FaceTime doesn't work on non-supported networks (i.e. T-Mobile, etc.)

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by OCDMacGeek, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. OCDMacGeek macrumors 6502a


    Jul 19, 2007
    I got a factory unlocked iPhone 4 from the UK. I live in the U.S. and use a small GSM provider in my area called Cellular One. When trying to activate FaceTime, I was stuck on the "Waiting for activation" screen.

    I finally called 1-888-FaceTime and was told that FaceTime won't work on any non-supported networks, like T-Mobile, etc. It appears that even though the phones are sold factory unlocked, FaceTime requires a specific server on the network (like visual voicemail) so it won't work on any other network.

    That is disappointing. I hope that Skype begins to use the video calling feature.
  2. kernkraft macrumors 68020


    Jun 25, 2009
    I though that FaceTime only worked through wifi between iPhone 4s only...
  3. oakland6980 macrumors member


    Jun 21, 2010
    all i know is you have to have a text message plan enabled and use wifi. so your carrier shouldnt matter.
  4. outphase macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2009
    Parts Unknown
    Not necessarily true. Some carriers do not support special characters used in an SMS. I tried to send emoji to an unlocked iPhone on t-mobile, and it doesn't show up. I tried to send foreign accented characters to a Palm Pre on Sprint, and the whole message doesn't show up.

    Maybe the "hidden" SMS requires some special character that the other carriers may not accept as part of an SMS.
  5. OCDMacGeek thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jul 19, 2007
    Apparently not, as I was told by Apple Support that only supported carriers have servers to "activate" the feature. I haven't been able to get it activated even though I have an SMS plan, all necessary ports are open (as far as I can tell), and I have tried rebooting, etc.

    It just doesn't seem that it will work for me. I am interested in feedback to the contrary.
  6. Briview macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Yes, I'm facing the same issue. Purchased iP4, cancelled AT&T through paying the ETF, and now FaceTime doesn't work as I'm on T-Mobile (pay-as-you-go, voice+text only) despite the lack of need for a 3G/data plan.

    I suppose we'll have to wait for a jailbreak hack that tricks the iPhone into thinking that it's on AT&T (like how 3G Unrestrictor tricks the phone into thinking that it's on WiFi).

    I'm very sure that this will come about due to the number of people who will be doing this, so no serious worries. ;)

    Yes, apparently on supported carriers... for now. :rolleyes:
  7. oakland6980 macrumors member


    Jun 21, 2010
    that could be. i do know i'm only able to send emoji to iphones (although ive only send to ATT) it would make sense if that was true.

    If the OP I would called the FACETIME number and ask about the issues. The only limitation ive seen for face time was iP4 to iP4 and wifi. so maybe some more?
  8. Briview macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
  9. oakland6980 macrumors member


    Jun 21, 2010
    whoops :) sry
  10. OCDMacGeek thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jul 19, 2007
    I was holding out some hope that if I took my factory unlocked phone roaming on AT&T's network (or put in an AT&T sim), that FaceTime might "activate." Then, when I return to my normal network, it would continue to work. Your comment implies that once you stopped using AT&T's network, FaceTime stopped as well? That means my theory probably won't work.
  11. iceterminal macrumors 68000


    May 25, 2008
    Dallas Tx.
    I'm on AT&T and have a friend in the UK using his unlocked phone on a pay-as-you-go. We facetime a few times and haven't had problems. But his provider might have this ability turned on, not sure.
    But if thats the case then we know its something they have to do. I wonder how facetime is different than other data since its wifi only.
  12. samcraig macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    The answer is already in this thread

    It has nothing to do with starting a facetime call.

    It have everything to do with registering your # for activation.

