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  1. #1
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    Choosing a Provider or Fixing PRL/Roaming/SID

    ***************WARNING***************
    I AM NOT RESPONSABLE FOR ANY ROAMING CHARGES YOU
    INCOUR OR DAMAGES TO YOUR PHONE
    ***************WARNING***************
    ^This is how you know you're about to learn something useful.

    If you're on this forum, you already know what a great service Cricket is. But the real question is, "will it work for me?" Now "work" is more than just "can I make a call." It has to include "will I get booted from the network for roaming too much?" Cell towers are opperated by many providers. Some contract with other providers to get better service for all their customers. Others do not play so nice with each other. This is where roaming comes in. When you connect to a tower that does not play nice with your provider, you are roaming. Roaming can incour charges or get you kicked off the network if you do it too much. The goal of this guide is to make sure you are on network for the majority of your usage so that no matter what provider you end up with, you'll stay in good standing. Some companies provide for roaming, but will boot you if you do it for more than half of your total usage. With that in mind let's get started.



    STEP 1: Location
    As I mentioned earlier, where you plan to use the phone is the most important part of selecting a provider. The majority of your usage must come from an on network tower. For demonstration purposes, I'm going to use some names that people in roaming networks are likely to recognize. Like things said from politicians, this is not intended to be a factual statement.

    Sven and Olie work for DirecTV. When they go out on service calls, they need to be able to call customers to schedule apointments and access mobile web for activations. They both live in St. Paul. Sven does his service in Minneapolis. Olie does his service in St. Paul but goes in to Minneapolis once a week to pick up equipment. Cricket opperates towers in Minneapolis. Brand X runs the towers in St. Paul. Brand X and Cricket do not like each other so working on the opposite network is roaming.

    What service should they get?
    Sven should get Cricket even though he is roaming at home.
    Olie should get Brand X even though he is roaming in Minneapolis.

    Sven also might have trouble setting up his account if he tells the customer service represenative where he lives because it is a roaming area. He might have to explain that he intends to use it mostly in Minneapolis. Also, depending on how much Cricket and Brand X hate each ther, they might not get any service at all off of the other's tower. Every tower will respond one of 4 ways.
    1. On network
    2. Roaming provided by your plan
    3. Roaming with extra fees
    4. Incompatible



    STEP 2: Finding signal or the SID
    While all providers have coverage maps, none of them are accurate. The only real way to find out is to stand where you want to get service and check for signal. To do this, you will need an android phone and this ap:

    OpenSignalMaps Android App



    The phone does not need to have service for this to work. But you will have to get the ap over wi-fi or import it using other methods. This ap will map out cell towers near you and show you their SID. SIDs identify network. Each tower will have an SID and that SID will tell you what network they are on.

    CDMA vs. GSM and other systems
    There are several standards for operating phones. The two largest in the US are CDMA and GSM. If your phone is not seeing a tower you're near the tower or phone most likely uses GSM. If this is the only tower avalible to you, this guide and this site are about to become a lot less useful. Cricket is not compatible with GSM and the ap only seems to return the HMI or MNC/MCC embeded in the GSM SIM card with a roaming tower.
    SHOULD ANYONE BE ABLE TO GIVE BETTER INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO FIND HMI OR MNC FROM THE TOWERS USE THIS LINK IN PLACE OF THE SID LINK FOR THE NEXT SECTION:

    View Assignment - HNI Codes




    Full compatatability:
    Some towers might not be compatible with data connections even if they show up on the ap. If anyone knows how to test for this using a non activated phone, Sven and Olie would appreciate it. ;p



    STEP 3: Tracking the SID
    SIDs are a fixed list maintained by 1 company. Here is a link to the full list:

    National SID Assignments and Conflicts



    From there it is a matter of figuring out if the provider of the tower contracts with the service provider you want to use. That can most times be done with a call to customer service. If the CSR does not know what you're talking about when you have concerns about being off network, ask to speak to a supervisor. If anyone has info on who plays nice with Cricket, I'll gladly put it here.

    Should you find you can't use Cricket, this same process of asking customer service about roaming should work with any provider. It is now a matter of finding one compatible with your tower at the right price. You can also try calling the company that operates the tower. (however don't expect a warm response if they provide service of their own and you don't want it. *coughverizoncough*) This all goes back to the process in step 1 of making sure you're on the right network for your tower. However, you might also find out that you have something called a "roaming tower". It's only purpose is to provide roaming. You're either going to have to find another tower or move if one isn't avalible in this case.

    Now that you know the network of your tower you can set up service. In most cases this will be the end of it. You'll have great service that will last. But for certan people with flashed phones or in obscure locations it's time for the bonus round.



    ***************WARNING***************
    I AM NOT RESPONSABLE FOR ANY ROAMING CHARGES YOU
    INCOUR OR DAMAGES TO YOUR PHONE
    ***************WARNING***************
    ^I'm putting this here again because this is where it starts to get real.

    PRL
    If you've already set up service but you're still roaming in an area where you don't think you should be or you're not connecting at all, you might need to modify your phone's Prefered Roaming List or PRL. Your phone will try and connect to the tower with the highest signal in range and the SID highest on this list. If the PRL on your phone is not configured, you can fix it in 1 of 3 ways

    1
    Read the PRL from the phone, add the SID from step 2 in the first spot and put it on the phone.

    2
    Get a custom PRL from the forums, add the SID from step 2 in the first spot and put it on the phone.

    3
    Do all the steps from step 1 but after you're connected dial *228 to dowload the PRL from the tower you're absolutly sure you want to use. Doing this while connected to the wrong tower will mess up your phone's PRL so make sure you're connected where you want to be. This method is the most comprehesive for local connectivity but comes with the risk of flashing unkown elements.




    I hope this has been helpfull. Please let me know if I need to put it in another section to cover more causal users. I figured the flashing section was going to find the most appropriate audience.





    Last edited by Prinny; 03-31-2012 at 12:26 AM. Reason: add SID to title

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  3. #2
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    Great post! What I would ultimately like is a force roam option, where I can choose which network I want to roam on. At times, there can be a signal, but the signal is so weak it's not usable. Therefore, it would be nice to roam on another network, such as MetroPCS, or Sprint (if in-market roaming is available now). It would be nice if there was an application to do that.

  4. #3
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    There is no aplication that I know of but if you know the SIDs of the towers you want to hit you can manualy modify your PRL. Just put the SIDs you want to hit first on the list.

  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prinny View Post
    There is no aplication that I know of but if you know the SIDs of the towers you want to hit you can manualy modify your PRL. Just put the SIDs you want to hit first on the list.
    I think it's already set up properly, Cricket is first, then MetroPCS (or another regional provider), then Sprint, and then Verizon. I'd just like to be able to choose which network I want in my phone's settings. I remember Sprint phones used to have a "Force Roam" option, and I really liked that.

    Thanks for the information!

  6. #5
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    CdmaCellLocation | Android Developers




    I could probably make an app that would at least let you input your own network info if you give me a few days to figure out how to program it. lol


  7. #6
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    am currently connected to tower 4145 witch is a Sprint Nextel tower.

    my speeds are:
    ping:96ms
    download:3070kbps
    upload:946kbps

    am using the hybrid prl and when i go in to settings>about phone>network i get

    operator name
    Cricket
    signal:
    -80 dBm
    mobile network type
    CDMA-EvDo rev. A
    Service State
    In service
    Roaming:
    Not roaming
    Current username
    myphone@mycricket.com

    just a throwing that out there!

 

 

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