For those of you who thought my next blog post would be a deep, insightful glance into the human psyche, shame on you. I’m a techie 99.9% of the time and an armchair philosopher only 0.1%. Since there are less than 1000 posts on this blog, you’ll have to take the former.
So I have an unlocked first-generation (EDGE only) iPhone. A few days ago I updated the firmware to 2.2.1 and used PwnageTool to jailbreak it. The unlock was made a few years ago via iPhoneSIMFree (I resold that software). I’ve used AT&T and T-Mobile SIMs in the phone at different points; AT&T has better coverage around here and allows data on prepaid. Though neither carrier is perfect with coverage (particularly T-Mobile) and data speeds are slow (70-80 kbps on AT&T EDGE)
The local wireless provider, Five Star Wireless, got bought out by another semi-local provider, West Central Wireless, a few years back. As a result, the formerly CDMA (and before that TDMA) carrier has now overlaid their CDMA network with GSM. Since West Central Wireless’s original markets were GSM, for increased coverage nobody can sign up for CDMA pans from Five Star anymore. Which is okay, I guess; though I personally prefer CDMA to GSM a SIM card is a beautiful thing, I still get Five Star’s freaking-awesome coverage footprint (they should call themselves Five Bar Wireless…that’s what my phone shows most of the time)…and GSM is what the iPhone runs on.
But how do you get the iPhone working, including data, on West Central/Five Star? Follow the directions below. Thanks to Alex N at West Central Wireless support for his help son this! (isn’t it awesome when a local carrier knows how to put unlocked iphones onto its own network?):
- Buy an iPhone, jailbreak it and unlock it (there are plenty of tutorials on how to do this). You should end up with a few extra apps on your home screen, icnluding one called Cydia. You’ll need that in step 5.
- Sign up for a Five Star Wireless, West Central Wireless or Right Wireless plan. If you want data access, Right Wireless won’t work, but WCW’s data plans aren’t too expensive. If you don’t need/want data access, skip steps 4-6.
- Put in the WCW/FSW SIM card. In a few seconds you’ll get a nice GSM signal with EDGE. At this point you can make and receive calls and send/receive text messages. The one thing you don’t have yet is EDGE data however…
- Connect to the internet via WiFi. As said in step 3, EDGE doesn’t work yet; you’ll fix that in step 6.
- Open Cydia, go to Search and type in apn. The top result should be “APN Editing”. Tap that, then Install, then confirm, then the Home button when the installation finishes.
- Go to Settings, then General, then Network, then Cellular Data Network. Change the APN field to internet.wcc.net (it will most likely be wap.cingular to start with). Then hit the Home button.
That’s it! Steps 5 and 6 take about three minutes to complete. Now you have full service, including data, on Five Star Wireless/West Central Wireless. assuming you signed up for a data plan.
I will say that I’m disappointed with EDGE speeds so far with WCW’s network. Speeds are a good bit slower than dialup, at least on the iPhone, and latency is about 750ms to Softlayer, possibly a bit more than that. But it *is* internet, WiFi works in areas that have it and you’ll be able to get a solid signal practically anywhere WCW/FSW serve.
In closing, here’s a traceroute from the iphone to SoftLayer (better-connected than Google and in Dallas, so a better measure of connectivity by my book):
Traceroute to www.softlayer.com (220.127.116.11)
#1: static-253.wcc.net (18.104.22.168)
751.318 ms 791.188 ms 838.593 ms
#2: static-242.wcc.net (22.214.171.124)
737.393 ms 737.655 ms 773.961 ms
#3: wcn-bb1-sa.wcc.net (126.96.36.199)
774.339 ms 713.395 ms 768.281 ms
#4: wcn-new-bb4-dal-g1-0-0.wcc.net (188.8.131.52)
767.225 ms 718.975 ms 781.135 ms
#5: dal-edge-11.inet.qwest.net (184.108.40.206)
762.357 ms 710.568 ms 771.900 ms
#6: dal-core-02.inet.qwest.net (220.127.116.11)
775.516 ms 727.867 ms 757.894 ms
#7: dap-brdr-02.inet.qwest.net (18.104.22.168)
756.973 ms 695.671 ms 771.073 ms
#8: 22.214.171.124 (126.96.36.199)
769.434 ms 877.811 ms 909.364 ms
#9: te1-1.cer03.dal01.dallas-datacenter.com (188.8.131.52)
769.756 ms 674.180 ms 765.895 ms
#10: po3.dar02.dal01.dallas-datacenter.com (184.108.40.206)
764.481 ms 709.748 ms 981.959 ms
#11: po2.slr01.dal01.softlayer.com (220.127.116.11)
743.682 ms 638.818 ms 759.143 ms
#12: www.softlayer.com (18.104.22.168)
878.714 ms 799.764 ms 997.545 ms
In case you’re wndering, I used the $1.99 NetTools app to perform the above traceroute. The app isn’t terribly pretty, but it works.
One more thing: jailbreaking/unlocking your iPhone is legal, however AT&T/Apple don’t have to make it easy. Don’t upgrade your firmware until that firmware has been “pwnd”. Other than that, have fun!
Got any questions, clarifications, etc.? The comments are open 🙂