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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On the phone with ATT after 13 hours waiting for activation (trying to port a number from SPrint).  Thanks smithma75 for a good number, got a quick answer at 1-877-777-4189.  Don’t think I’ll get anywhere, but the rep is very nice and helpful.

Posted by Maritza_Miami on July 1, 2007 at 10:49 AM (CDT)


Update:  Got off the phone with Amy at ATT 1-877-777-4189.  Sprint won’t release my number for another 24+ hours.  At 11:40 am tomorrow, a full 2days after beginning activation, they say I am to turn off both phones, boot up my iPhone and all shall be well.  We’ll see.  Call Amy, she’s very nice and responsive.

Posted by Maritza_Miami on July 1, 2007 at 10:57 AM (CDT)


I bought the iphone in New Mexico but I have a California number so now AT&T is not letting me port my number since the sim card is from different location than my number. Is anyone else having this problem? Any solutions?

Posted by happybunnie on July 1, 2007 at 11:39 AM (CDT)


I am having trouble porting my number since I bought the phone in New Mexico but live in California. Is anyone else having this problem? An solutions?

Posted by Rae on July 1, 2007 at 11:44 AM (CDT)


It is now 12:00pm Sunday (EST) and I am STILL waiting for my iphone to be activated. I am an AT&T customer with a very straightforward account, so I do not understand the wait. I attempted activation midnight on Friday. My blackberry was shut off within minutes, so I have had no cell phone service since Friday night. This is insane & I am ready to go and return the expensive paperweight because that is all it is at this moment.

Posted by Betsy Walker on July 1, 2007 at 12:10 PM (CDT)


Glad the 877-777-4189 number worked for some. 

Update:  During your credit check in the AT&T stores (for those of you who were wise to select this option instead of by-passing and having to do this through iTunes) you gave an address and zip code to the rep.  If you do not use the SAME ADDRESS and ZIP, your activation will fail.  Do not select a different address for primary place of use (which is a radio button option after you enter the billing address.

Posted by smithma75 on July 1, 2007 at 12:19 PM (CDT)


I’m at 42 hours, and still no iPhone love.  AT&T says that my account is ready.  It shows my phone as the iPhone,a dn my plan has no issues which prevent me from using the phone.  So they pass me to Apple.  Apple says that there is nothing that they can do until AT&T activates my phone.

Posted by e:leaf on July 1, 2007 at 1:08 PM (CDT)


e:leaf, your account IS activated with AT&T.  Apple just has a problem getting you registered with them.  I’ve been told by Apple Cust. Care that their main iTunes server crashed due to overload and their new release.  If you remove your sim chip and put it in a Cingular/ATT known working phone, you can make and receive calls.  If you put it back in your iPhone and it still says need more time for activation, think about it.  It’s Apple’s registration process that’s holding up the process.

Posted by smithma75 on July 1, 2007 at 1:18 PM (CDT)


Can’t post a comment; keep getting the error “sorry, cannot accept your comment at this time.”  Anyone have the fix for this?

Posted by smithma75 on July 1, 2007 at 1:26 PM (CDT)



This is a suspicion that I’ve had for quite some time.  I did try switching SIM cards from the iPhone, and yes, the account does indeed work correctly.  I’ve laid my theory out on my blog.  You can follow my frustrations at http://www.macademic.net

Posted by e:leaf on July 1, 2007 at 1:28 PM (CDT)


To the Finnish user who wanted to know whether his DNA SIM card would work in an iPhone, the answer is NO.

The iPhone will only work with AT&T SIM cards, so unless you want to set up an American cellphone account and pay roaming charges, I think you’d better wait for your iPhone.

Hearing about the activation problems, you may well be better off…

Posted by Lefty on July 1, 2007 at 1:44 PM (CDT)


Been waiting 36 hours now for the “activation completed” email.. still no email or sign of life. ATT wont even lodge a complaint saying that their system says every thing is in order.. the fact that the phone itself is still not yet activated, i guess, is an insignificant detail ;)

Anyone else been waiting this long ?

Has anyone actually received a confirmation email after waiting for hours like this ?

Posted by Neeraj Malhotra on July 1, 2007 at 2:04 PM (CDT)


Existing AT&T customer replacing existing phone with iphone. Waited 10 hrs for the confirmation email only to be notified that there was a problem with the activation and to call an 800 number. 5 different 800 numbers, 2 fortune 500 companies, 30 hrs later they have $600.00 and all I have is a picture of the Earth.

Posted by Robin on July 1, 2007 at 2:18 PM (CDT)



call 877-777-4189 for fast answers.

Posted by smithma75 on July 1, 2007 at 2:29 PM (CDT)


39 hours for me. My other phone which was att also, has been dissabled so I am without a phone AND IM PISSED. How could att not expect this type of traffic. I bet the CEO is going around gloating his success when in reality ATT is the most pathetic wireless company out there.ATT has failed their customers and left them in the dark.

Posted by connor on July 1, 2007 at 2:35 PM (CDT)


Come on ATT, get this problem sorted.  Don’t let us and Apple down. Apple have delivered there end of the bargain with an easy activation system. WHY CAN’T YOU? You have our money.

Posted by Simon on July 1, 2007 at 2:35 PM (CDT)


I have one on order from the apple website - they say 2 -4 weeks to get it…that’s perfect…glad I did not stand in line…ATT should be a little better by then….

Posted by gersly on July 1, 2007 at 2:39 PM (CDT)


I am an existing cingular customer and had mixed results. Activation times are all over the place. My iPhone was activated in 40 min while my wife’s took 8hrs. But so far so good, love this phone.

- Typed from iPhone, woot!

Posted by lvidal on July 1, 2007 at 2:48 PM (CDT)


makes a person wonder how Apple, in its infinite wisdom, could have chosen a company like AT&T to partner with.

Posted by Jacob Anderson on July 1, 2007 at 4:01 PM (CDT)


Wow - I’m sorry so many people are having problems. I’m convinced it’s a combination of several factors though. First is ATT being severely unprepared for this onslaught. Second are minor mistakes during set up - addresses, zip codes, etc. Third is transferring the existing number - your current provider has to release this if it isn’t already ATT. Sometimes this won’t be so quick to occur over the weekend, so please be patient. My personal experience watching my friend activate his through iTunes was sublime. Of course he had his within minutes of the store opening, and we promptly rushed back to his place to set it up. So activation was prompt and easy. He set up a new number and was an existing ATT customer - there was one minor hiccup with his address, iTunes was very easy to use and suggested the “ATT suggested” address and he was up and running within minutes.

I think ideally Apple had a great idea letting people activate this through iTunes, unfortunately it appears that ATT simply wasn’t ready to process so many account requests at once. Now imagine the back log if you had to personally have an ATT representative activate your phone in the store? People would still be in line waiting.

I agree with a few previous posters, chill out, give it a day or two. Granted it is aggravating, but the activation obviously works because many, many people have had no problems. Those of you (who understandably) are eager need to realize that if you all activate at once and then call support all at once it’s just going to create a huge problem - actually, it has created a huge problem. To those doubters, hang on - I’ve experienced the phone, it is so worth the trouble. To the guy thinking of going Mac - I don’t know why the ATT activation would cause you concern - this should reflect on ATT’s inability to (not surprisingly) accommodate it’s customer, not Apple, I think they’ve done a magnificent job with the iPhone, their partner dropped the ball. I’m sure any other carrier would’ve fallen victim to the same problems.I don’t believe any carrier has the type of reputation for quality that Apple has - hopefully this will make ATT step it up a bit.

Posted by mr. dave on July 1, 2007 at 4:21 PM (CDT)

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