Wednesday, 4 May 2011

If you have bought a new iPad 2 in South Africa then read this :)

On Friday 29th April 2011 the Apple iPad2 arrived in South Africa.  At 09:00 on the Friday there were queues forming at the two shops that were selling the new iPad: Incredible Connection and the iStore at the Century City Mall in Cape Town.

I was one of the luck ones and I managed to get my iPad2 3G 64GB before they sold out, at about 09:15 !!


So then the saga begins…

If you buy your iPad 2 from a retail outlet without a data plan then you need to either obtain a contract or a pay-as-you-go (pre-paid) Micro SIM.  The Micro SIM is a new generation of SIM that is used in the Apple iPhone 4 and the iPad and I am sure will start to appear in other handsets and devices too.

iPad2 SIM

So I went to the Vodacom store and asked for a Pay-As-You-Go Micro SIM for my iPad.  The process seems somewhat backward in my mind:  the chap at the Vodacom store needed to take a regular SIM, obtain a number for that SIM and then transfer that number to the Micro SIM.  It then takes 24-48 hours to come live on the Micro SIM.

What the chap at the Vodacom store didn’t do was to activate the APN (Access Point Name) on my Micro SIM.  To do this I had to call Vodacom Support on 082 155 (from my Vodacom cell phone)  and then hit  3, 3, and then I was connected to the support  desk.  Explain to them that you want activate the APN on your Micro SIM.  They will ask for either the Cell number or the last digits (following the zero's) on the back of your Micro SIM card.

Whatever else you read elsewhere, the APN needs to be: internet (lower case "i").  The support desk may tell you and that’s probably because they don’t have any iPad's to play with yet.  When they started talking me through what to do they gave me instructions for an iPhone, which is similar in the Settings menu but not quite.  Just bear with them, again I don’t think they have any iPad's or even simulators to work with yet.

This apparently takes between 8-24 hours again to take effect.  Make sure you turn off your iPad and then turn it back on to ensure that this take effect after the 8 hours (or 24hours, could be longer).  You should then see that the "No Service" icon is replaced with Vodacom-SA and the bars :)

So now you have an iPad 2, you have an activated APN and now you need airtime !!!!!!

So the problem is of course is that without an SMS interface on the iPad and of course because you have a Micro SIM and not a regular SIM, unless you have a iPhone 4 which you can use you cannot pop that SIM into another phone to receive the airtime voucher. 

There is another way !

I found this site called  - go to the site and check it out.  You can send Data bundles direct to you iPad without having to buy airtime and convert it to data.  You can also do this via your bank using a EFT payment.  Bliss.

Once you have done this, then trot over to  and register your internet device (don’t choose the cell phone option otherwise you are going to receive an SMS which you cant pick up !).  Once registered you can then view the data bundle you have just loaded and track the usage.

So now you have an iPad 2, you have an activated APN and now you have airtime/data !

Now why couldn’t the Vodacom store have done all this one-time for me ?

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  1. I could have written this post! I had exactly the same experience (technically).


    me to cellucity "expert"; "is the SIM active"
    expert "yes but it will take 2-12 hours to be enabled." morning iPad 3G still not working.

    Phone cellucity - their response, "oh you really should phone the dedicated Vodacom 3G store and discuss with [another store that is cavendish], [quote] they really know what they're talking about [unquote]"

    Me; "do you have the number?"

    Them; "no"

    Me; *google*

    Dedicated Vodacom 3G store: "no we don't know how to set the settings, phone vodacom on... "

    Vodacom "go to apn settings and set it to 'microsapn' but wait 2-12 hours for it to be active

    next day.. still not working...

    Drive to Cavendish, fuming...walk into Cellucity again. blah blah "let me have a look, oh this apn setting should be "internet"

    finally it works... I'm not surprised, this is typical customer service in South Africa.

  2. Get a wifi zoom,and tether it to your android phone, much easier :-)

  3. I was faced with the same issue with my iPad 2st gen. I got my iPad from the US before there were many micro sims in SA so I bought a normal pay as you go, activated it on vocadom4me and used my standard bank account to buy airtime for it.

    Then I made the normal sim into a micro sim like this:

    Works like a charm.

  4. Dont get a PAYG SIM, ask for a Twin Data Sim (Micro), it then works off your main contract, assuming you have one, and you dont have to worry about PAYG rubbish. This costs a mighty R9.99 a month

  5. You made it possible for me to have fun with iPad over a long, previously hopless, weekend. Thanks

  6. Well . I have just been to vodacom cavendish. Sweet guy seems to know what to do paid for whatever megs said its now ok. So must I still set APN to internet on my iPad? I have the vodacom sa goodie in the top left hand corner. Also have wi fi connection at home, so of course it's working. I wish I was 30 years younger, would be much easier

  7. Yes Janet you must add internet to the APN settings and call your service provider to ensure they enable it on your MicroSIM.

  8. Thank you very much for this post. Being a software developer I knew google will provide me the real "correct" answer.


  9. ' ' worked immediately on my ipad2.....

  10. i bought my iPad yesterday at incredible connection and the PAYG micro sim at vodacom (had it RICA'd) and all that jazz. now i went to and bought my bundle paid eft and all that! but now i am not receiving my bundle?? i have called vodacom and they keep telling me to wait 24hrs?? but on they say i should receive the bundle in 10 minutes? anyone know why this could be?

  11. Thank you Simon, That trick works like a dream, instead of me spending R105,00 on a micro sim at vodacom, madness, now I can spend that R105,00 on data bundles Yippeeeness!

  12. Or you could have just gone directly into a Vodacom store and bought a data bundle that gets loaded directly to your phone number as easy as that!

  13. I bought my ipad 2 3G last week. I changed my normal cellc simcard to micro-sim size by cutting it. The problem now is i want to retrieve my smses and if possible, make and receive calls. They say on google its possible. Please help.

  14. Tx Marc,

    Notice: We also load the Vodacom 20GB promo (R499) direct and pinless to your SIM. (prepaid SIMs) Payment via EFT.
    Should you need an invoice, contact us via Contact Us on our web.

    Other options to get the 20gig is via Credit Card from the Vodacom site(if you dont mind sharing your details on another "secure" site) or
    Visit a VodaShop...
    The old fasioned airtime conversion to data process also works...

    The Team

  15. I just want to know how the heck do I read SMS's on my micro sim I am trying to access mu online vodacom account but when I registered I chose the wrong option in stead of ticking off mobile device I ticked mobile phone so now I cannot access my acc!

    Advice any one?

  16. Thanx a lot... I was getting worried that something was wrong...

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