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What Does "Clear/Clean ESN" Mean?

Discussion in 'GENERAL Wireless Discussion' started by RadioRaiders, Jan 18, 2010.

  1. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt Junior Member Senior Member

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    I was looking at some CDMA phones on ebay and some say they have a "clear" or "clean" ESN and sometimes they say that the phone has a "bad" ESN. I understand the ESN is a unique identifier or serial number of the phone similar to an IMEI in GSM terms... but how can an ESN be "clear" or "bad" and what impact does that mean when it comes time to activate the phone? :confused:
     
  2. Charlyee

    Charlyee Ultimate Insanity Super Moderator Senior Member

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    A "clear" ESN means that that the device can be activated with the proper provider. A "bad" ESN phone cannot be, it has been pegged for stolen, payment due, lost, and a variety of other reasons.

    If you are looking for a phone for parts, then you can take the chance on "bad" ESN (although I wouldn't, not knowing the reason behind it), since they are typically cheaper.
     
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  3. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt Junior Member Senior Member

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    Thanks. Is there any way to check if the ESN is good or bad without activating it? ie: if I ask the seller to give me the ESN can I somehow check if the ESN is bad/good? ...and what if the phone is (ex) a Sprint phone and has a "bad" ESN, can I take it to Verizon and ask them to activate it?
     
  4. Charlyee

    Charlyee Ultimate Insanity Super Moderator Senior Member

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    Supposedly every provider keeps a list, although the accuracy of that list has been questioned a few times on this board itself; it is a worth try though.

    Unfortunately, a Sprint phone will not/can not be activated by Verizon even if the ESN is good, so the answer is *no*. CDMA is very restrictive from that sense.

    Why this sudden interest in CDMA? :)
     
  5. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt Junior Member Senior Member

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    I'm looking at buying a BlackBerry Tour which is a CDMA phone with GSM/UMTS capabilities for people travelling overseas,, but I'm looking at it from the other perspective: as a GSM/UMTS phone with CDMA capabilities for someone travelling overseas ;) ... so then if I buy a Sprint branded BlackBerry, I won't be able to use it on Verizon? Since I'd just use the CDMA occasionally (or never) which would be better for a pre-paid connection, a Sprint or Verizon branded phone? (oh, there's an Alltel phone there too...)
     
  6. Charlyee

    Charlyee Ultimate Insanity Super Moderator Senior Member

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    Yes, that is correct you will not be able to use it on Verizon.

    I don't know about CDMA pp, or even if Verizon, Sprint etc allow pp for BBs. Why not a quad band GSM with triband 3G, like my 9700 for one. What are you hoping to get from the Tour that a GSM BB will not give you? We do have GSM in the US you know. :p

    BB 9700 vs BB Tour
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
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  7. M in LA

    M in LA Super Moderator Super Moderator Senior Member

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    CDMA carriers are notoriously fickle about what they'll let on their networks. If you buy a Verizon Tour, when you're in the US, it would roam on Verizon's network and likely not allow you to roam on Sprint, and vice versa.

    Verizon locks the GSM side of their phones (with this capability) for specific roaming on Vodafone. Sprint apparently does not lock their Tour's GSM side, but I'm not sure what that means for the US frequencies. From what I've read, there is no US 3G frequency on the GSM side. But as far as the Sprint Tour is concerned, you can use it on any carrier you wish while traveling outside the US on the GSM side. Far be it from Verizon to be as open about the GSM side as Sprint is...:rolleyes:

    As far as prepaid on the CDMA side, not possible as Verizon is even pickier about what phones can be activated on prepaid. Sprint doesn't have "prepaid" exactly. They farm out their "prepaid" network to Virgin Mobile and others. So they would be the ones to ask about CDMA prepaid. But in truth, it's better to use the GSM side while in the US (for prepaid) as it's a lot less of a hassle than CDMA.
     
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  8. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt Junior Member Senior Member

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    ...about $200 more in my pocket after purchace :p ...seriously, you're right, if $ was no object, I'd go with the 9700. Tri-band UMTS and wifi is a big plus. Also the USB and headset jack is on the upper left side, which is nicer than the Tours right side location :O. But anyway, as mentioned, the Tour is $200 less and does have 2100 UMTS which is what I'll use the most. Plus I was curious to experiment with CDMA, and thought I'd give pre-paid CDMA a shot next time I was state-side.


