Trouble connecting to cellular internet using T-Mobile USA's free roaming

I'm just back from a trip to Berlin. I've been testing out T-Mobile USA's service for the past year and have had generally good results with their free international roaming – the 2G speed is slow but good enough for messaging and for getting un-lost, and most importantly, it's FREE.

A few days into this trip my phone suddenly lost the ability to access the cellular data network. I tried most of the standard tricks (rebooting my phone, trying Chrome instead of Safari, etc.) and nothing worked. I talked with their technical support folks over their website's chat function and they weren't able to get me going either. I just kept getting the error "Could not activate cellular data network".

What eventually worked for me was this:
  1. Find a location with both Wi-Fi and good cellular service
  2. Verify that you're able access the internet over the Wi-Fi connection
  3. On your phone, go to Settings > General > About
  4. Wait a bit
  5. Click Update if/when this message appears

Apparently the phone needs the Wi-Fi to be active so it can download the carrier settings which the phone needs to access the cellular data network. This might not solve the problem for everyone, but it seemed to solve the problem for me and was not in the support technician's list of things to try.

If you're not using T-Mobile's free roaming, my article about minimizing cellular data usage might be helpful.


Popular posts from this blog

Finding and collecting Japanese Railway station stamps

Don't pay in US Dollars

Trip Report: ANA New York JFK to Tokyo Narita Business Class flight 1009