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3G no longer working, displaying "Could not activate cellular data network"


3G no longer working, displaying "Could not activate cellular data network"

As of this past Saturday (10/13/12), my iPhone 5 3G data is not working. I pre-ordered the phone from Sprint and have had it since 9/21, and while the 3G service has generally been worse than my EVO3D, at least it was working. Before this weekend, I could at least reset the phone to restore cellular data service, but that is no longer working.

Steps I have taken to try and resolve this issue:

- Reset Network Settings

- Reset all Settings

- Turn airplane mode on/off

- 3 genius bar appointments, each time saying to contact Sprint as it was not a phone issue

- Visited Sprint store service twice (per Apple's request), and each time being told they are aware of the issue, but have no solutions

- On my last Genius Bar appointment, I was told that the issue is known, but there is no solution as well. Also, I was informed that replacing the phone would not solve the problem.

- Spent 3 hours on phone tech support today with Sprint and Apple, with both companies telling me they did not know of the issue and would have senior support engineers contact me

What is most annoying is that the reps at the stores and on the phone don't know what is causing the issue and can provide no help. Now I am waiting for calls from Sprint and Apple, which will take days, and in the meantime I am stuck with an iPhone that cannot use data service (unless I'm on WIFI). I've resorted to using my girlfriends WIFI from her Verizon iPhone.

If I could return my phone I would, this is ridiculous.


Try this:

  • Ensure the customers device is backed up
  • Perform a "Erase All Settings and Content"
  • When the device comes back up after the reset have the customer turn off the device for up to 30 minutes
  • Turn the device back on and go through the activation process
  • If the user is presented with an option to choose a carrier, please ensure they select "Sprint"

The highlighted text is important.


Hi Ky,

I tried this method two times today, the first I waited 30 mins after restoring, and the second time I waited an hour. I was not presented with an option to choose a carrier either time.

Any other suggestions?



I called today as I hadn't been contacted by the engineering team and got through to a technical floor supervisor. He had me reset my phone and then clear out my cookies and data in Safari. This got my cellular data working in Safari, but only at 2G speeds. I used my speedtest app and it was only showing speeds of 0.15Mbps.

Seems it's an issue only affecting 3G. Supposedly I will be contacted tomorrow by someone in engineering.


Try a full restore via iTunes. Try the phone off, connect the USB cable while holding down the home button on the iPhone until you get a message in iTunes stating that the phone has been recognized in recovery mode. Just follow the steps in iTunes after that.


Yeah, I've also done quite a few full restores from iTunes as well.

I'll be calling the Sprint network engineers later today and will report back with what happened.


I just spoke to the supposed Network Engineering technical rep that I have so patiently waited on for the past three days, and her glorious solution was to do what others have already mentioned in this thread: Erase all content and settings and then turn the device off for 30 mins.

She said this issue of 3G not working is a known problem with iPhone 5's and has something to do with provisioning, but she was not more clear. I told the rep that I had already performed this step on my own, but she said before she could escalate it that we had to do this step.

This is just lunacy, I've been waiting since Saturday (10/13) to speak a rep that could fix this issue, and when I finally do speak to the elusive Spring Network Engineering Rep, the only solution they have is to reset the device? Wonder-effing-ful.

Now I'm sitting here waiting out a useless 30 mins, so that I can call back, and tell them to please get their REAL engineers to help me.

2 thumbs down to Sprint customer service.

I'll keep this thread updated.


Once again I called back the Sprint Network Engineering line at 1-866-984-4962 as the device still refuses to connect to 3G services.

The rep told she would escalate the issue to the back-end team and they would call me when they had a solution. I asked for a timeframe and the rep told me she could not tell me as it depends on when the back-end team finds a solution. 

This is a known issue, but Sprint has no solution and I basically have to use my phone as a glorified iPod until they can figure it out. Awesome, I can use my phone to call and text, it's like I am in the year 2002, thanks Sprint. I did not pay $385 for this device and $10 for "premium data" so I could "make calls and text".

What is most frustrating about this experience is that I was told by the reps on Monday that this Network Team was going to solve my problem today. I was specifically told that today I would speak to someone with back-end access that can fix this provisioning issue and instead I am told, "too bad, so sad, please reset the device."

It's as if instead of giving actual customer service, I am being shown customer service theater.

At this point I would rather just leave and go to Verizon, because I have no confidence that Sprint can fix this issue in a timely manner.

More thumbs down.


A representative from the Ticket Support team called me yesterday and said they knew what the problem was. Great, I thought I was finally going to get this issue solved. The immediate follow-up to that statement, however, was,"but we are going to have to trouble shoot first."

The rep told me that the data on my account was locked and that in order to unlock it, we would have to perform a reset on my phone, leave it off for an hour, and then let the phone activate over the cellular network. I was dumbfounded. Immediately I told the rep that I had already performed this "solution" twice before and it hadn't worked.

After some back and forth conversation on my dissatisfaction with always being asked to perform the SAME steps that never work, the rep simply said that this was the next step their back-end Network support had suggested. Wait, back-end team, this whole time I thought I was dealing with their Network Engineering team. Nope, everyone I have spoke with since Monday is actually just a rep in Ticket Support. I was near exasperation at this point, I had been told I was dealing with their Network team, but nope, I hadn't been working with technicians at all.

Continuing on, fine, we tried it. She called me back in an hour, the phone did not show an option to activate over cellular, so the rep had me choose WIFI. Nothing, same error. The rep apologized and said she would have the back-end team unlock the data on my account. I asked for a timeframe and again, this rep told she did not know, but that hopefully it would be taken care of within 72 hours!!! 3 days, I have to wait another 3 days for this to be fixed.

Some more discussion ensued where I asked why this back-end Network team hadn't just unlocked the data on my account from the beginning, her response was, "they don't like to do it." Wow, what great customer service. Instead of just fixing the problem from the onset, the Sprint Network team forces me, the customer, to jump through hoops and waste my time because they don't feel like doing their jobs? Terrible.

Now for the kicker:

On my own, I did another reset, waited another hour, and this time, I activated the phone over cellular. No dice, still said no data. I call back the Ticket Support team to update them on what happened, and the new rep tells me that the previous rep from the morning had never submitted the ticket to the Network team! Lie after lie after lie.

So this new ticket support rep apologizes and says she definitely will send the ticket up to Network Engineering.

I haven't called back to check. What a huge waste of my time. Thanks for nothing Sprint.


CONFIRMED: Sprint does not know how to fix this issue.

Just called the Ticket Support line to verify if my issue was sent to the Network team and after 10 minutes of being on hold, the rep came back on the line to say that yes it had been sent to them yesterday, but that the Network team had sent it back saying they did not have a solution to this problem.

The rep I just spoke to sent it back to the Network team and told them to hold it until they had a solution.

So now I'm stuck in limbo.


Contact Apple to verify that your iPhone has an activation policy added on their end. The steps we have listed for the workaround are suppose fix this issue. We now need to confirm whether or not you have an activation policy.


Hey Ky,

I have actually been working with Apple on this issue since last week as well and a rep confirmed with me on Saturday that my activation profile/policy was missing. It is supposed to be fixed today, so I will update with what happens.

Thanks again.

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