Verizon iPad owners are experiencing a strange problem that has yet to crop up on the 3G version of the device: perpetual data roaming. Puzzled iPad owners have turned to Apple and Verizon for a fix but the problem may not be so easily cured.
The roaming issue may be related to the Preferred Roaming List used by CDMA carriers like Verizon. The list dictates which cell towers and networks a CDMA device should connect to. The iPad may not recognize Verizon’s network and is then plunged in to a state of perpetual data roaming. However, Verizon doesn’t charge subscribers extra for data roaming.
The roaming problem has cropped up recently and has created more than 115 replies on Apple’s support site. When a Verizon iPad is purchased and remains unactivated, the carrier’s name is displayed as it should be and hints at no roaming problems. Upon successful activation iPad owners will see ‘Roaming’ take the place of Verizon in their iPad’s menu bar. This causes the iPad to disconnect and connect to many cell towers some of which don’t belong to Verizon. The roaming annoyance also forces most Verizon iPad owners to manually switch on Data Roaming otherwise they won’t be able to connect to the Internet.
However, there is some hope. Apple is replacing iPads experiencing the roaming bug on the spot and an iOS update that may fix the problem is due within weeks. If your iPad is in a perpetual state of roaming, you can exchange at any Apple store but the problem may not be solved as noted by Charles Jade of GigaOm:
However, Apple appears to be taking it very seriously. Users are reporting Apple Stores exchanging affected Verizon iPad 2s for new ones, and that was my experience. In the Apple Store I visited, I noted Verizon iPads that had no problem correctly connecting to the 3G network, while mine remained in roaming mode. Apple tech support personnel were polite and helpful, but were unable to fix the problem. Apparently, Apple is now “capturing” iPads exhibiting this behavior and replacing them, though I was told that a replacement iPad would not necessarily work correctly, either.
As for a Software fix, iOS 4.3.2 should come within two weeks according to Boy Genius and includes a number of security fixes. Whether it cures the roaming issue is unknown but Apple is aware of the problem.