Recently a number of readers have asked me:
Why does my iPhone display “TFW” or “HOME” in the top left status bar instead of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile?
If you are a Straight Talk, Net10, Simple Mobile, Total Wireless, or Tracfone customer using an iPhone you may be wondering why you see HOME or TFW displayed in the left hand corner of your iPhone’s status bar instead of AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile.
TFW means Tracfone Wireless
This text, known as the Carrier Name, shows your wireless carrier’s name. TFW is an abbreviation for Tracfone Wireless. If you didn’t know, Straight Talk, Net10, Simple Mobile, Total Wireless, or Tracfone are Tracfone brands.
Many people ask me if their Straight Talk, Net10, or Tracfone iPhones are using the AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile network then shouldn’t their iPhone display the actual network it’s using? And well the answer is, no.
The Carrier Name is meant to show the brand name for your wireless company, not the actual network you are connected to.
So maybe you are wondering, then if I am using Straight Talk or Net10, the why doesn’t my iPhone display Straight Talk or Net 10 instead of TFW? That’s a great question too, and the answer had to do with way the Carrier Name gets set.
Your wireless carrier uses Carrier Settings on the iPhone. Carrier settings control carrier-related settings, such as the Carrier Name, network, calling, cellular data, messaging, personal hotspot, and voicemail settings. You can see which which Carrier Setting version your phone is using by looking in Settings > General > About. You may receive notifications from time to time to install new carrier-settings updates. You may have seen this notification before.
For whatever reason, Tracfone has chosen to use only have one carrier settings bundle for all three brands: Tracfone, Straight Talk, and Net 10. Perhaps Apple had a say in this. Rather than have three different settings that only differ in the name they have one.
My iPhone’s Status Bar Shows HOME
If your iPhone’s status bar show’s HOME, you may be using Straight Talk or Net10’s T-Mobile network. The iPhone uses HOME as a default Carrier Name when your wireless company has not specifically set the carrier name in the Carrier Settings
Can I Change TFW or HOME to say AT&T or Verizon?
Unfortunately, you cannot change the Carrier Name on your iPhone. In the past, it was possible to edit and install the carrier settings yourself. You could make your iPhone display whatever you wanted it to say. For example, I could have changed mine to say “smartphonematters” or “Bob”. Sometime in 2014, Apple stopped letting users install carrier settings files manually for security reasons. If for some reason, you really want to change the Carrier Name you may be able to if you jailbreak your iPhone, but that is beyond the scope of this article.
What about you? Which network are your using? What Carrier Name does your iPhone show? Leave a reply below and share.