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 !!
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.
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 iphone.vodacom.za 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 http://www.vtime.co.za/ - 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 www.vodacom.co.za 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 ?