Free unlock codes from AT&T! How? Just ask them for it!

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 at 2:15 am | 106,609 views | trackback url

AT&T SIM card logoI’ve been seeing all of this chatter on the web, YouTube and everywhere else about unlocking phone handsets, so they can work on any provider’s network. There are dozens of companies out there who offer unlock codes for any phone, any provider, for a fee of course. You can get them on eBay, you can get them on various online sites, you can get instructions through torrent sites and so on.

The one thing you can’t get, no matter how hard you look, is the actual algorithm they use to generate these codes.

Some sites claim to have the database directly from the carrier, and others claim to have a “calculator” that generates the unlock codes. Some even require you to download a piece of software to run on your PC and send them back the info. Do not trust any of them! (especially the ones who ask you to run software on your PC to unlock your phone handset).

These pieces of software are trojans and will infect your PC with all sorts of bad things that will steal, keylog and misuse your computer while you’re not using it (i.e. join your computer to a botnet).

One can (illegally) find music, movies, software, all kinds of content online without paying for it. I wonder what prevents unlocking algorithms from falling into the file-sharing world? How is it some big secret that so many people know, but still hold close enough that they can sell it to others, but it never leaks out into the P2P community?

The online places that sell these unlock codes (not all are legit, so buyer beware if you use them), sell them for all sorts of amounts, turnaround times and immediate delivery. I’ve seen the same unlock code go from $5.99 at one online website to $39.95 on another site.

Don’t do it.

If you want to get an unlock code from your provider (mine happens to be AT&T), just call them and ask for it! That’s what I did, and after speaking to a very helpful and cordial gentleman named Abram at AT&T for about 51 minutes tonight, he emailed me the instructions + unlock code for my 6-day-old BlackBerry Bold 9700. I paid nothing at all for this unlock code, nor did I have to beg, lie or plead my case with him.

I upgraded to a BlackBerry 9700 from a BlackBerry Bold 9000 shortly after Valentines Day, and prior to that, I had a Palm Treo 680 and a Palm Treo 650 before that. All of these devices were unlocked by calling AT&T and asking them for the MPE (unlock) code. Not once did I have to download or pay for an unlock code.

To unlock your phone, the steps are easy (click images to see full-size):

  1. First, you’ll need your IMEI number, which you can get in two ways. I used the first method, because I could copy/paste the IMEI number in the highlighted row for use in another dialog later on in this process:
    1. Go to Setup -> Status, and you should see the following dialog box:
      BlackBerry finding IMEI screen
    2. Or, you can get it by entering *#06# on your handset, which will show the following answer:
      BlackBerry IMEI popup
  2. Insert your AT&T (or other provider’s) SIM card into your phone
  3. Power on the phone turn off the radio (turn Wireless option “Off”). On my BlackBerry, this is found under Setup -> Manage Connections -> Turn All Connections Off:
    BlackBerry radio disabled
  4. While still in the Settings folder, select Options, then select Advanced Options.
  5. Scroll down and select SIM Card from the list. The basic window will look like this:
    BlackBerry SIM card (before)
  6. While in this screen, type MEPD (caps or not, does not matter here). There will be nothing displayed on the screen, but after you type it, you should see the following:

    BlackBerry SIM card after MEPD

  7. Next, type MEP2 (This is typed as “MEP” alt “E”; alt “E” is the number 2 on the device’s keypad). This does not display any output on the screen. When you do this, you’ll see a screen that looks like this:

    BlackBerry network MEP code/li>

  8. Enter the unlock code that AT&T (or your provider) has given you. In my case, this was: 0128073088796123, but this code is unique for your IMEI, so my code won’t work for your phone. You’re welcome to try though:

    BlackBerry enter network MEP code

  9. Press Enter to submit the unlock code. If it worked, your SIM Card screen should now look like the following. Notice that the “Network” option now shows “Disabled”.

    BlackBerry SIM card after unlock

  10. Your phone is now unlocked!

For the curious, the IMEI itself is very similar to a credit card number, and the algorithm for creating and validating the IMEI is nearly identical. A typical IMEI number will look something like this: ABCDEF.GH.IJKLMNO.P (for example: 357240.03.512174.4).

