Drako's Wireless Review
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Posts : 30
Join date : 2019-11-19
Age : 38
Location : Seattle, WA, USA

Reasons to be wary of BYOD still exist thanks to Apple Empty Reasons to be wary of BYOD still exist thanks to Apple

Fri Feb 26, 2021 8:52 pm
Reasons to be wary of BYOD still exist thanks to Apple

Something grabbed my attention after opening my account with my smaller MVNO Carrier (Hello Mobile)
I was seeing complaints of iOS users not able to use advanced features like MMS, group chats, VoLTE, and Visual Voicemail.
I was seeing other complaints of iOS users not able to connect to 5G or LTE.
It appeared to be hit or miss as to which iOS devices were missing which features, even though the network does in fact support them.

I had a similar issue rise up right after Tello migrated my iPhone SE (that I bought from refurbished from Tello) from Sprint to T-Mobile using their new wholesale agreement with T-Mobile.
I was able to access LTE, but did not get VoLTE or MMS. (I never really tried Facetime or iMessage.)

Then something else popped up:
Reports of similar issues from Blackberry (BBOS) devices and Samsung (OneUI) devices on many smaller MVNOs, including Tello and Hello Mobile.

The common caveat?
Either the devices were former Sprint devices being migrated to T-Mobile's network or were BYOD devices.
The odd part, in nearly all BYOD issues, the devices were "factory unlocked." (Sold "unlocked" directly from Samsung, Apple, ect.)

But why would these devices work fine on Sprint MVNOs, but suddenly "break" on other MVNO's that use ATT or T-Mobile?
(Most the issues were common to ATT/T-Mobile MVNOs)
I did some digging to find out something interesting.
Sprint's wholesale agreements with their MVNO's were setup to give those MVNO's Sprint "prepaid" SIM cards.
Essentially, all SIMs were Sprint branded SIMs and treated with the same priority as Virgin and Boost.
(This did lead to some other issues, like strange arbitrary limits even on advertised "unlimited plans, similar billing issues as to what Sprint became known for and considered a SCAM due to, among other issues.)
This is because Sprint used their own SIMs and treated the MVNO's as prepaid customers, not wholesale customers.
(This also allowed iPhones to load up the Sprint carrier pack for all Sprint MVNO's.)

The other carriers have wholesale agreements with their MVNO's that make the MVNO's their own wholesale brand.
This allows the carriers to prioritize the MVNO's lower than their own prepaid divisions and brands.
This also means that each carrier gets it's own branded SIM card and is now recognized as a seperate carrier/entity than that of the parent network.

This is where the issue comes into light.
Under the agreements MVNOs have with T-Mobile/ATT, they are treated as a full carrier with a wholesale agreement that allows them to use the parent networks.
This means each carrier gets its own branded SIM, which allows each carrier to provision the SIM to have their own names used as the Network name Status on devices.

What does this mean for iOS?
Well, iOS now sees a carrier name they don't recognize or have official support from Apple.
This means the iOS device cannot load the proper carrier pack to make the iPhone work properly and offer all features to customers of these MVNOs.

Apple seems to have designed iOS devices to only load carrier packs from recognized/supported carriers, allowing the iPhones to completely ignore incoming settings from the SIM card - including APN settings - unless the carrer is supported by Apple and has its own carrier pack from Apple.
This is true even if the carrier is an MVNO using a wholesale SIM card from a parent network that is supported by Apple.

In essence, Apple has made it so that iPhones will not work on ANY carrier that does not have some sort of direct agreement with Apple.
Evidence of this was when H2O wireless also had this issue, and one of their updates regarding getting these services was, and I quote:
"iPhone MMS (Pending) - Currently in negotiations with Apple."

Yet, the issues were not limited to H2O:
There were reports from Red Pocket Mobile, Airvoice Wireless, Google Fi, and at least one other unnamed MVNO.
And now we're seeing customer reports of the same exact issues on smaller T-Mobile MVNO's like Tello and Hello Mobile.
Tello has even confirmed that many features are not available to iOS users on their network.

It's also not limited to the US.
I was reading reports of the Belgium Council of Ministers targeting Apple and "its practices aimed at protecting its preferred partners."

