Switch Mobile Phone Providers – a small adventure


I had been with Vodafone for many years after first having a mobile phone with Telstra.  While price isn’t the biggest determining factor, it is true that I moved 10 years ago because Vodafone’s capped plans were very economical.  However, coverage and service has not been great; until a few months ago it was all but impossible to use my mobile phone in my house.  Ironically, the coverage is getting better just as I want to switch.

Internode has offered a mobile phone service on the Optus network for several months and recently enabled international roaming, a prerequisite for us as we travel to Japan about every year.  Internode has a current promotion “Summer SIM” where you can get 6 months of a $20 plan free if you sign up a new broadband, new NodeLine telephone, new FetchTV or extend a current contract for one of those.  As I’ve been with Internode since 2004 and I’m about to be upgraded to NBN FTTH, I was happy to sign a new 2 year contract.

The end of my final Vodafone contract was 3 December 2012.  So I contacted Internode the week before to arrange for 2 SIMs.  Immediately I received an email from Australia Post informing me of the progress of the parcel.  On Tuesday I received the SIMs.  (Special thanks to the extended opening hours of the Aust Post parcel pickup at Mitchell.)

Activation of the SIMs was a straightforward call to Internode.  I was even informed that Vodafone were usually quite prompt at switching  over… no doubt they’ve had plenty of practice recently.  However, the precise time of transfer was anything from 15 minutes to 5 working days.  Nothing to do but wait.

Next morning “Voda AU” still appeared as my carrier.  I had planned to take the SIMs to work (I had no idea which SIM was my number at which was my wife’s) and fit them when the transfer happened.  It wouldn’t have mattered if I had taken them.

As soon as I got home I put one of the SIMs into my phone.  Result: No Service.  Went outside to see if I could get a better signal and received an Invalid SIM error.

Called Internode.  Nice man asked if my iPhone was unlocked…

Rang Vodafone but soon found their unlock page.  First part was easy; enter the IMEI and the security code and within 15 minutes to 1 or 2 days (getting faster) the unlock will occur.  Second part involved a full Restore of each iPhone using iTunes.

Fortunately the two phones sync with two different computers, so I could run them together.  HINT: Always transfer purchases from the iPhone to iTunes before you sync, restore or update.  However the fun didn’t stop there because of these seemingly innocuous details:

  • My wife’s phone hadn’t been updated to iOS 6.0.1
  • I had just updated my iTunes to 11

Try a restore process when the iPhone wants to be updated and you’ll see what I mean.  I think that I repeated it 3 times.  It was never clear that the restore from backup was working.  I had to watch as the icons and the amount of free space filled in to get any sense of things happening.

And iTunes 11 might have a simplified UI, but I got lost quite quickly. I had to Google to find out how to transfer purchases from the iPhone (1. click on the upper left box and select “Show Menu Bar”. 2. MENU: File > Devices > Transfer Purchases…)

The restore factory settings followed by restoring from backup only goes so far.  Then you need to Sync to get your library in there.  Now I started to see the phones return to a familiar appearance.  An update to the carrier details file and it looked like the job was done.

After a 3 hour operation I finally had 2 phones working on a new network. Internode (ISP)

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