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Reinstalling U.S. SIM card: Could not activate cellular data network

Sorry if this has already been asked. We just returned from Spain where we got Lebara SIM cards for our Apple phones but when we put our U.S. SIM cards back in, my wife's iPhone 5 now displays a "Could not activate cellular data network" message when she tries to access Safari and the local Verizon store is stumped. Anyone know a fix other than what they suggested: backing up the phone and a full restart?

Posted by Nigel
Northamptonshire, England
18377 posts

take out the SIM. Rub the contacts gently on a microfibre cloth. Holding the card by the edges make sure it is oriented correctly, insert it carefully and be sure it goes all the way in.

But you've probably done all that.....

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
2087 posts

Verizon uses CDMA but in Europe you used GSM. I don't have an iPhone, but I am currently using a Verizon Android phone in the US on GSM networks. I had to put my Android into a special mode to use GSM not CDMA. Could be you must do something similar on an iPhone to tell it to use CDMA again. Did you have to do anything in Europe when you initially put the Lebara SIM cards in?

Posted by cubancoffee OP
Los Angeles
14 posts

Thanks Andrew I'll try to find out how to check/change those settings. The young man at the phone store in London did all the setting up of both our phones in about 30 seconds. We assumed that as a sort of diplomatic courtesy the folks at the Verizon store back in the U.S. would possess the same ability. Big mistake, it turns out.

Motorgirl, that sounds so complicated and I'm so technically inept.

Nigel, thanks. We'll try magic incantations if that might work.

Posted by Motorgirl
Boston, MA, United States
351 posts

I hear ya on the complicated comment. :-)

You might try the Apple Store next.

Posted by Peter
York, PA
300 posts

Seems pretty straight forward (from the iPhone 4 link)

Open the “Settings” of your iPhone

Go to the “General” Settings by tapping on General

You’ll find a reset button there – tap Reset to reset the network connections

That’s about it. Now restart your iPhone 4 and see if the error is fixed.

Of course that menu sequence might be specific to the 4...

Posted by cubancoffee OP
Los Angeles
14 posts

Peter, yes, that is so straightforward that I figured the Verizon dude would know to try it. (I wasn't there so don't know what all he did, but needless to say I no longer have blind confidence in Verizon dudes.) I wish I could say I got a chance to try it myself, but the wife did her own fiddling, and then downloaded a software update, and now everything's working fine. So we'll never really know what cured it exactly. Thanks all for all the helpful suggestions and sorry for the time waste.