Sim free 3G phone + Orange = no 3G

Orange Logo So you’ve got an old 2G phone and decide Orange’s upgrade charges are ridiculous (£200 fee for upgrade + cost of phone!), and you’re stuck on a contract, so you decide to just go out and buy a nice new 3G phone ‘sim-free’. You think you can just pop your existing sim into the phone and everything works?

Think again.

Well the sim does work, but it turns out the sim is a 2G sim. To be able to use any of the 3G functionality of the phone and connect to 3G networks, you need a 3G sim (a USIM)*. Fine you think, call the operator and ask for a 3G sim, and you don’t even mind paying a small cost for it.

Problem is you’re on Orange and they flat refuse to give you a 3G sim unless you go out an buy a new Orange branded 3G contract or PAYG phone !

So now I have a nice Nokia N80 3G phone and no 3G just because I didn’t buy it from Orange. Now I could have waited until my contract was up and get a new contract for the phone on Orange but I don’t want to be on a £40+ a month contract just to get the phone at a reasonable cost and I don’t like the way Orange lock down and customise things on the Orange branded version of the phone anyway.

Still other than the lack of 3G it’s a nice phone.

*Update: See this post for an update. Turns out the problem is specific to Orange UK as a regular SIM (not USIM) gets 3G just fine in Orange France!

  • A follow up on this. I decided to just go PAYG at the end of my contract and it turns out you can get a SIM only 3G USIM PAYG on Orange if you go to an Orange shop. It’s free if you pay for £10 credit. You can get some on ebay also for around £5 but those are actually costing you more as you have to add credit on top.

    Anyway, I’d heard you can transfer your contract number to PAYG and sure enough in the book with the sim it even gives you a phone number and details of information required to do exactly that. So I call the number and I’m told I have to go through retentions at Orange to downgrade to PAYG where they’ll send a SIM. Well for a start I don’t want to go anywhere near retentions and have to argue over my contract and I also don’t want to get yet another SIM seeing as I’ve just got a PAYG SIM anyway (and it was a source from Orange who said to buy a PAYG SIM from a shop anyway)!

  • A follow up on this. I decided to just go PAYG at the end of my contract and it turns out you can get a SIM only 3G USIM PAYG on Orange if you go to an Orange shop. It’s free if you pay for £10 credit. You can get some on ebay also for around £5 but those are actually costing you more as you have to add credit on top.

    Anyway, I’d heard you can transfer your contract number to PAYG and sure enough in the book with the sim it even gives you a phone number and details of information required to do exactly that. So I call the number and I’m told I have to go through retentions at Orange to downgrade to PAYG where they’ll send a SIM. Well for a start I don’t want to go anywhere near retentions and have to argue over my contract and I also don’t want to get yet another SIM seeing as I’ve just got a PAYG SIM anyway (and it was a source from Orange who said to buy a PAYG SIM from a shop anyway)!

  • Nige Marriott

    I’ve got exactly the same problem – but it is complicated by the fact that it is a business contract and so I cann’t get a pay as you go and transfer the number.

    I have tried every thing I can think of but with no progress. Orange are the most inflexable unhelpful customer unfriendly organisation I have every had the misfortune to deal with. Great Customer Service???
    I don’t bloody think so!!!!

  • Nige Marriott

    I’ve got exactly the same problem – but it is complicated by the fact that it is a business contract and so I cann’t get a pay as you go and transfer the number.

    I have tried every thing I can think of but with no progress. Orange are the most inflexable unhelpful customer unfriendly organisation I have every had the misfortune to deal with. Great Customer Service???
    I don’t bloody think so!!!!

  • To make matters worse I also discovered PAYG is not really an option as it limits the amount of roaming you can do around the world which I didn’t realise. For example Orange PAYG is not supported in Canada, but contract is (at least according to Orange’s web site).

  • To make matters worse I also discovered PAYG is not really an option as it limits the amount of roaming you can do around the world which I didn’t realise. For example Orange PAYG is not supported in Canada, but contract is (at least according to Orange’s web site).

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  • ilmarcello

    This is very bad customer service from orange and the fact that they don't provide a 3g sim card for a customer that is with them for over 1 year is just…..CRAP!!!
    I'm on a business contract, I bought an iphone in cash and they told me that I can use my orange sim card with iphone but the connection and other services will be very slow as my sim is 2G and they are not willing to provide a new £G sim card. My only option I have is to close this contract with orange paying anyway 18£ for 400 minutes and get semplicity with £20 and having a nice 3G sim card with free internet , 600 minutes and 1200 minutes. I gave already the notice as I think is no other solution….

  • Tim

    Well, looks like I'm finally getting a 3G Sim. Thanks to the power of Internet forums. Helpful guy in the Orange section over at the What Mobile forums offered to help out. Got a call from him and all sorted. 3G sim in the post.

  • Julie77

    IF YOU GO ONTO ORANGE WEBSITE YOU CAN GET ONE ITS CALLED USING YOUR INITIATIVE
    PEOPLE SHOULD BE MADE TO DO AN IQ TEST BEFOR THEY ARE ALLOWED A MOBILE PHONE

  • Tim

    Sorry but you're wrong.

    Firstly, there is no where on Orange's web site where you can upgrade an existing 2G SIM to a 3G SIM on the same pay monthly contract.

    Secondly, I wrote the post back in 2006 before Orange brought in SIM only packs on pay monthly. These *might* be 3G, but you still have to get a new contract (far more expensive than what I'm paying on my old contract) and either put up with having a new number or attempt to get your number ported.

    You have however been able to get 3G SIMs on PAYG on their web site for a long time, but I'm not talking about PAYG. There's another problem there anyway. Just try porting a contract number to 3G PAYG on Organge. Trust me, I've tried 😉

    So, people should learn to do some research about what they're commenting about before making comments ;). I did my research when attempting to get a 3G SIM off Orange for the same contract. You only have to Google to see it was a big problem and many others had the same issue.