Wind Mobile and Activating iMessage (Part 2)

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You’re tired of being gauged by the big 3. You want to switch to something better and save money while doing it. If you’ve read Part 1 of this guide, you discovered that I went from a 1GB plan for $95 a month with Bell to a 10GB plan at $60 ($50 after discounts) a month with Wind on June 28, 2016.

Everything was quick and effortless after leaving the carrier. My iPhone was set up and showing Wind with full signal. As I was walking home, I received a call saying that messages weren’t going through. I was curious but didn’t really think of anything of it so I opened up the messages settings on my phone. Since I ported my number from Bell, I was given a temporary number while the main one was being switched over. In my iMessage send and receive section, the phone number had switched from my main to this new ported number and was attempting to activate.

Two hours go by and I receive a text that my main number has been successfully ported over. I go back into the iMessage settings, but the temporary number was still displayed as trying to activate. This delay had never happened previously when porting my number from any of the big 3 carriers. I decided to call Wind tech support to ask why this was the case. The tech told me that they cannot guarantee that iMessage would activate using my number and to use my Apple ID instead.

Wait, what?

They could not guarantee that my number would activate. How is that even possible? I was then transferred to AppleCare support, and the tech told me that Wind is not a supported carrier and they couldn’t do much to help other than go through the basic steps to attempt iMessage activation. None of them worked and I was told from there to wait 24 hours. At that time they would be able to escalate the situation to engineering and proceed from there. I hung up and started to investigate online.

After a bit research, I discovered that Wind in fact did not support iMessage up until October of 2015 when Apple released iOS 9.0.2. This bug fix update resolved iMessage activation issues that were happening with various carriers. The issue with Wind was in an international text that the phone sends out when attempting to activate. When Apple’s UK servers respond with a unique code, Wind’s systems are unable to read it properly and the message is presented visibly to the user. I was told by Apple’s techs that this message is supposed to be a silent SMS and not visible.

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iMessage activation SMS’s that were not received properly.

I received this text every time an attempt was made to activate either iMessage or FaceTime. I proceeded to follow any steps I could find to help remove the temporary number from the send and receive section, but nothing worked. Signing out of my Apple ID on both iMessage and FaceTime, resetting network settings, hard resets, waiting 24 hours, and even restoring the device did not resolve the issue, let alone even removing the temporary number from the menu.

The next day, I went to my local Apple service centre to speak with a tech. His first suggestion was to get the SIM replaced as the temporary number could still be attached to the SIM somehow. Luckily there was a Wind booth in the mall. The rep there didn’t understand why this process was necessary, and even reinstated the fact that my number wasn’t guaranteed to work and to use my Apple ID. I didn’t understand how this was a suggestion when I had read that the issue had been fixed back in October of 2015.

We swapped the SIM and I did a hard reset. The activation continued to fail and I kept receiving the SMS messages. I went back to Apple where they did a DFU restore and set up as a new device. The temporary number was gone but it still did not activate. I left with the issue unresolved and restored my backup when I got home. The temporary number returned. I was out of options by that point and did some more research. After digging through the Wind Mobile subreddit, I found that any new iOS activation as of October 2015 will activate immediately. If you port a number from any other carrier to Wind Mobile, it can take up to a week for iMessage to activate. At this point it was already 3 days in so I had no other option but to wait it out. I signed out of my Apple ID on iMessage and FaceTime and simply left it on with the “Waiting for activation…” message displayed.

On Monday, July 4, I received a follow up call from Wind support asking how my first week has been. This call was unrelated to the tech calls I had made regarding the iMessage issue and was simply a courtesy call. I told her that everything was great other than the troubles I was having with iMessage. I said that the techs had told me it wasn’t guaranteed to work but everything I had read online said that it does activate but could take up to a week with ported numbers. She apologized for the inconvenience I had gone through and applied a $20 credit to my account. At this time it still had not activated, but I had just over a day to go until it had been the full week.

Later that day, I drove my brother to Toronto to meet a ride share arrangement. As I was leaving the drop off location, I opened messages to let my mom know I was heading back. I noticed that the send button was blue as I was about to confirm the message. I tapped send and it said delivered, so I went to messages and it had finally activated. FaceTime was also activated as well. It may be coincidence, but I can’t confirm if it was related to the fact that I was in Toronto on different towers that could have been programmed differently, or if I had just waited it out long enough.

I don’t know why this is a thing, but I have a feeling it is related to Wind being a smaller carrier and having different systems than the big 3. Now that iMessage works again, I am very satisfied with the service and plan to continue using it until Canada gets their act together and starts regulating realistic mobile plans that don’t completely screw over it’s consumers.

TL;DR

If you’ve just switched to Wind and ported a number from another carrier, simply sign out of your Apple ID in iMessage and FaceTime. Let it sit at the activating screen for up to a week. Wind and Apple will not help you with any information. They will just blame each other. iMessage will work, it will simply take up to a week for your ported number to be confirmed on Wind’s systems to activate iMessage.

When Wind does their courtesy call, feel free to tell them about the inconvenience you had not being able to use iMessage and you may get a bill credit. If this guide helped you, make sure to share it to anyone you know who is planning to switch and get more out of their mobile plan.

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