IMEI incompatible with US carriers

We just received our Pepwave MAX Transit Duo cat 12 from an online vendor today. I immediately grabbed the IMEI’s (there are two) and checked compatibility on Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Cricket. It appears it MIGHT be compatible on AT&T, but appears to not be compatible on the others. I expected this with Cricket based on info from the folks at the Mobile Internet Resource Center. However, I am concerned after Verizon and possibly AT&T might not be compatible.

Am I checking this correctly? I’m afraid I just purchased a router (and antenna) that I cannot use anywhere without a hack.

Verizon: Check Your Device's IMEI | Bring Your Own Device to Verizon

The phone associated with the Device ID you entered is not compatible with the Verizon Wireless network.

AT&T: IMEI Error

Your device is incompatible with eSIM. We’ve saved you a step and added the SIM card you need to your cart.

Note: Nothing was added to my cart.

T-Mobile: https://www.t-mobile.com/resources/bring-your-own-phone

Bummer! Your phone is not compatible with the T‑Mobile network and will experience no service. Your handset must be compatible with LTE and VoLTE to connect to our network. Please upgrade to a new T‑Mobile phone that can give you access to our best coverage and fastest speeds on our network.

Sierra Sierra Wireless EM7511U

Cricket: https://www.cricketwireless.com/cell-phones/bring-your-data-device\

Apologies! This Sierra Wireless EM7511U EM7511U is not compatible with the Cricket Network due to network changes. Please visit cricketwireless.com/3Gnetworkshutdown for more details or see your Cricket store rep.

For Verizon, have you tried starting here? Select “other device” and hit next. https://www.verizon.com/onedp/byod#/

That reports my Pepwave MAX BR1 MK2 is compatible. I don’t know how I even got to that page now. The site is so confusing I usually end up going round in circles getting nowhere.

If your device is compatible then you can move through the badly designed and confusing process to eventually get to choose a plan. Unfortunately it doesn’t help much if you want any significant amount of data without paying a fortune. They look promising but I think the router only gets the hotspot amount before being throttled to 2G speeds. That’s only 30 GB on the highest plan at $85. At least that’s what someone on ltehacks.com told me when I asked about this when I thought I’d found something usable.

For what it’s worth Visible, which is on Verizon, seems to work reasonably well in routers and I haven’t seen any reports of being shut down for device mismatch. I use it for my phone and temporarily put the SIM in the Pepwave and it worked quite well. You need to select “Generic” in the settings, not “Verizon” and I think the APN is VSBLINTERNET. Unfortunately, Visible speeds vary a lot from really good to almost unusable and latency is high but it can be a good deal at $25 (with party plan).

People also report success with Page Plus phone plans which is also on Verizon. They seem to have an unofficially cap at 200 GB.

For AT&T the “Unlimited Elite” postpaid phone plan seems to work, at least for now. There’s also the $20 postpaid tablet plan that is very popular on ltehacks but it seems that you really need to spoof the IMEI as a tablet to be safe with that one which I don’t think you can do with a Pepwave and is probably illegal although nobody on ltehacks seems to care about that.

The scary thing for me doing this sort of thing is not so much getting shut down but getting the IMEI blacklisted which makes the router an expensive brick on that network. I haven’t heard any specific reports of that happening but I think it could.

Sorry to be less than encouraging. I think the consumer market for this is so small compared to the phones that the carriers are not interested.

(I wonder if we connected on irv2.com. Ignore if that makes no sense.).

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Just to build a bit on @tetranz observations:

In our experience Verizon consumer plans, once you are on it, do not cut you off. (We have a bunch of post-paid plans, pulling lots of data. Mind you, being a bit careful about how they are used -TTL, VPNs and the like being in play). We had one line being problematic once, and a call to tech. support informing them that the line had been changed to a connected device did the trick.

Secondly, just doing the IMEI checks on the website, we had a bunch of HD2s and BR1s (LTE and LTEA) IMEIs entered into their checking system. All passed. But two Balance 20X devices did not.

FWIW,

Z

Peplink is an enterprise device. Many people try to use consumer plans but that should be the exception not the rule. For some it works. I think all the carriers offer business/enterprise plans?

That maybe true but you run into the same problem pretty much no matter what router you use. Just because Pepwave has a solid metal box and “enterprise” features doesn’t change that.

It seems odd that I should need an enterprise plan in my RV just because I want to use an antenna on the roof. In theory they won’t sell a business plan unless you have a registered business and I have no way to even really know what the enterprise plans are without talking to a corporate sales rep. Also, the business plans I have seen often have “not for entertainment purposes” in the fine print so no streaming TV.

This is why many people give up and use a tablet plan in a router where they can spoof the IMEI and use a VPN for additional sneakiness. I’ve even heard anecdotal reports of staff in the stores quietly telling people to do that. Obviously not an official recommendation but the whole situation is a mess. There are people on ltehacks openly bragging about doing 2 TB per month for $20.

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Hello. Just trying to educate myself on do’s and don’ts so i must ask what is an IMEI spoof? Or how does one spoof and IMEI? Isn’t the IMEI associated to the carrier SIM?
Thanks, your reply is appreciated.

It’s when you change the unique identifier of a device on the network so the carriers see it as something else. e.g., Move a SIM from an iPad to a router and make the router look like the iPad.

I think it’s illegal in the US and I don’t think you can do it with a Pepwave anyway so … probably not the sort of thing to talk about here.

That said, it seems to be a common practice for rural internet users mostly because AT&T’s $20 tablet plan is such a bargain and there are not many other options for the consumer customer.