This information contains the following basic structure:

  • ABCDEF is Type Approval Code, or “TAC”. This is the first six digits of the IMEI and it identifies the country in which type approval was sought for the phone, and the approval number. The first two digits of the TAC represent the country of approval.
  • GH is the “Final Assembly Code” or “FAC”. This identifies the place of manufacture or final assembly. It is always two digits in length.
  • IJKLMNO is the serial number of the device itself
  • P is a check digit, and is defined using a formula called “Luhn Formula“, thus sometimes the last digit is called the Luhn Check Digit and is not always set to 0

If you want to validate your own IMEI, you can use the tool at International Numbering Plans to do it.

There are plenty of other places that use this algorithm to verify the IMEI, but the magic sauce is taking the valid IMEI + the carrier name and generating a working unlock code in return. I’m going to do a bit more digging, but it has to be possible, because non-free tools exist out there that can do it.

Last Modified: Sunday, March 6th, 2016 @ 03:16

19 Responses to “Free unlock codes from AT&T! How? Just ask them for it!”

  1. may u give me the phone numbers for at&t guys

  2. hi..could you help me get the unlock code for my blackberry bold 9700? my IMEI is: 359564.03.476291.6
    my phone was locked to Globe network Philippines
    could you please email it to me?
    i will appreciate it a lot.
    thank you.

  3. Asunder / 07042010, 2:37:

    may u give me the phone numbers for at&t guys

    Call 1-800-288-2020 or use 611 from your AT&T phone to reach support. From there, they can help you.

  4. kaye / 08172010, 2:04:

    hi..could you help me get the unlock code for my blackberry bold 9700? my IMEI is: 359564.03.476291.6
    my phone was locked to Globe network Philippines
    could you please email it to me?
    i will appreciate it a lot.
    thank you.

    How would we know what your unlock code is? Just call your provider with your IMEI and ask them to provide the unlock code for you.

  5. hi..could you help me get the unlock code for my blackberry 8110 imei 351961.02.422600.5 at&t could you please email it to me?thank you.

  6. hi there. i’m from singapore and i bought a phone from a fren who had work here. it’s from at&t. been trying to unlock it since. do you think at&t will give me the unlock code if i call them? and can i have the number for at&t including country code pls.. appreciate the help..

  7. Yes, its true that most of the websites are providing the unlock codes for the new Blackberry Torch 9800. I bought a code for my BB Torch from UnlockGenie. I work well for me.

    They some alternate methods for unlocking the BB phone.

  8. @Mike Warner: Of course there are unlock codes for the BlackBerry Bold 9700…

    I own one, and as this blog post indicates, I called AT&T and they provided me with the working unlock code for my 9700, no problem, no questions.

    Perhaps they didn’t understand your request? Maybe they thought you’d misuse the unlock code? I don’t know, but they do exist, and AT&T will give you the one specific for YOUR handset.

  9. hi..could you help me get the unlock code for my model c 740 imei no. 011595-00-558569-6 at&t could you please email it to me?thank you.

  10. Please read the article. It contains the instructions you need.

  11. any update? were you able to discover the “code”. I agree, there must be a simple algorithym and it is hard to believe this hasn’t leaked to someone who wants to share it for free. everything eventually gets to people who want to share for free. this same question has been bugging me for years.

  12. Hi there may you please help me get an unlock code for my blackberry 9700 locked to at & t imei 351937.04.261079.8 many thanks

  13. please send me a code to unlock my nokia C3 mobile brought from u.s and with at&t.
    my IMEI 353388041616618

    thank you very much


  15. would it be possible to contact the AT&T people and have the unlock code even if you are not in the USA?

    Thank you very much

  16. Hi there,
    – love your article.-I have confused with myBB torc.It has same problem with yours .Many thanks for your good article.

  17. can you please help me to unlock my bold 9700
    my imei: 357360.03.871208.6

  18. Happy New Year Guy’s
    Can you send me an unlock code for my Blackberry Torch 9800 IMEI :356552.04.272547.3 it was lock on At&t. Thank a million

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Bad Behavior has blocked 1344 access attempts in the last 7 days.