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by Stephen chukumba, at 06:45 pm, April 19, 2016, Opinion, Tech & Innovation

That time my iPhone didn’t work in Nigeria

Bringing a phone from a different continent can be a gamble. (Photo: curbcancerng.com)

This is a reprint from a post I wrote on my last trip to Nigeria.

I just got back from burying my father in Nigeria, and I’m thoroughly disgusted with both my iPhone 5 and AT&T.

You see, I was originally going to buy a burner for the trip.

A throwaway phone that I’d cop at the airport in Nigeria, load up with minutes and give to one of my relatives on my way out of the country.

Simple.

But noooo…I had to get all fancy.

I remembered that the iPhone was a GSM, which meant I could use it abroad.

I had used my iPhone 4 in Cannes, France, with great success.

I simply had to switch up my international plan, set up a global data plan and I’d be set.

I didn’t even have to call AT&T to make the switch because I could do it all within the AT&T app.

So as I taxied on the runway at Newark airport, I set up my joint and felt secure that I had made the right choice.

When I got to Frankfurt, where I had a brief layover, I was rocking.

I was making calls, receiving emails and texting like a champ.

I was imbued, however, with a false sense of security.

Because when I arrived in Nigeria, nothing worked.

I couldn’t make calls.

I couldn’t send or receive texts.

I couldn’t surf the internet.

Nothing.

Effing.

Worked.

Cellular data on – nuthin.

Cellular data off – nada.

Wi-Fi on – bupkis.

Wi-Fi off – nyet.

Every once in a while, I would get an errant text message.

Frequently, my “No Service” would become “AIRTEL” or “Glo Ng”.

But my hopes of cellular connectivity were quickly dashed as calls routinely failed.

And then (somehow) I got a text message that almost caused me to lop off my own head.

Due to high international data usage your data service was suspended, including in USA.

WTF?!

Enraged, I immediately called the toll-free number listed in the text.

Remarkably, the call went through.

Me (icily): “Yeah…I just got a text message saying that my data service was suspended because I was over my limit. But I haven’t been able to use my phone since I landed in Nigeria.”

AT&T: “It appears that you’ve used 51.6 Mb on your data plan.”

Me (seething): “When? I haven’t been able to use my phone since I got here!”

AT&T: “Well that’s because you’re not set up for international use.”

Me (on the verge of losing my marbles): “But I did…I used the app…”

I had to stop myself.

Ol’ girl was about to have her behind handed to her.

Clearly, whatever I had done (for which I received several email confirmations), hadn’t taken.

And rather than harp on what I had already done (to ensure that I wasn’t where I was right now), I decided to work with miss thing to get my sh*t straight.

I was on with an operator, and she was helping to ensure that my account was properly configured for international use.

After confirming my requested upgrades, we parted, confident that I could get my dial on.

First call – the wifey. Let her know I’m set.

Dialing.

Dial assist message.

Call failed.

CALL FAILED?!!!!

It took every sinew in my body to suppress the urge to fling my precious iPhone across the room and test the efficacy of my Otter case.

To add insult to injury, my younger brother who still rocks an iPhone 4 (with AT&T) had no problems whatsoever.

The entire time we were there, he was on his joint chilling.

Texting folks in and out of Nigeria.

Calling.

Posting pictures to Facebook.

Mind you, he reminded me that I could simply have AT&T switch up my stuff so that my phone would work outside of the US.

But clearly something was lost in translation between the 4 and the 5.

Because both my other brother, The Doc, and I have the iPhone 5.

And we were both screwed.

Now, I don’t know how many of us iPhone 5 owners travel internationally.

Or how many have experienced something similar.

But I can’t accept that stepping up to the 5 means stepping down in performance and utility.

And I’m certainly not checking for spending more money to do so either.

So AT&T, I’m fully expecting a credit of $5.99 for the so-called “world traveler” international calling, $30 for the global messaging, and $60 for the global data that I never got to effing use.

And if you plan on taking a jaunt to the continent – get yourself a burner.

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