It seems like that plan works okay without doing this but people do it as extra protection against being shut down because you never know when that could happen with an unapproved device.

Are there websites which give any details on these business/enterprise plans?

I know ATT has Wireless Broadband - Cradlepoint Router at AT&T Business. but that’s the only one I’ve seen details on. (they offer to sell a competitor’s router, but as far as I can tell this would work with a peplink device as well as it’s an official router plan.)

At least for Verizon you have to contact them to get the specifics. I chatted with them just now, and here’s the transcript of the pertinent pieces:

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Thanks for sharing this information. Please keep us posted if you hear back from the SA at Verizon.

Do you think the Arris router has features that are advantageous to the carrier to offer larger amounts of bandwidth with that router?

I have no knowledge about the Arris router, not even which model.

To insist that business subscribers not be able to deploy their own connection equipment seems a bad business model. Many (ours included) have internationally integrated systems that may depend on certain equipment choices being uniform across the enterprise.

I suppose they may consider small businesses (I gave him a 10-line basis for the cellular component) not worth the possible pain of having to support equipment they are not familiar with.

No reach-back from the SA yet.

Z.

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I’m the OP for this thread and wanted to follow up. We were able to get 3 working SIM cards and data-only plans directly from our local Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile stores for our Pepwave Max Transit Duo. All are working fine. The in-store reps are not always knowledgeable about data only plans, so it is helpful that you know what your options are beforehand.

In case others find themselves in the same situation, here are the details for our plans:

Verizon 15G data-only (Postpaid)
$20 per month
My cellphone plan is a postpaid plan through Verizon, so I’m not sure if this is available without an existing cellular plan. The sim card was correctly sized for the router and required no special action on my part for it to work. Just insert the sim, power up the device, and wait for it to connect. Easy peasy!

T-Mobile 100GB data-only (postpaid)
$50 per month
Activating this SIM requires sending a text message to either the number assigned to this SIM or another T-Mobile number. Since my cellphone is on Verizon, I was able to receive a text sent to to our data-only SIM using the SIM Toolkit feature in the Max Transit. You can access the SIM Toolkit via the router’s web console:
192.168.50.1 > Advanced Tab > SIM Toolkit (found at the bottom left in the Misc Settings section).
To see text messages, in the SIM Tookit, select:

  • WAN Connection for the T-Mobile SIM
  • Tool: SMS
    Once the SIM is activated, the router connects to the internet.

AT&T 20GB hotspot / data-only (1-year prepaid)
$25 per month prepaid for one year ($300)
I didn’t catch it at the time, but they provided a micro-SIM, which is too small for the Pepwave. I ordered a SIM adapter kit on Amazon for about $5. Once inserting the correctly sized SIM card, the router connected no problems.

There are a few other new hotspot plans available with AT&T, but the 1-year prepaid is the best value.

One thing to note is that after seeing these new plans available on the AT&T website, I immediately went to my local AT&T store. They only offered me the ridiculous data plans (something like $75 for 15GB). Only after I showed them the AT&T website did they tell me they are not a corporate store and I’d have to go to the corporate store to buy that plan.

Now we have 3 data plans working on the Pepwave router. We plan to use the T-Mobile as the primary with the Verizon and AT&T there as backups when we run into coverage issues. Since the data allowances are pretty small and cost was pretty low for the Verizon and AT&T, we decided to have both
plans for backup.

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Is the t-mobile one the “home” internet plan? If so, have you tested moving to different cell towers further away and seeing if it continues to function?

It is a hotspot plan, so it shouldn’t be locked to my home geo location. But, I honestly haven’t had a chance to test it out in the week that we’ve had the plan. I will finally hit the road with it over the weekend and let you know how it goes.

I think I am confusing it with: Fixed Wireless Home Internet Plan | T-Mobile Home Internet

Is the 100GB hotspot plan still available?

@mystery We just started our T-Mobile 100GB data plan a week ago (April 2nd), so I would assume it is still available. I wasn’t able to find it online, but I think I remember reading somewhere that you either have to visit a T-Mobile store or call in order to get it.

At home (we live in the city within a mile of a cell tower), the T-Mobile speeds have been at least as fast and sometimes better than Verizon and AT&T in occasional speed tests. I haven’t tested it on the road yet, so I’ll let you know how we fare with it after travel this weekend. My expectation is that we will run into T-Mobile coverage issues in some places where hopefully the Max Transit Duo will move to one of our backup SIMs-- Verizon or AT&T. Otherwise, this 100GB T-Mobile plan will be our primary.

I think it’s still available post paid but not (and never was) online. It was advertised as “limited time only” so it could disappear any time.

The prepaid version which was available online ended a couple of weeks ago. It’s now 50 GB for $50.
https://prepaid.t-mobile.com/prepaid-internet

@mystery We had a chance to take a trip with the Max Transit Duo this evening and can confirm that it connected to Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile away from our home. We were out in the boonies and had a very weak T-Mobile signal. I’m just realizing that the Max Transit Duo doesn’t use T-Mobile’s band 71. Bummer!

I have been using the T-Mobile 100g plan in my HD1 and Max Transit with out problems. I am also using the prepaid AT&T 100gb/$55 plan, which has been working great and then it shuts down for no reason. Still working though those issues.

I have also used Visible, which can be ok or super miserable (slow). I tend to leave visible on when I’m not on the boat for long-term low bandwidth connectivity. I’m using the other sims with better latency for zoom.