Larry Galyen writes:

“I have an old Blackberry Bold 9650 that I would like to take Bulgaria and buy a sim card. I want to unlock the phone, but everyone seems to want money. Is there a way to get a free MEP code?  Thanks,  Larry”

Blocked mobile phone with a chain and lock

Hi, Larry.  Thanks for the great question.

I’ve been digging for an answer to your question, and I’m afraid that you’re bumping up against one of the many limitations of Blackberry.  In my opinion, this kind of outdated nonsense is what has put Blackberry, who basically invented the smart phone, at the tail end of the modern smart phone market. 

First off, let me tell you that the outfits that are trying to charge you for this information are not charging you FOR the MEP (Mobile Equipment Personalization) number, they are charging you to FIND the MEP number on your device.  They cannot generate an MEP number for you, but they can find yours, which you’ll need to unlock your Blackberry.

Here’s the problem… in order to find the MEP code, you have to go into the phone’s engineering menu.  In order to access this menu, you need a numeric key.  In order to find the key, you have to use an MEP reader tool online.  As far as paying for this goes, there are free MEP reader tools out there, but I won’t list them simply because I have given up on Blackberry and so cannot test any of them or guarantee their safety or validity. 

There may be an easier way to unlock this device, however.  If you know the person who had this phone in use on a network, or if you did, contact the network provider (ATT, Sprint, whoever) and request a phone unlock.  They will need information like the phone number that the device was attached to and whatever personally identifiable information was on the account.

Or, you can buy a second hand phone or have a friend give one to you that is already unlocked and proceed from there.

Good luck!  I hope that this helps. 

~Randal Schaffer