[ mandlar ]
Note: I had written this a few months ago but just now got around to finally posting it.
So I had a weird problem in Mt Airy with my Motorola Droid. I could only receive 1x data signal. Well, at first I didn’t realize it was a problem because I knew that Verizon didn’t have any towers in Mt Airy. But the weird thing was that my coworker (who also has a Motorola Droid) wasn’t even getting a data signal, period. He tried getting this problem explained to Verizon customer service, but they didn’t seem to understand his problem.
Now our IT guy also has a Motorola Droid. He told us that we needed to enable data roaming. This should be fine without incurring any charges so long as we remain in the US. My coworker did this and instantly went from no data signal to 3G. I did it and…. I was stuck at 1x still! Wtf, right?
Well the only reason I could explain this is that my coworker has always been a Verizon customer and I used to be an Alltel customer who was merged over to Verizon. I still have an old grandfathered (and cheaper) Alltel plan (with the old MyCircle). But I’m a Verizon customer now so I should get access to all Verizon towers, right? Well I sent an email to Verizon customer service asking if this was the case with me being on an Alltel plan. I never heard back and didn’t feel like calling them either.
There was also no way I was going to pay more for a plan with more unnecessary minutes AND less features (cheapest Verizon plan doesn’t include Friends and Family). My brother then passed along some information from his coworker (who also owns a Motorola Droid) about PRLs. PRLs are the lists of roaming towers that your phone knows about and connect to. Usually you can dial *228 to update your PRL. Well, I look up my PRL number on my phone (Settings > About Phone > Status > PRL Version), and sure enough it is a 3XXXX number (an Alltel PRL). I ask my coworker to look up his and it was a 5XXXX number (a Verizon PRL). So this explains it! My phone doesn’t have the Verizon towers in its PRL!
Unfortunately, dialing *228 kept my PRL in the 3XXXX range, so updating my towers via that method wasn’t going to work. But my brother’s coworker also shared a link to a tutorial to both backup a PRL on a phone and flash a new one onto it: Flash the Droid to any network.
Following that tutorial I found a 5XXXX PRL, flashed it on my phone, and then finally received 3G data in Mt Airy! Hooray!
So if you are a former Alltel customer and think you could be getting a better roaming data signal, then give this tutorial a whirl and see if it helps you out. You’ll have to find your own PRL file because they are different for different regions of the United States.
Disclaimer: try this at your own risk. I am not responsible for any damage you may do to your phone.