Google Pixel 2 Owners Are Having Trouble With Verizon MVNO’s, Here’s A Potential Workaround
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I have received several emails lately from Total Wireless customers with Google Pixel 2's that are trying to get their data and MMS to work properly with the Verizon MVNO. I've also seen the problem noted on social media, and most recently came across a post on Google's support forums.
The problem is two fold. One issue is that users cannot edit their APN's. The other is that some of those who can edit their APN's cannot get 4G LTE data to work.
If this sounds familiar to you from being a regular here, it's because a similar issue exists with Apple iPhone users on AT&T MVNO's. Apple iPhone users are unable to edit their cellular data settings to gain access to their APN's.
A proper APN is needed for a phone to be able to communicate with a network and have functioning data and MMS.
Why Google Pixel 2 phones are having this problem is a bit of a mystery. Users report that SIM cards that aren't working with their Pixel 2's do work with their first generation of Pixel phones as well as with their Google Nexus 6P's and even with their iPhone's. When users try to edit their APN's after putting their Total Wireless SIM cards back into their Pixel 2's they are greeted with a message that reads "access point names are not available for this user." This suggests that part of the problem is a software block. In fact, in the Google Support forum, one user reports that Android Oreo 8.1 has a hidden configuration file in it that is disabling editing of APN's for Verizon MVNO's. The file cannot be seen or edited by users unless they have a rooted device.
Like the person in the Google Support forum, I believe that editing of APN's has been disabled for Verizon MVNO's because Verizon requested it. The Google Pixel 2 after all is a Verizon exclusive device and the carrier may perceive that there is some sort of benefit to trying to block it's use on Verizon MVNO's. Other forum members have reported similar problems with Straight Talk SIM's, so this is definitely a Verizon MVNO problem and not something restricted to Total Wireless.
How To Work Around This Problem
Unfortunately the workarounds aren't necessarily easy. Some may even cost you a little money.
One workaround is to root your Pixel 2. By doing so, you should be able to gain access to editing the APN. In the past rooting your device meant voiding your warranty, but if this post is correct, Google is now honoring warranties for rooted devices.
The other workaround requires that you have another SIM card on hand, either one that is not Verizon based, like an ATT MVNO or a T-Mobile MVNO SIM card, or a SIM card from a phone that has direct service with Verizon. An older SIM card for a Verizon MVNO may also work.
Once you have the right SIM card, you'll have to insert it into your Pixel 2. After doing so, you should be able to edit your APN with the correct APN settings for Total Wireless. Total Wireless's APN settings should also work for Straight Talk Wireless, Net10 and Page Plus Cellular as well as with any other TracFone based Verizon MVNO.
Once you have edited the APN to contain the proper settings, do not save it or exit the screen. First remove the SIM card from your device, then insert the Total Wireless or appropriate SIM card back into your device. Once you have done this, it is safe to save the APN. You may have to save it or repeat the procedure several times to get it to stick. Once saved you also may need to toggle your data off and back on. Hopefully after you've done all of this you will have working data and MMS again. Now there is no guarantee that this will work, but if you do need another SIM card to try, you can often find some available for a penny on Amazon.
You can also head on over to Google's Support forums to follow and learn more about this problem.
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