    Ah, good point. Looks like Sprint then. Which is good in a way, since I'm always for giving the little guy a shot....
     
  9. M in LA

    M in LA Super Moderator Super Moderator Senior Member

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    RR, one important note. I've been researching if the US GSM side of Sprint's Tour is actually locked. From what I keep coming up with, it is. It makes sense as Sprint would not want people using its BB with AT&T or T-Mobile. Apparently just the world frequencies are unlocked out of the gate, with an automatic switchover when the phone detects an outside US frequency.

    EDIT: The SIM card slot on Sprint's Tour is locked, but the ability of the phone to select multiple networks, while abroad, is what's open. Unlike Verizon's, which as I said, will only choose Vodafone. But apparently it's very easy to unlock the Tour for use on ANY GSM carrier.
     
  10. Charlyee

    Charlyee Ultimate Insanity Super Moderator Senior Member

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    Verizon's GSM side is locked in the US as well but it is not that difficult to get unlock codes for Blackberries, besides I believe RR wants to use the CDMA side in the US and the GSM side in Europe. ;)
     
  11. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt Junior Member Senior Member

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    ...actually most of the Tours on ebay say they are "unlocked", so I think it should be OK. I'll confirm with the seller before buying anyway. But thanks...
     
  12. M in LA

    M in LA Super Moderator Super Moderator Senior Member

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    I'm now learning the ins and outs of these quad-band GSM CDMA Blackberry's. I wondered how they really worked, and after a little more research, I understand it now.

    So (more for reference) the GSM side is locked by both Sprint and Verizon. It can easily be unlocked for GSM SIMs from any provider.

    What is unlocked on Sprint's Tour is the availability of choosing any foreign network to use versus Verizon locking foreign roaming to Vodafone only.
     
  13. COtech

    COtech Bronze Senior Member Senior Member

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    When you remember that Vodafone owns 45% of VZW, it makes a great deal of sense.

    COtech
     
  14. M in LA

    M in LA Super Moderator Super Moderator Senior Member

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    Oh, I agree, but it still limits user choices when traveling, especially if Vodafone isn't the strongest (or cost effective) carrier in a particular country. IMO, typical self-centered motivation by Verizon and not to user friendly.
     
  15. RJB

    RJB Gold Senior Member Senior Member

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    Even if you buy an unlocked BB you can't just come to the USA and get on the Sprint or Verizon network and use it. You would have to have a current plan with Sprint &/or Verizon. If you are wanting to use CDMA here I would suggest picking up a pre paid phone.

    I enjoyed using my Tour once I got it unlocked when I used it. I have AT&T for work and I was able to press three buttons and I could switch between VZW and AT&T. I thought that was fun.
     
  16. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt Junior Member Senior Member

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    Yea, I'm still confused about the GSM part being "unlocked". If it's "unlocked" that should mean any SIM card should work in it. What networks you can roam on is a different story. Whic I think ebay sellers are confused/mislead about as well. I contacted one seller who was selling a bunch of "GSM factory unlocked" Tour phones if I could use it with an AT&T SIM card, and he replied "it is gsm internationally unlocked. But not for the usa so ATT or t mobile will NOT work."
    ...so then it IS locked, if I can not use it with ANY SIM card then, right? :confused:

    How did you unlock it to use with your AT&T SIM?
    ...and yea, using a pre-paid GSM SIM card would be alot easier when visiting the US. But I never used a CDMA phone and I'm just curious how it works.

    Usually when an operator is part of a global "franchise" that operates in several countries (ex: Vodafone, Hutchinson, Orange, etc.) they give roamers from other affiliate networks the best prices when roaming, so a verizon customer roaming on Vodafone in Europe will probably have the best rates compared to all other networks (actually I think Hutchinson "3" has a flat rate in all thier networks globally). The only problem would be if you visit an area where Vodafone has no/poor coverage and you wouldn't be allowed to manually select a operator who has better coverage (even tho the rates may be more)
     
  17. COtech

    COtech Bronze Senior Member Senior Member

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    You are being a bit short sighted here. Yes, your AT&T SIM will work fine in the handset; but the handset's radios can't operate on AT&T. Those dual-digital world phone models operate with CDMA on 850 and 1900 MHz, and GSM on 900 and 1800 MHz. AT&T doesn't have any 900 and 1800 MHz licenses in the USA.

