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Motorola Droid 3
Conflicts with Carriers

Jim Carter, 2011-11-23

The Preferred Roaming List (PRL) is a list, in sections by geographic area, of network numbers that the phone is allowed to connect to. The PRL on the phone is provided by the original mobile operator, Verizon, and lists Verizon's networks but not their hated rivals.

My original goal was to avoid paying for services I don't use, by using a prepaid plan with a modest but sufficient data allowance. Boost Mobile appeared to be the optimal mobile virtual operator for this purpose; it resells Sprint service and in fact is a subsidiary of Sprint.

This phone is unlocked for using GSM, and forum posters in Europe report that GSM operation with a variety of GSM mobile operators succeeds. As a test, while my AT&T account was valid, I inserted my AT&T SIM in the phone and tried to use the network, but without success. I understood that a GSM phone should obey the PRL on the SIM. However, forum posters suggest that the phone coprocessor software on the Droid 3 (and Verizon phones in general) checks for rival USA mobile operators and specially suppresses them. Alternatively, the PRL can include negative entries, and it is possible that the rival networks are suppressed in this way.

To use this phone on Sprint, I am going to need to replace the PRL. Here are notes on this topic:

It looks like installing a rival's PRL is not going to be as easy as I thought. And there is another fly in the ointment: Boost Mobile refuses to activate the phone, realizing from the MEID that it wasn't sold by them. After a considerable amount of thrashing around, I finally decided to cut my losses and to be a loyal Verizon customer, at least temporarily.

As for plans, the best one is the prepaid daily plan, $0.25/minute plus unlimited data for $1 on each day used. However, Verizon refuses to sell this one to me; it's for dumb phones only. If you're over 65, look for the Nationwide 65 Plus plans which give you less usage for less cost, even though still expensive.