They could have also released all liability of Post Paid devices from this point back as well.
      A road that would have led towards consumer trust and patronage rather than contempt!

      Delete
    7. Looks like the howl, whine, complain and rationalize will continue for a long time. Anybody want to sell their new Tribute for $15? ;-)

      Delete
  28. Sprint seems a comedy of errors. Honestly when was the last "oh, sounds great!" news out of them since they had a big Boost data increase a few months ago?

    And soon TMOBILE will pass them, leaving Sprint in the 4th place role, an uncarrier left in the dust.

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  29. Online ESN checkers like Swappa, Ting and CheckESNFree are very good, but they are not perfect. I have a Verizon smartphone right now that is 'Clear for Verizon' on Swappa and CheckESNFree. When I ask Selectel or PagePlus, they show status as Active with Other, meaning another Verizon MVNO. This can't be true. When I ported out of Selectel, my MDN was released from the ESN. They verified that the ESN is not active in their DB. I have never reactivated on Verizon or a Vzw MVNO. This was never a Verizon prepaid or postpaid phone, and Verizon Wireless Prepaid will not activate it.

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  30. Can active, Sprint LTE SIMs be moved to a different Sprint LTE phone and just work, the way Verizon SIMs and phones do? If so, would this procedure side-step the FEC? Or does Sprint require both the MEID and the SIM serial to match on a line before the phone will connect and operate? I assume the MEID would have to be in Clear status either way.

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  31. Thanks for posting this article - and keeping up to date. This is a major problem for people buying phones that were shown to be ESN clean. Looking forward to updates.

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  32. The main problem with cell service providers (like so many other profitable industries) is simply corporate greed. The problems Sprint MVNO customers are experiencing may have more to do with the greed of the industry than one might think. It is apparent that something is very wrong with the internal management of Sprint. It may partially be the result of moles within the organization who are paid handsomely by other cell service providers to create chaos the end result of which will affect market share. In addition, the big guys DON'T want models like FreedomPop in the picture as this exposes and threatens their ridiculous profit margins. Billions of $$ are at stake so corporate espionage is likely to be somewhat of a factor in all of this. There should be far greater oversight and scrutiny of this industry by a responsible consumer advocacy organization and a means of disciplining providers who fail to measure up to reasonable standards in every area of their service model. HUGE monetary penalties and other measures should be used to motivate responsible and reasonable behavior from all players. Where there is huge $$ at stake, there will always be cut-throat competition. If one wants to create a good service industry there must be a means of motivating self-restraint to rein-in those who would otherwise be free to exploit the industry and rip-off consumers with overpriced services. Cell phone service profit ratios are among the highest of any industry and should be reduced substantially. This by itself would change the nature of this industry for the better. Check out this interview with a FreedomPop co-founder to learn ore about this industry: https://forums.freedompop.com/discussion/1197/really-great-interview-with-freedompop-co-founder-stephen-stokols

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    1. In this case the market appears to be enforcing punishment on Sprint by voting with their feet. Sprint has now apparently slipped to fourth in size. I wouldn't be surprised to see them gone in a year or two--their spectrum is worth quite a bit, so it may reach the point the better business move is to sell that off and move on to other investments.

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    2. Sprint is losing plenty of money without government help. Competition is keeping them in check. The last time the government regulated the telephone industry we had a monopoly that charged HUGE prices for long-distance service. The Baby Bells, including AT&T and Bell Atlantic (now Verizon) are giving everyone much more and you are paying much less for it. If you want to go back to the era of the dial phone and huge home phone bills, don't drag us with you. The French government tried it for years, deployed more modern equipment, but finally gave up their failing monopoly. Now service in France is much better, with much lower prices. Government screws up just about any industry it touches. The last thing we should want is micro-management of the wireless industry by gov bureaucrats who are never held responsible and accountable for their mistakes and abuses. Happy with your new health care prices, huge deductibles and loss of your doctors? Think DHS is a well-run federal agency? Just itching for the FCC to regulate, tax, restrict and censor the Internet (new Net-neutrality rules)? GSA, the federal gov's central buyer for telecomm sure knows how to buy things efficiently without rewarding themselves with excessive fees, huge bonuses and lavish conferences, right? Lawyers in Congress who never ran a business, their young, inexperienced poly-sci staffers and herds of special-interest lobbyists are not the solution. Regulating profits and operations will kill new investment and innovation. Wireless companies are spending over $40B/year on new spending alone. How much do you think Sprint just spent on Network Vision? Who should to pay for that?

