My new BlackBerry Passport turns out to be a great phone. But there was one minor disadvantage that had nothing to do with the phone itself. It turns out that my home in the country is in a bad spot for our corporate carrier – apparently I’m between two towers. But another carrier gets great reception. I tried carrying two phones and it’s no fun.

Most cell phones are locked to a single cell carrier — the installed SIM card is  programmed with your phone number and activated on their network. You can’t just take a SIM from another carrier, unless the phone is unlocked.

There are two ways to do this: Your carrier might do it if you pay them a fee. I have no idea what that would cost. And in my case it’s unlikely that they would give it to me for any fee because I’d only had the phone for a week. You can go to some guy on the corner who will unlock it for a fee. Or you can do what I did. I decided to unlock my new Passport myself. The video we shot shows how I did it.

First a full warning. IT World Canada is not endorsing or recommending unlocking your phone. So if you do it and void a warranty, if it causes you problems in the future or if it breaks some regulation or corporate policy or just “bricks” your phone, you are on your own.

That said I found it exceptionally easy to do. And as you will discover, we had a few laughs doing this project.

I found how to do this at crackberry.com , one of the best places to find information about anything BlackBerry. I usually dread forums of this kind. Between the condescending lectures of the so-called experts and the flames from offended and frustrated newbies, many forums are tedious at best.  But I have been impressed at the patience of the experienced and the discipline of information seekers on the site. Maybe I just caught everyone at a good time.

Anyway, I found a process there and even a firm that supplies the unlock numbers. After some due diligence I bought my unlock number and was unlocked and running in about a day. The cost was $27.95 for the unlock and a few dollars for the Nano Sim that I needed. I have no idea if there are cheaper alternatives. I can’t believe anyone else is faster or has better service – these guys were pretty patient with inquiries and very responsive. Here’s a link to their site. http://www.blackberrycodesource.com/unlock-blackberry-passport.html

Aside from that, everything you need to know is in this little video. Here’s what I did.

Step 1 – Backed up my phone using Blackberry Link.

Step 2 – Replaced the old Nano SIM in my phone with the new one from the new carrier.

Step 3 – I took the unlock number I got in the email and went to System Settings/Security and Privacy/SIM Card/Unlock Network (Not that this was different than I saw on another video – but it worked on my device). Enter the number.

Step 4 – Phoned my cell provider and asked them to activate the new SIM Code

Step 5 – Used the phone. Try the speaker phone. It’s excellent.

That’s it. As I say, I’m not recommending this to anyone, but it worked for me. And I was able to flip back and forth between the old and new carrier simply by changing the SIM card. When I have to go to the U.S. I’ll use our corporate number with our much better U.S. rates. When I’m working from home, I have stellar reception and a great data plan. Or if I go overseas I don’t have to worry about huge data charges. With an unlocked phone I can just buy a SIM card wherever I go.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada