Librem 5 carrier compatibility thread


#103

Walk in, tell them you’re bringing your own device, get them to port your number in (if desired) or receive new number, insert new sim in phone, turn on phone to connect to service. Or do something similar online. There are decent MVNOs (resellers) of both AT&T and T-mobile service, and they may be cheaper and offer more options than the main carriers.
Edit: This applies to US users, obviously.
P.S. You can look for MVNO reviews online to help you decide.


#104

As for modems, you’ll want the BM818-A1 or PLS8-US to have compatibility with more US bands used by AT&T and T-mobile (and their respective MVNOs). BM818-A1 works on more frequencies than PLS8-US, according to the info that Purism has provided.

Oops…meant to reply to hexatekin. Sorry.

Edit: I’ve heard that T-mobile and its MVNOs need LTE band 12, which is lacking on the PLS8-US. Something to keep in mind.


#108

Even if you order today, you won’t get it before this coming summer (Evergreen batch), so you’ll have plenty of time to see what people say once they get their phones.


#109

That’s because noone who is commenting actually has the phone yet. Once the first group of people in the US actually have the phone, they can tell you exactly what modem they ordered / exactly what phone company they are with / exactly whether the combination is working or not.


#110

Just wanted to add the emphasis on the can here as I’m sure there are plenty who won’t and if they happen to be the first to receive then it might still be a bit longer. Eventually I’m sure there will be people that will share their experiences and even some tips, but it may not be the earliest recipients that do.


#111

I am replying to my own post to let you know the results of the IMEI number that was sent to me via e-mail.

AT&T redirected me to a URL with the word “error” in the title, but it added a SIM card in my shopping cart and redirected me to a page to search for retail stores.

T-Mobile was unable to check the compatibility with their network, but still offered the ability to purchase a SIM card.

The others listed in the post that I am replying to failed. I tried Ting, and it recognized the IMEI as a BM818 (which is correct) and stated that it is compatible with their GSM network. However, just below, there is a green circle with 4G LTE in it. US Mobile (under Your Device) recommended GSM LTE, but said that my device was not supported under 4G LTE.

As others have mentioned, these IMEI checks might not reflect real world activation capability. Also, this does not address the issue of which bands are required for the phone to work in your area. The only carrier that I have seen from old screenshots is h2o Wireless, but I am not sure which modem that was.

We should see reports of real world usage in a few days, so I recommend waiting for that.


#112

Yep. These carrier responses are irrelevant.


#113

I can happily report that we used AT&T and T-mobile SIMs to test already and both worked. Signal for AT&T is pretty bad where we assemble the devices so I am not sure if 3G or 4G can be expected. T-mobile goes up to 4G and is pretty usable (in terms of speed). We’ll need to do more field tests with cards from Sprint and Verizon - which are in the end the main carriers, the resellers like Tracfone, Simple Mobile etc. etc. are just resellers and use the carrier’s network and usually do not impose IMEI checks and stuff on their own.

Cheers
nicole


#114

Hi, I still wanna separately buy an extra M2 modem from purism website for swapping them in different zones.
Since there is no such option, what if I buy a modem from some other place and plug into M2 card, will that work? …or there is some magic again preventing obvious solutions?)))


#115

That modem is LGA, not M.2, and hence for most people that would be a fatal stumbling block for the idea of using that particular modem. (That link also says “Minimum Order Quantity of 10”, which may not suit you or anyone else.)

Do you have your phone yet? If so, what modem did it come with?

By “different zones” do you mean different places within one country or different countries?

I think you may be jumping the gun. It is very early days.

Depending on what country you are in, your carrier may be blocking some particular modem, or it may not be certified (meaning it could work fine but be illegal to use).

Bottom line is that if you have your phone, you are free to buy any modem and try it out but if it doesn’t work, you may be on your own trying to get it to work. It may be easy to get it to work. It may be hard. It may be impossible.

I expect that over time, customers will buy other modems and report successes or failures in this forum.


#116

Spoke with a Verizon customer svc rep today, hoping for a definitive answer before ordering the Librem 5. Rep said Verizon won’t support Librem 5 because 1- it is Linux based and 2- it is not listed in their manual of supported devices. Rep stated the manual is updated every 6 months, and that they had never heard of a Linux based phone, nor of Librem or Purism. Their loss! Of course the reps are not all-knowing, but it was not an encouraging call.
I don’t know anything about Linux or most of the other technical things discussed here. I just want a phone that I am in control of, not one that intrudes and disseminates. Frustrated.


#117

Don’t get discouraged , because they don’t know anything about this stuff. Wait till you get the phone, try a few workarounds and only them change the carrier.


#118

What does “supported” mean anyway?

The most important thing is that it works.