    It's a dual band CDMA phone, and a dual band GSM phone in the same housing. You could use it for European roaming on your AT&T SIM since the GSM side's subsidy unlocked.

    COtech
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2010
  18. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt Junior Member Senior Member

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    No, it's Quad-band GSM: 850/900/1800/1900
    BlackBerry Tour 9630 - Full phone specifications
    ...so that's not the issue. The issue is the confusion of a "normal SIM locked" phone and the "locked to certain GSM (ie: Vodafone) networks when roaming abroad"...

    It would also be nice to use it with my "home European" SIM card when visiting the US, and then have a pre-paid CDMA service, then I could use one device, CDMA for local calls and still be able to check my GSM line in the same phone without having to swap SIM cards.
     
  19. viewfly

    viewfly Mobile RF Advisor Senior Member

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    Thanks Mike. That explains a confusing map that my friend found when comparing a Verizon world phone vs ATT world phones. He found a map somewhere ( I can dig it up) that shows that the world coverage map of a Verizon world phone was significantly smaller than ATT's. I thought that Verizon would roam on all GSM carriers...but if it is only Vodafone, then the map does make some sense.

    He is a Verizon user, thinking of switching to ATT. Travels a lot. I thought the maps were wrong, but perhaps they were not. They were on the respective web pages though, if I remember correctly. I thought they were outdated.
     
  20. viewfly

    viewfly Mobile RF Advisor Senior Member

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    I remember the program I had to unlock GSM phones a while back. During the unlocking process, one had the choice of different levels of 'unlocking'. In general it went like this:

    1. General unlock for any sim and any carrier
    2. Unlocked for any SIM, but locked to carrier
    3. Unlocked for any carrier, but locked for SIM.
    4. some other choices.

    I remember that one had to chose carefully to get the general unlock.
    Maybe this is what you are finding.

    Maybe this is what you are finding.
     
  21. Charlyee

    Charlyee Ultimate Insanity Super Moderator Senior Member

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    Yes, you are right. The Verizon Tour is locked to Vodaphone in Europe, no different than my 9700 being locked to At&T in this country. Unlocking a Verizon tour will enable you to use it with any GSM provider's SIM, not just in Europe. In fact one of our fellow forumites just did that and used it with an AT&T prepay card.

    As for the Sprint Tour, there appears to be some confusion, supposedly it was to be sold unlocked but did not happen initially, I am not sure what the status is now.

    In any case a true Factory Unlocked Tour is exactly what you think it is, useable with any GSM provider; perhaps the seller was cautioning you that it does not have US 3G.
    Here is one of the many BB Unlocking site. I haven't used any of them since I got my unlock code from AT&T.


    This is great resource for Blackberry's, you might find it helpful.
     
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  22. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt Junior Member Senior Member

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    ...actually, I contacted about 5 or 6 ebay sellers who were selling the Tour en masse (ie: had 10 or more for sale) and I got some really wild responses, which showed me they were just selling boxes and had no idea what was inside them :rolleyes: I finally bought one (Verizon branded) from a seller who gave me a competent answer and assured me it was fully unlocked and that he would test it with an AT&T SIM card before sending it :highclap: ...he aslo assured me the ESN was clean, but is there anyway that I could check that myself, without actually activating the phone? ie: can I call Verizon and tell them my ESN and ask the status of it?

    ...oh, also, does anyone know any MVNO's who do pre-paid who would accept a Verizon banded phone? (I guess I should check my own MVNO list, eh? ;) ...but maybe update it first, I haven't checked for new MVNO's in about a year :O )
     
  23. M in LA

    M in LA Super Moderator Super Moderator Senior Member

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    This thread has been really helpful to me, as I now understand what these CDMA "world phone" devices really mean.

    What's unlocked and what isn't. Actually clarifying what "unlocked" actually entails, at the same time helping out RR in the process. :D

    I feel like I should be doin' some homework right 'bout now as I've been schooled! ;)
     
  24. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt Junior Member Senior Member

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    Yea, definitely interesting and useful. But I wouldn't say anyones been "schooled" it more like a group of people putting the pieces of a puzzle together.... that's what I like about forums ;)
     
  25. RJB

    RJB Gold Senior Member Senior Member

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    Ok let's say you buy a Tour with the GSM side unlocked. You will for sure be able to use whatever SIM card you want in it. GSM would be fine I think we can establish that.