"Prepaid Wireless providers Straight Talk, Net10, Cricket, Pure TalkUSA , Consumer Cellular, and ATT's own Prepaid brand are the only providers whose SIM cards are supposedly known to work correctly with the proper APN's automatically set right for data and MMS out of the box. All others will not work, and will in fact require many of you to jump through hoops, such as setting up a profile on Unlockit.co.nz just to get your data working properly without functioning MMS."

We need to remember:
"Apple has long had a partnership with ATT that even predates the iPhones initial launch in 2007, a time when the iconic phone could only be purchased and used through ATT. That exclusive relationship remained for several years, seemingly coming to an end in early 2011."

"The issue is fairly similar to the requirement BlackBerry had on BB OS. Carriers had to have an agreement in place (unsure if monetary or not as we didn’t investigate) in order to receive access to BlackBerry’s APN settings."

Now before we continue, we should note this:
"Apple has a long track record of milking everyone and everything out of every last cent that it possibly can."

"This would explain why many MVNO's still don't have MMS working with Apple, because they won't pay to play. If this is in fact the case, I say good for them for not caving into Apple. Of course at the same time, it must be hard for them to not be able to service that potential customer base."

"What makes this whole thing even more ridiculous if true, is that this happens with UNLOCKED iPhones!!
How is it even legal to sell a device as being "unlocked" when it can't really be used on all carriers because it is in fact partially locked down?"

To make it worse, the MVNO's tend to adopt the same billng, voicemail, IMEI checkers, and other systems from their parent networks:
So the MVNO's - especially the smaller ones - have no reason to suspect that your iPhone will not work right with their service until enough people try to get them activated and report that it's not working right or missing features.

The only MVNO's that may have their own billing and other systems may be multi carrier MVNO's (those who use multiple carriers) and those that tunnel customer traffic into their own servers - something many smaller MVNO's will not have the capacity to accomplish. (Google Fi has its own billing and other systems, but as of the writing of this - is also the only MVNO that has their own SIMs that will actively switch between parent networks on supported "Made for Fi" devices.)

Since Apple's agreement with MVNO's has been reported to require the carrier to sell (new) iPhones.
(Apple was reported to only allow iPhone recycling services to destroy older devices.)
If you want to BYOD your iPhone to a new carrier, check to see if they sell iPhones - if not, then your iPhone may not work properly on that carrier.
Even if their parent network does allow the iPhone to work well.

The strange thing is that in many cases, only certian (usually newer) iPhones with certain iOS versions would actually have these issues, while older iPhones/iOS versions would work just fine. At least, thats what's been reported by many users and even some of those who represented the MVNO's that were affected.

Now while ATT and Apple have both refused to comment on any articles out there relating to this issue:
Apple itself has publishesd its own list of "Officially Supported Carriers" that lists which carriers they support directly (and have agreements with) along with the features available for each carrier. (Not all carriers get all features either, even if the parent networks do.)

So while it looks like Apple is the biggest player in the role reversal from a decade ago:
The time when carriers made the device manufacturers design the devices to work specifically for their networks, but also lock those devices to said networks.

Now the carriers can have "certified devices" - which essentially means the device was designed to work well with that carrier's network, but may also have enough support to be used, and work well with, other carriers.
My case in point here is my Hello Mobile phone, bought from HM is the NUU X6 Plus. It's Verizon Certified and even has direct references to Verizon's network in the settings, but it's working wonderfully on HM's T-Mobile network - using their PWG branded SIM.

Coming back to today, it appears that the device manufacturers have found a way to "lock down" their devices to only work on "Approved/Supported" carriers.
To make it worse, the reports are not limited to Apple.
It appears Blackberry and Samsung may be guilty as well. (Particularly Samsung devices using OneUI.)
At least according to user reports on Reddit.

This means that even if your device is unlocked, it may not work well - or get all supported features - on every carrier, even if that carrier is an MVNO of a parent network that can get/support all those features. All so manufacterers can make agreements, that may require monetary compensation to the device makers, directly with the carrers to offer those features. In essence holding us consumers as hostages in their own game.

We never even got into detail as to how you my not actually own that iPhone that you just dropped $1500 for, much less how you don't really have the right to repair the device at all. But we'll throw links to the articles outlining this in our sources below.

Just like we never even mentioned that if Apple were to actually go ahead and create their own MVNO that has been rumored for years - the iPhone's could all suddenly stop working on EVERY OTHER CARRIER. Just so Apple could then possibly force all iPhone users to only buy into their own wireless service.

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