I suggest that in your position, you wait just a little longer until more customers in the US have their phone (and, to my knowledge, the phone is only shipping in the US at the moment). Then those customers can report which carriers in which areas are working.


#119

Thanks Tatatirci, I plan to keep reading and learning more about this phone and Linux. I’m hoping there will be a page with simple work arounds for tech dummies like myself to try if needed. Tomorrow I’ll print off the spec sheet and take to the local Verizon store to see what they say. Probably don’t know any more than the rep on the phone, but it’s another place to try for an answer. The whole idea of this phone is intriguing, and seems so elemental, as privacy is.


#120

Good question, I don’t know what “supported” means specifically. Yes you are right, I should probably wait to buy and figure out something else to use in mean time. I am going to share the Librem 5 info with friends to let them know it is a potential option.


#121

Save yourself time and don’t bother going to the store. The tech support is mostly clueless about this issue and store reps don’t even have it as part of their training.
They all go based off the system showing on the screen. They didn’t have most of the phones as “supported” I brought to Verizon in the last 10 years and I got them to work.
Give you a few very recent examples.
Few months ago I got 3 phones jn. LG v30 (unlocked), OG Moto X (Verizon edition) , Moto G7 play unlocked. All showed not compatible with their Network as of now. And it was all based on IMEI numbers I provided to them (not just a generic list). So I used the IMEI numbers for the ones I had saved from before. So, I had the 2 SIM cards activated based on them all in 1 phone (G7 play). Then, by the time 3rd was swapped in I couldn’t get it to connect to network. Even though it should be supported (Moto tradition with Verizon) it was too new (just released) so I spent close to an hour with Tech support (both levels) trying to get them have it work. Finally , I had an extra SIM and asked for it to be activated. It still failed. In the end , I pulled another IMEI and it worked. The guy was amazed, asking what did I just do. And I went on to explain, so he can know in the future.
Just a week ago, I got Brand New Razer 2 phone - supported and advertised by Verizon on their website. Just swapped the sim and as soon I placed a test call ,rang once and dropped all bars disconnecting from network. Spoke to 1 tech support rep , updated the IMEI (RAZER’s) and was happy to see it work . But, lo and behold, it wouldn’t receive sms text messages. Talked to 2 more Tech reps - higher level (expert) and still nothing. I complained how i can’t edit APN settings nor add a new one … Finally, before accepting to get a new SIM and start fresh, I suggested that it might be something about Razer being GSM only and how I ln the meantime I looked up around forums and saw that there is CDMA-less option to select and on their end. And as soon as I said it , he knew and in an instant got it to work. All messages started coming in.
It’s crazy, but you gotta be patient :slight_smile:


#122

Thanks for saving me a trip to the Verizon store.
You’re obviously very proficient in the tech arena, and it’s interesting to read how you were able to make the phones work, although I don’t understand some of it (no tech background). I’ll keep reading to figure some of this out. Wanting to return my LG G7ThinQ and reactivate my old phone or buy something cheap until sure about using the Librem. Thanks for your reply, and patience is always good advice. Thank you.


#123

@Tatatirci’s description has been my experience with Verizon too, and I assume it’s a similar situation with other carriers. There are surprisingly (and depressingly) few people within the company who actually know anything about how their own network operates. Most of their store employees are just there to sell phones and will happily put you on the phone with tech support and go sell phones to other customers if you have a technical problem, and anyone you talk to in customer service is going to be reading from a script to give generic advice. Tech support are the only employees you’ll have success with.

I was on the phone with Verizon tech support yesterday switching my number between phones and the guy asked if I had plans for my next phone, probably to try to get me to upgrade. I told him I’d preordered a Librem 5 and explained that it was an upcoming Linux phone. He sounded interested, either that or he was politely looking for an exit to a conversation that wasn’t going to result in an upgrade, but he didn’t say anything about it not being supported. I think the process for getting it working with most carriers is going to be one of

  1. Call tech support, give them the IMEI, and ask them to activate the SIM card, or
  2. Activate the SIM card with an approved phone and transfer it to the Librem 5.

#124

It’s gonna be trickier than that for sure. If you activate the SIM inside of pre approved phone, what can happen easily is that the moment you swap the phones , it immediately drops the new one. When I say drop , it’s not necessarily the whole connection altogether (like I had with Razer) but kick it off the VoLTE like I had multiple times with different unlocked phones. Most of the time you gotta call again and ask for IMEI update , giving them the “fake” one - supported one. we’ll see how they treat L5 by the time Evergreen is out. Some phones never got to have VoLTE even though they were fully capable and all trucks were tried. The issue with L5 is that VoLTE is gonna be the only way to make calls , since CDMA is out of service starting Jan 2020. As of now , odds to be fully operational in network I see at 50/50


#125

There is an old customer engineer (CE) adage: Just because it is unsupported doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.