Running an unlocked Galaxy Tab on AT&T’s tablet tariff

17May11

My Galaxy Tab came from the US, and is AT&T branded. As soon as I got it I installed a stock firmware as I didn’t want to live with the various restrictions AT&T had imposed (and I also wanted to use a UK data plan).

For my holiday in the US I wanted to get the AT&T SIM that came with it going, as $25 for 2GB of data (over 30 days) seemed pretty reasonable to me. I signed up at www.att.com/buyasession setting the start date for when I would arrive in the US[1].

Sadly things didn’t go perfectly to plan, and when I switched on my Tab it didn’t connect to data. The issue turned out to be APNs. There is plenty of guidance out there on the web about using a Tab with the standard AT&T data APNs, but that’s not what I wanted to do.

It turned out that I needed to connect to an APN called BROADBAND (all CAPS), and then everything connected as it should[2].

Once it was working I must say that it worked well. I hear a lot of whining about AT&T’s data network, but my subjective experience was that it was pretty good – usually delivering an HSPA connection.

[1] Maybe I missed the check box first time through, but I had to go back later to ensure that my data plan didn’t auto renew when the 30 days expired.
[2] For more on the various AT&T APNs check out this.



3 Responses to “Running an unlocked Galaxy Tab on AT&T’s tablet tariff”

  1. 1 conor ogle

    Thanks Chris. I am looking for a SIM-only data plan for my Nexus S which I could use to tether in ’emergencies’. Will explore ATT further.

    • The sign up process asks for the SIM number and the IMEI of the device. As I was doing it I had an unregistered AT&T PAYG SIM in front of me, and could have easily got them mixed up. I’d be frankly amazed if AT&T bother to track the numbers of SIMs that have been shipped with tablets. I’d also be surprised if they bother to keep a database of IMEIs for tablets they’ve sold. So it’s probably worth a try getting an AT&T PAYG SIM from eBay and registering it against your Nexus S IMEI – you have little to lose if it doesn’t work. Use a US address (obviously), and an Amex card (which it seems appears to be a US card even when it’s not for the purposes of those apps that check such things).

  2. I have an unlocked Galaxy P1000 and tried several sims cards and finally got a GOPHONE on the AT&T network for $9. I threw the phone away but inserted the sims card in the Tab. I signed up for 10 cents a minute AT&T plan (which I will not use) and then got the 2 gig data plan for $25. I have been using this for a few weeks and it connected right off the bat and I have had no problems. Seems to work flawlessly. I have to give them a thumbs up.


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