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    3. Anon: I agree some. But we do need net neutrality in the form of outlawing the companies discriminating on the basis of the content that goes over the air. This needs to be outlawed. Unless the content is criminal, it is none of their business if it comes from Netflix, an inferior T-Mobile music service no-one wants, Samsung Milk,or anything else.
      Let them charge by the bit for bandwidth, and keep their noses out of the rest.


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    4. Is that what the proposed FCC rule does? They are keeping it Secret, saying they have to pass the rule before we can know what is in it. This is "Communication" from "the most transparent Administration" in history.

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    5. Obama, who infamously tried to send in kommissars to control news anchors in newsrooms, will try to censor net content regardless of "net neutrality".

      So I welcome even an attempt at stopping cable cos, carriers from charging extra for Netflix, giving favorable rates to lousy music services, etc.

      Delete
  33. LOL, each Carrier is a Monopoly in and of itself and a Monopoly is not a Free Market! There are no competitors that these Monopolies don't allow and most of the revenue earned by the MVNO goes right back to these monopolies. MVNOs and their derivatives only exist at the pleasure of their Corporate Masters, that is not a free market!
    The Market sure is not working when Sprint users can not even take their known good devices and walk them over to another Sprint Network provider.

    So your so-called market solution is for current owners of Sprint devices to take a loss on those and move on? This is where We the People's representatives are supposed to come in an regulate such nefarious actions by corporations. The FCC, FTC and State Attorneys Generals should have already weighed in on this and they have so far been mum! The mear fact that this whole unlocking policy was voluntary shows a complete abdication of the FCC duties to the people by relinquishing them to the corporations and their special interest lobby! That my friend is plain and simple Fascism or Corporatism.
    Your other comparisons follow suit and are so twisted to suit your warped world view it is not funny and so far out of context they do deserves a reply, but way too far off topic to do so here on this forum.

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    1. Strange definition of "Monopoly." Every service company and every company that is selling the rights to use its intellectual property controls how its services and IP use rights are sold. Including sales and distribution channels. Why should different, more restrictive rules and regulations apply to Sprint? They have broken no laws here. It's mostly people who don't want to follow the rules that were part of the sale agreements for new prepaid phones who are braking rules here. Plus a lot more people who cheated Sprint by not paying their postpaid bills or device installment contracts. Why should they be bailed out when they are prevented from using Sprint network services? If they are bailed out and it costs Sprint more losses, the honest Sprint customers will have to pay higher phone service bills. Or sell their phones at a loss and move to another carrier. Punish the good and reward the bad? Sprint does have to fix the cases where phones are blocked in error. But that will not require more regulations.

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    2. Erm. your definition of monopoly is one you made up on the spot. Monopoly means just one. In the nation as a whole, there are 4 carriers.... 5 if you count US Cellular (there you go, Progressive Rock Guy).

      Most of the country is covered by two of these carriers, always competing. The most populated parts of the country have 4 carriers, always in fierce competition.

      "revenue earned by the MVNO goes right back to these monopolies..."

      Since we have established that no monopoly exists, you are talking of a situation that cannot happen.

      "

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    3. +1. In economics, the correct term is "oligopolies," I believe.

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    4. Can't argue with those who are disciples of Chicago School of supply side Reaganomics and the Laffer curve.
      To not see that each Carrier is a monopoly is simply willful blindness.

      oligopoly; the market condition that exists when there are few sellers, as a result of which they can greatly influence price and other market factors.
      Compare duopoly, >monopoly< .