    Now about the CDMA side of things. If you want to use the CDMA side with either Sprint or Verizon you have to have an active line of service with them. You can't simply get on the network and use it the way you could GSM. As a matter of fact Verizon and Sprint would require you to sign a contract and pay for voice/ data monthly to use this phone. That is just how it is done, unfortunately, this is why a prepay phone would be your best option. The Tour is a postpaid phone not prepay.

    Hopefully that makes sense.

    I contacted Verizon and they provided me with the unlock code. Sprint will also do this as well. You have to be a current customer though.
     
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  26. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt Junior Member Senior Member

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    Thanks. I think I'm beginning to understand. I'm coming from the GSM world, where as long as your phone is unlocked and supports the right frequency bands, then it can be used with any network anywhere (as you pointed out in your first sentence).

    I knew the CDMA world was more "restrictive" but I thought with the recent financial crisis and shift to pre-paid service that it would be getting easier from the CDMA pre-paid point of view. I see MetroPCS offers to re-flash any phone to their network, but the catch is data is excluded and it's only for 1700Mhz phones :( ...I contacted a bunch of CDMA pre-paid providers (Virgin Mobile, Jitterbug, etc) and so far they all said they would only activate phones sold by them (ie: not any Verizon or Sprint branded phones) :( ...so basically, it comes back to CDMA phones can only be used on the network they are branded for? :confused:

    ...in that case, I could use it with Verizon pre-paid service then, right? $1/day seems pretty good, even if the minimum $15 refill expires at the end of every month. Can I use any Verizon branded phone with their pre-pay, or only the pre-pay phones they offer on the website? (No mention of internet/data connection tho...?)
     
  27. M in LA

    M in LA Super Moderator Super Moderator Senior Member

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    Sorry RR, but no. Think about it, why would Verizon make it easy for anybody to use any phone with their prepaid service? As far as I know, they won't let you activate smartphones on prepaid, especially Blackberry's. They are very picky about what phones they allow on prepaid. They want to keep people from using just any phone. After all, they want to make money...:rolleyes: Looks like it's just the prepaid phones on their website. :thumbsdow
     
  28. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt Junior Member Senior Member

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    ...I'm starting to remember why I like the GSM world with the "pop any SIM card in any phone" and you're good to go. I use pre-paid GSM SIM cards in my current BlackBerry all the time. Sometimes I don't have full access to RIM specific stuff like the push e-mail or BB browser, but anyway I use Gmail and Opera browser, which works fine on any phone as long as the operator allows pre-paid data (by the MB).

    ...anyway, back to Verizon and a no-contract BlackBerry: what's the option then if I'm just coming to visit the US for a few weeks then? As stated a pre-paid GSM SIM would be too easy. I want to learn all the sufferings of CDMA ;) ...could I sign up for a "regular" $70/month ($40 talk / $30 data) plan with Verizon, use it one month and then cancel it? Do they charge $ to activate/terminate? Do I need to wait for a credit check or something? :confused:
     
  29. COtech

    COtech Bronze Senior Member Senior Member

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    Yes, MetroPCS has a list of phones that can be flashed, and a list of locations it can be done at. Another catch is this will only be done in their PCS markets, where off-brand (non MetroPCS dual band CDMA) phones can work. This MetroFLASH service is not available in their AWS band (1700/2100 MHz) only license areas:
    "MetroFLASH is currently not available in Bossier City, LA; Western & Northern, MI; the Boston & the New York market areas."

    COtech
     
  30. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt Junior Member Senior Member

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    Oh, right, I had it backwards, it's 1900MHz phones that could be flashed. I guess that makes sense nobody else has 1700MHz CDMA phones anyway :O

    ...looks like they use this software to flash their phones. I guess you could flash it at home yourself also? :confused: I also read somepeople could activate Sprint/Verizon phones on MetroPCS just by doing a *228 PRL update. ...:confused: ...according to Verizon, it does some type of OTA update PRL and some other stuff
     

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