How to Activate your SIM Card?

How to Activate your SIM Card

What is a SIM card and what does activating it mean?

SIM cards have been around for a little over two decades, traced back to 1991. The first SIM cards were the size of today’s credit cards, but they gradually reduced in size over the years.

The term ‘SIM’ stands for ‘Subscriber Identity Module’ or ‘Subscriber Identification Module’, which are both variations of the same item. SIM cards provide subscribers with access to the telecommunications network the SIM is registered with. Without SIM cards, even the simplest of mobile services, such as calls or texts, would be impossible to render.

To the network, SIMs are a means of identifying each subscriber. They contain unique information specific to the subscriber who possesses the SIM card.

traditional SIM card

A traditional SIM card in three different sizes; regular, micro and nano SIM. Source

When a SIM card is activated on a mobile network, this simply means its user can now access services on the network. Without proper activation, the subscriber will not be able to make use of the SIM card for calls, messaging, or internet activity.

How does SIM activation relate to the concept of provisioning a service?

To provision a service simply means to provide a service. If, for any reason, a subscriber’s SIM card can’t be thoroughly activated on the network, then it can’t be provisioned for.

Often times, users may experience error messages such as ‘SIM Card Not Provisioned’. With these errors, they will be unable to access the services provided by the network. Luckily, this error message can easily be resolved in a number of ways, such as

  • Restarting your phone;
  • Making sure your SIM card is placed properly;
  • Making sure your SIM card is properly activated;
  • Contacting your carrier; and/or
  • Getting a new SIM card.

What can you do with an activated SIM card that can’t be done with a SIM card that isn’t activated?

With an activated SIM card, a subscriber has full access to the range of services offered on the network, such as:

  • Make and receive phone calls;
  • Send text messages;
  • Send multimedia messages; and
  • Use the internet.

Provided the SIM card is subscribed to a phone plan where these services are offered, the subscriber will have access to these services. With a SIM card that isn’t activated, a subscriber won’t have access to any of the telco’s services.

How to activate your SIM card on Australia’s major carriers?

  • Optus
    On the Optus network, there are two types of SIM cards that can be activated: New SIMs and Replacement cards. Both SIM cards can either be prepaid or postpaid. For New prepaid SIM Cards, visit the Optus website and follow the onscreen prompts. You will be redirected to another page where you’ll be required to fill in information about your plan, as well as personal information including a valid identification and other details. Once these details have been filled, your SIM card can be activated.For New postpaid SIM Cards, it’s a slightly different process. If you are porting from an MVNO on the Optus network, you will be required to chat online with a representative to activate your SIM card. If you are not porting, you will be required to fill in your 6-18 digit order number and follow the onscreen prompts for activation.
    For replacement SIM cards, whether prepaid or postpaid, you will have to put a call through to 133937 or visit your nearest Optus store.
  • Telstra
    On the Telstra network, just like with Optus, there are two types of SIM cards that can be activated: New SIMs and Replacement cards. Both SIM cards can either be prepaid or postpaid. For Prepaid SIM cards, you will need a serial number or service number. This can be found on the Prepaid SIM pack. You will also need a valid form of identification (an Australian Driver’s License or Learner’s Permit; a Medicare Card; an Australian Passport, or; an International Passport with a valid Australian Visa.To activate your SIM, simply visit the activation site and follow the on-screen prompts. This can be done on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop without an Internet connection.
    For subscribers porting to the Telstra network who want to keep their numbers, simply select ‘I want to keep my existing number’ from the options provided on the screen prompts. Postpaid subscribers will need their Telstra SIM card and a compatible device, their mobile number, and their order number. Your order number is a 13 or 14 digit number seen at the top of your welcome letter when your SIM is delivered.With postpaid services, you only need to activate your SIM card following one of two occurrences: You upgraded your service and received a new SIM card, or you are transferring to Telstra from another provider. Once you have both requirements ready, you can activate your Telstra SIM. For SIM cards acquired from the contact centre or via Telstra 24×7 chat, activate your card here. For cards acquired online, activate your card here.
  • Vodafone
    On the Vodafone network, you only need to activate your prepaid or replacement SIM Cards. This can be done online or in store.To activate your SIM card online, insert it into the device and turn it on. Keep your activation key and a valid form of ID on hand. Your key is located on the back of your Prepaid Starter Pack. Once ready, visit the activation site and follow the onscreen prompts. Valid forms of identification include an Australian Driver’s License or Learner’s Permit; a Medicare Card; an Australian Passport; or an International Passport with a Valid Australian Visa. For nonresidents, the only acceptable form of identification is international passports.
    For in store activation’s, visit your nearest Vodafone store with any of the following means of identifications:
    • Drivers license;
    • Medicare card;
    • Australian passport;
    • International passport;
    • Concession card;
    • Proof of age card and;
    • Student ID (University or TAFE).

       If you do not have any of these, you can provide either of the following;

    • Account form;
    • Birth certificate or;
    • Passbook.

For replacement SIM cards, activation can be done via the My Vodafone website or in store. To activate your SIM via My Vodafone, you’ll need the last 10 digits of your new SIM number. Your new SIM number can be found at the top of your new SIM pack. Once available, log in to My Vodafone, navigate to Current plan, and click on Swap my SIM. Follow the onscreen prompts and wait 15 minutes. Once your former SIM has stopped working, your new SIM will begin working.

Final words: Getting rid of the SIM when you’re done with it

There are many reasons why a subscriber will no longer need a SIM card from a network. These reasons include dissatisfaction with the network, moving out of the country, and many others. To get rid of your SIM card, put a call through to the network it is connected to and follow the instructions slated for subscription cancellation.

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Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.