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  34. The so-called Market is punishing owners of Sprint devices not so much Sprint! If this is not rectified and owners of these devices have to walk away from them they lose. Sprint on the other hand can, over time, make a gain since this will push users towards their heavily corporate regulated Post and Pre-Paid services.
    Yes it can and will push many towards their competitors, but I guess that is a long term gamble Sprint is willing to take or seemingly taking if these policies do stay in effect.

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  35. I do not think it is as bad as some appear to.

    The market is adapting.

    Already some phone sellers are pre-clearing their phones with Sprint en masse and guaranteeing that they will activate on Sprint MVNO's. As long as a supply of such phones can be made available, it will not be all that bad.



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    Replies
    1. Verizon required at least 6 months of use on Prepaid before clearing the ESN for MVNOs. Where is the equivalent outrage? other carriers can block phones when you don't pay your postpaid bills. Why should they let you?

      Delete
    2. There has always been discussion of Verizon's draconian policies, Sprint doubled down on that!
      Sprint has always flagged devices that are financially liable to Sprint, so it is not that Sprint had just allowed those devices to be activated all this time and why this FEC is bogus!

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    3. Problem with sellers clearing them with Sprint is that many find Sprint says they are clear, but not passing the MVNO FEC. Please post a link to All these sellers that are pre clearing their devices with Sprint.

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  36. I have a Sprint post paid phone I bought used that is currently active on an MVNO and I want to switch to another MVNO. If I do that will my phone fail to activate on the new MVNO because of this mess?

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  37. Check it on TING - it looks for the FEC as well - so you can know for sure.

    https://ting.com/byod

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  38. Can someone provide a seller with good FEC tested phones?

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  39. It seems like this issue is specific only to certain MVNOS. I just activated a Note III with Espanol Mobile. The CSR told me they have not had any troubles as they have have a few potential activation methods. in case your wondering its espanolmobile.com or 1-866-265-9473 to reach a rep directly.

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    1. Yet, another reader on Espanol Mobile which Dennis refuses to list on this site.

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    2. I haven't refused, I just haven't had the time to properly research the company. If you want to help put in touch with Espanol Mobile's marketing person or someone else who can speak for the company in an official capacity. You or they can reach me using the email address on this site's contact page.

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    3. The weird thing is the Espanol Mobile site says they can activate Boost and Virgin Mobile phones, I wonder if this is true?
      Most Sprint MVNOs say they can NOT activate Boost or Virgin phones.

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    4. Boost and Virgin phones are supposed to be good on any Sprint MVNO provided they have been used on Boost or Virgin for 12 months.

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    5. Boost and Virgin phones are supposed to be good on any Sprint MVNO provided they have been used on Boost or Virgin for 12 months.

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  40. Just wondering if this is partly due to Sprint trying to recoup from former postpaid subs who just bailed on them owing ETF's when their network was in worse shape years ago? I don't see how blocking MEID's is going to change any of that regardless of the device subsidies. Sprint just needs to write it off as a risk to begin with. They should welcome as many as they can using the network, wholesale and MVNO's

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  41. Sprint itself is badly broken.not news,

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  42. To save your money and frustration, just stay away from this whole Sprint/MVNO BYOD and FEC mess for a year. Maybe both Sprint and all it's MVNOs will be out of business by then. I have lost money and time by this mess and want to have no part of it anymore.

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  43. I just activated a Sanyo Mirro 3810 on RingPlus. The MEID is in the PLBL/MVNO database, labeled as Boost Mobile. I have never used this phone on Boost.

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  44. Very interesting. I activated my old Virgin Mobile phone on EcoMobile http://www.ecomobile.com/byosd (Sprint MVNO) on 3/16. I can make and receive phone calls and text messages. I was told that former Virgin Mobile devices will not have access to picture messaging or the internet. I was told I would need a Sprint branded device with its original software in order for those features to work.

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  45. Are unlocked Sprint prepaid phones currently allowed to be used on a postpaid plan? If you can use Sprint Prepaid phones on MVNOs, shouldn't a Sprint contract plan be allowed too?

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    Replies
    1. Sprint will not activate Sprint Prepaid phones, even if they are unlocked, on postpaid.

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