iPhone activation problems widespread, serious (updated x3) | iLounge News


iPhone activation problems widespread, serious (updated x3)

Following yesterday’s rollout of Apple’s iPhone on AT&T’s wireless mobile phone network, many once-excited customers found themselves frustrated and disappointed after activation-related delays prevented use of their new $499 and $599 devices. As pointed out by iLounge reader Steve Rubel, and confirmed by two iLounge editors with similar issues, a large number of first-day iPhone customers have fanned out across the Internet to describe failures by AT&T to properly start service on the new phones. The issues are officially being attributed to overwhelming demand for the iPhone, and an AT&T representative confirmed to iLounge this morning that “virtually all AT&T stores sold out” of iPhone yesterday; spot checks this morning indicated that Apple Stores, which generally received much larger allocations of iPhones, vary from sold out of one capacity (typically 8GB) to having either or both in stock.


The iPhone, which requires a one-time download of iTunes 7.3, must go through a several-step online activation process before any of its iPod, Internet, or phone features can be used. Failure to activate the phone renders it useful only for “emergency calls,” and disables the remainder of its features; the activation process must be repeated, with fewer steps, each time the phone’s software is updated. If AT&T’s automated service, linked to through iTunes, fails to activate or re-activate the phone in a prompt manner, it will not be usable.



Discussions on Apple’s support forms now describe quoted wait times of “up to 24 hours” for activation, as well as numerous other issues relating to conversion of Individual Plans to Family Plans. Though 5 of our 7 iPhones activated properly, iLounge’s editors are currently attempting to get activation issues resolved with the other 2, and will update this article as appropriate.

Update: A second AT&T representative has told iLounge that a team of AT&T engineers has been manually working around the clock to process the flood of delayed activation requests experienced last night, which were described as falling into the “change of account type from individual to family” and “number portability” categories. Wait times range from 6 to 9 to 24 hours based on the category of account change; iLounge received a “24 hours” notice on a ported number. More straightforward iPhone accounts are typically set up via iTunes in minutes.

Updates 2 and 3: One of iLounge’s 2 long-activation iPhones was activated successfully after 18 hours. The other took roughly 40 hours, and five phone calls, since the first attempt on Friday night, and has now been fully activated.

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I had lengthy delays last night because the credit approval process through iTunes would not complete itself—it didn’t decline or make any other determination—it just would not finish.  Because the Apple control freaks don’t allow use of the device without total activation I made the HUGE mistake of activating the phone on a prepaid account.  I went to the Cingular store today to transfer it to a post-paid account.  They were able to finish the credit approval process in the store, but they now say I have to wait 30 days to convert from a pre- to a post-paid account.  I spent three hours dealing with this today and the problem is not fixed.  If Apple had let me use the rest of the device without the phone I would have waited.  They have great products, but their customer service other than in their stores is really about the worst I experience anywhere.  I mean they really just don’t have any do they?  It’s like—you bought it.  It’s yours.  Deal with it.

Posted by sgoff on June 30, 2007 at 4:51 PM (CDT)


Everyone who has this problem, i have the solution. Go to an AT&T store, and tell the rep that you need to have a rate plan selected on your account, have them set you up manually and assign a new sim card. when u get home, plug the iphone back in, and it will ask you if you for your cell phone #. enter that, then u get an error message telling you to replace the sim card. get the sim card the rep gave you, pop it in, and plug the iphone back in. then enter your phone number again, and the phone activates.

Posted by andre on June 30, 2007 at 4:59 PM (CDT)


Mine was dead out of box then told had to ship back for repair. THEN found out ATT was not avail in our area. Did get money back after rasing a big stink infront of about 35 people in the store

Posted by Gary on June 30, 2007 at 5:25 PM (CDT)


ya gotta put this porpblems into perspective…

some delays are expected to happen when millions of people (or however many they iPhones sold in a SINGLE DAY!) are trying to activate their phones at the SAME TIME.

it’s like going to the store the day after Boxing Day (in Canada) to return stuff.  the lines will be longer than those you were waiting for to get into the store in Boxing Day.

Posted by will_bc on June 30, 2007 at 5:29 PM (CDT)


Update…previous ATT customer…no change…going on 22 hours…

I have activation, just no cell service…Still shows a Treo on my ATT login page…

It’s like that commercial “did anyone tell the IT guys we’re gonna launch a new phone on Friday???”


Posted by David Rubinoff on June 30, 2007 at 5:41 PM (CDT)


OK…what exactly does it mean to turn the phone completely off?? Airplane mode?

Posted by David Rubinoff on June 30, 2007 at 5:43 PM (CDT)


AT&T now says it will take up to 48 hours to activate the phone. Everytime I call they up the amount of time.

Meanwhile, I’ve been on hold with Apple iPhone Activation for 1 1/2 hours.

Posted by Ryan on June 30, 2007 at 6:09 PM (CDT)


My activation was flawless, including porting my Verizon number.  The whole thing took about ten minutes!  but I must have just missed the big crush, as I rushed home to activate immediately.

As for turning the phone off, press and hold the sleep/wake button on the top of the phone for two seconds and the phone will then fully power off.  It will ask you to slide it off as well, after you do the press and hold thing.

Posted by random person on June 30, 2007 at 6:31 PM (CDT)


Problems activating the phone.. still, and 8 hours later no resolve other than “it will happen.”  I’m going to assume this is later than sooner.  You know, GSM phones are based on SIM cards.  All you have to do is swap cards in every other phone.  So, the question is… WHY DO WE HAVE TO DO ANY OF THIS?  So Apple can line their pockets with more money?  I can call 611 customer care and change my plan myself, or do it online.  Why do I need to involve Apple at all.  They aren’t my provide.  They just make the phone.  Do I have to call Motorola to activate a RAZR?

Posted by Dan on June 30, 2007 at 6:33 PM (CDT)


Woo-hoo…I’m working…22 hours later… to repeat, I received activation email in 2 minutes last night..

I just pulled out sim and put in my deactivated treo..the sim worked so i started to get pissy at apple…put it back in iphone and I now have service…Maybe a coincidence?? Try it if u can…

Now I need to stop reaching for my stylus!!

Posted by David Rubinoff on June 30, 2007 at 6:37 PM (CDT)


I’ve been wondering if there was some “pattern” to these activation waits. After reading these comments—apparently not. Like many others, I’m a longtime AT&T customer, not changing my number. And have been waiting for almost 19 hours. I only wish I was consoled by knowing others are in a similar void—but I just want all of us to get “activated” soon.

Posted by Cindy Wall on June 30, 2007 at 6:46 PM (CDT)


Cindy, I was 22 hours…not exactly revolutionary….

Posted by David Rubinoff on June 30, 2007 at 7:01 PM (CDT)


Has anyone had the problem where when entering your phone number to transfer from Sprint, I keep receiving the same error message—“phone number cannot be transferred”.  There is a “zip code” trick at Appleinsider which didn’t work for me…  ATT, Apple has not been very helpful for me.  I got in a huge fight with some Apple customer service rep from Canada.

Posted by Michael Adams on June 30, 2007 at 7:07 PM (CDT)


I had no problems. I have a Family Plan that was on a corporate discount (I got 15% off thru my employer). I read online that you couldn’t activate iPhones with corporate discounts, so I called AT&T while I was in line at the Apple Store in Palo Alto and had them remove the discount from my account.

When I activated the phones (2 on a pre-existing family plan) it did give a message that my discount would be removed, in iTunes.

Then both phones activated on the iPhone family plan without any hitches. My wife’s phone did not activate Visual Voicemail until overnight.

Posted by Jason on June 30, 2007 at 7:12 PM (CDT)


Schadenfreude -

If there’s one small condolence for me that I don’t have one, it’s that I’m not experiencing the pain you people are.

Posted by alexarch on June 30, 2007 at 7:15 PM (CDT)


I bought one this morning (Saturday) at an ATT store that had just received four iPhones from their shipper an hour before I arrived.  They had one left from the four.  I took it home, connected it to iTunes, and within ten minutes, it was working as a phone without any problem.  (I was already an ATT customer and just transferred the old number to the iPhone.)  I connected it to my house wifi network and it ran fine.  It took about two more hours for the phone to connect to the EDGE network, which was slower, but functional.  It also took about that long for the voicemail to begin working, but have had no problems otherwise.

I assume there was just a big crush of activations, and the ATT systems were overwhelmed.  By the time I started trying, apparently, the crush had let up and it was all working again, at least for people just starting.  Good luck to those of you with problems.

Posted by Bill on June 30, 2007 at 7:20 PM (CDT)


My iPhone activated in an hour with a new from scratch AT&T contract, but the redirect to the voicemail box hasn’t begun to work yet. When people call me and I don’t pick up the phone they get a “This number is not in service” message and a hangup. I called Apple at noon. They transferred me to AT&T. They bumped it up to the team handling problems requiring special attention. Hope they get it working soon.

Posted by Stephen Worth in North Hollywood, CA on June 30, 2007 at 7:58 PM (CDT)


5:45 My voicemail works now!

Posted by Stephen Worth in North Hollywood, CA on June 30, 2007 at 8:48 PM (CDT)


most people say family plans caused the most trouble, we’ve been on a family plan for several years and my phone was activated in just a few minutes. maybe it’s due to the huge surge of people trying to activate their phones.

Posted by dchima on June 30, 2007 at 9:02 PM (CDT)


Guess the number would help, huh?  1-877-777-4189.  Good Luck!

Posted by smithma75 on June 30, 2007 at 1:21 PM (PDT

I just called them and I was only waiting for 2 minutes as opposed to there overnight hour line that I was waiting for 45 minutes.  The women helped me out almost instantly, and identified a problem on my account.  I still have to wait a bit longer to get activated unfortunately though.  She said they anticipated 1.5 million new activations, but they got 2 million so the system is having a problem handling it.

Posted by Rishard on June 30, 2007 at 9:44 PM (CDT)

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