we reported that TracFone might now be allowing LTE phones on TracFone BYOP. The story was based on the fact that when you enter the IMEI or MEID of a Verizon LTE capable phone like a Samsung Galaxy S III or iPhone 5s into TracFone's BYOP page you are asked to enter an LTE SIM ID or check a box labeled "I don’t have a SIM (you will receive your SIM within 2 business days. Check the box to proceed)". If you follow the prompts to purchase a $9.99 Network Access Code (NAC) and you are supposed to get the SIM and NAC via FedEx.
Unfortunately the possibility of LTE on TracFone is starting to look like a false alarm. A number of people have ordered the TracFone SIMs but very few have received them and only one person has reported being able to actually activate an LTE phone and SIM on TracFone.
You can follow the still ongoing saga on Howard Forums (first thread starting with post 2296, newer thread) and Turk Forums. The Howard Forums threads are very long (over 670 posts combined) with a lot of off topic chit chat so I've summarized them in terms of success and failures below:
What seems to be happening is that after a user orders the SIM and Network Access Code on the TracFone BYOP page none of the usual things that occur after ordering from TracFone happen, there's no confirming email and no FedEx tracking number. Checking the order's status online reports "no information available". Ticket status reports "We are unable to get the status of your case at this time. Please contact our Customer Care Center, at 1-800-867-7183 , and provide your case number." If the user then contacts TracFone by email or phone one of two things happens:
- They are told that TracFone doesn't support LTE and their order is being canceled with no refund of the $9.99 that they paid for the NAC and SIM. That's what happened to hukim0531, IsLand_BoY, Nicko99 and rchang
- Or they are told that their order is "incomplete" and asked to verify their address or the size SIM they need and then told a SIM will be shipped. When the SIM arrives it fails activation on the TracFone site with an error that "SIM serial number not found in the system" This is what happened to robhedrick and annepani. When robhedrick called TracFone he was told that his activation was failing because LTE is not available at their location. This is obviously a bogus excuse as the same phone in the same location gets LTE using a Verizon SIM.
So far we have one reported success and five failures from users trying to get LTE phones on to TracFone. There are a least six more users on Howard Forums who have ordered SIMs but haven't gotten them yet. So we may see some more successes or failures.
At this point I think that either LTE is something that TracFone is working on but isn't quite there yet or else coding errors on the TracFone BYOP page are allowing users to order SIMs for an LTE service that isn't supposed to be available on TracFone. If you're interested in putting a Verizon LTE phone on TracFone and have $10 to gamble, go for it. But I recommend waiting a few more weeks to see how this odyssey all shakes out.
Update 3/2/15: A second successful TracFone BYOP LTE activation has been reported. Howard Forums member rchang activated a Samsung Galaxy Nexus on TracFone. He did the activation online using a TracFone NAC and a Straight Talk Verizon SIM from eBay after TracFone cancelled his SIM order. It's interesting that a Straight Talk SIM worked. Using a readily available Straight Talk SIM could be faster and more reliable than trying to get TracFone to send you a SIM. It does double the cost however, $9.99 for the NAC plus $9.95 for the SIM. Straight Talk SIMs are also available from Walmart for $9.99.
Update 3/5/15: Four more successes.
- robhedrick finally got his Verizon Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini activated. The TracFone BYOP site had been giving him the error "SIM card serial number not found in system". He tried entering a different ZIP code and the activation succeed.
- larryoham12 successfully activated a Verizon iPhone 6 Plus using TracFone BYOP site using a TracFone NAC and a Straight Talk SIM.
- pbushx2 activated a Verizon Samsung Galaxy S3 on the TracFone BYOP site using a $6.99 NAC from saveontracfone.com and a Straight Talk SIM. He transferred service to the S3 from a TracFone LG Ultimate 2. Like robhedrick he had to use a different ZIP code than his own to get the system to accept his SIM ID.
- themotorman reported successful activation of a Verizon Motorola Moto G and a Droid Ultra. He didn't detail the process he followed.
The secret of activating a Verizon LTE on TracFone seems to be:
- Obtain a TracFone Network Access Code (NAC) from saveontracfone.com
- Get a Straight Talk CDMA SIM from eBay or Walmart
- Go to the TracFone BYOP site and enter the phone's IMEI, the SIM ID and your ZIP code when prompted (if you get an error try a different ZIP code).
- Choose the "I have a network access code" option and enter your NAC.
- Choose either the option to get a new phone number or to transfer service from an existing TracFone if you have one.
- If the process succeeds, the TracFone site will give you a set of instructions which are basically say to put the SIM in the phone, turn it on and try to make a call. If making a call fails reboot the phone and try again.
This process is not officially supported by TracFone so it's a gamble whether it will work or not. If you give it a try feel free to leave a comment letting us all know if it worked or not.