    A server somewhere needs to identify your phone # with your device. And then when you connect via wifi (no cell needed) that info is still sent (via wifi) to a server to connect to another device

    If you're # isn't activated on a server which supports facetime, outaluck
  13. itsmemuffins macrumors 68040


    Jun 23, 2010
    Here in Ireland facetime works just fine and we don't even have the iP4 released yet (got a sim free from the UK).
  14. California King macrumors 65816

    Sep 20, 2007
    How are you using it T-Mobile if you bought it with AT&T? There's no unlock yet, let alone a jailbreak :)
  15. mmike70 macrumors newbie

    Nov 8, 2008
    I ordered a UK phone on launch day. I do a lot of travelling between countries and had it delivered to my office over there but didn't activate it until I got back to the US with my US T-Mobile SIM card. Worked fine back then, everything including Facetime worked right away. My problem stareted this past Saturday when I had to get a new SIM card since I was having occasional issues with locking on to international carriers with any brand of cell phone and t-mobile thought it was the sim card since it was around 8 years old. Anyway, the SIM card works fine with everything like phone calls, MMS, tethering (EDGE though but in a pinch still useful), push notifications but now I'm getting the "waiting for activation..." message on enabling facetime. I've restored the phone to factory new phone defaults and reactivated but still nothing. I'll give US t-mobile a call and see what they say. They've always been really helpful in troubleshooting iphone issues before.
  16. mmike70 macrumors newbie

    Nov 8, 2008

    I did the jailbreak and my Facetime is back, tested working along with mms and push. I just ran the unlock, rebooted and Facetime was back. I installed nothing from Cydia and at the time it started working I didn't even have MMS configured. I'm back to a 100% working phone again but it is very strange.
  17. Daveoc64 macrumors 601

    Jan 16, 2008
    Bristol, UK
    All five of the UK's carriers are selling the iPhone 4.

    Even some of the MVNOs are getting it.
  18. aforty macrumors 65816


    Nov 27, 2007
    Brooklyn, NY
    I don't have an SMS plan and FaceTime works just fine for me.
  19. orpheus1120 macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2008
    So how much are you guys charged for the facetime sms activation?

    Take a look at THIS.

    Pay close attention to point 1. It says iPhone 4 will automatically attempt to register facetime when a sim is swapped. My question is since I travel frequently between Singapore and Malaysia and have 2 localized sim cards for my iPhone 4, will it automatically registers facetime EVERY SINGLE TIME I swap my sim?

    Secondly, if I restore my iPhone for whatever reason (like unjailbreak etc), do I have to pay for facetime activation again? If so, that would seriously suck! :eek::eek:
  20. caltrinity macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2010
    I'm using a factory unlocked iPhone 4 from UK here in the US on T-Mobile. FaceTime works fine. I was stuck on the activating... screen as well, but after I logged into my router and changed the firewall settings to minimal everything worked. There is an official bulletin on Apple Support that tells you which ports that you need to have open in order for FaceTime to work.

    MMS outgoing is fine. MMS incoming is non-functional.
  21. LosAngelesRider macrumors newbie

    Aug 5, 2010
    We have a thread going over at modmyi. If you font Mind could you please check what carrier version you have on your phone? I have 7.0. You can check it by going in Settings>General>About>Carrier AT&T 7.0. Thanks....

    Did you active your FaceTime here in the US or in the UK?

  22. txguru macrumors newbie

    Aug 9, 2010
    Can anyone clear this up?

    So what I am gathering from reading all of these posts is that:

    1) Facetime from factory unlocked iPhones from places like the UK and Canada
    A) Doesn't work per shahidhaque and some others
    B) Does work via jailbreaking from mmike70
    C) Works fine and could be a router issue from caltrinity

    It seems as though there is a disconnect here. Anyone else care to comment before I drive up to Canada and get one of these?

    Thanks for everyone's comments, by the way. It shed some light on a problem that could exist and set my expectations before I purchased one and found out, "Hey my Facetime doesn't work!". :D
  23. OCDMacGeek thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jul 19, 2007
    I can still confirm that Facetime won't activate when using my local GSM provider, Cellular One, or when roaming on AT&T with my Cellular One SIM. It never moves past the "Waiting for activation" screen.

    My carrier version is 7.0.

    I have an Airport Extreme router, and I've never modified its basic settings. Even on an Airport Extreme with factory settings, do you still need to specifically route certain ports?
  24. jwilson25 macrumors regular


    Aug 25, 2009
    I can't speak to the Cell One part since I'm on AT&T, but I did not have to route any ports on my Airport Extreme to get mine working.

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