Cannot sign up with GroupMe

Trying to sign up with GroupMe and getting errors confirming phone number. Contacted support and they say

Hi There,
We received your response.
Upon checking, Republic Wireless is a VOIP number, therefore you cannot use it to create a Groupme account since we no longer support it.
We suggest that you use a real mobile number that is acquired from a local telco provider.
Thank you your understanding and cooperation.

So, we don’t have “real” mobile numbers? Is there a phone setting I can change to get GroupMe to work? Anyone know why Microsoft wouldn’t “support” an RW phone number? Does it require special technology?

Jeff
Moto X4, 1GB/month data plan

Hi Jeff, Welcome to the community. This is nothing more than a policy decision on the part of GroupMe. Unfortunately, nothing that can be done by Republic to resolve this. I suggest that you let GroupMe support know of your dissatisfaction. Perhaps if enough people do, they’re reconsider their policy.

Louisdi, I don’t consider this “Solved”. There is an issue if we have phones that don’t work with every day APPs. I literally can’t function without GroupMe. Fortunately I have it, I guess before they shut down our “type” of phone numbers but my daughter (RW user) can’t get an account. You say is it’s just a policy decision but you don’t explain. Is it there policy because they hate RW or is there a functional reason. Please explain the “why”? Are we a VOIP?

Both me and my son tried to create GroupMe accounts last week and were not successful.
After a round of troubleshooting with GroupMe support on both phones it was determined that they no longer support Republic Wireless. This is true even if the underlying Sprint or T-Mobile phone number is provided during signup. Here is their final response:

From: GroupMe Support GRPME.GPME.WW.00.EN.CVG.MEG.CS.T01.SPT.00.EM@css.one.microsoft.com
Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2019 12:15:42 PM
To: xxx
Subject: RE: SR■■■■■■■■■■■■D - PIN

Hi There!

Thank you for keeping us updated.

Recently, we have updated our process for Account Creation to integrate an improved security development for all GroupMe users. GroupMe only support now a real mobile number that is acquired from a local telco provider. We no longer support virtual, VOIP numbers, Google Voice Number , Internet based phone number , landline land or Republic wireless .

In your case, it might be the phone carrier of your number is not supported by GroupMe that is why you are getting an error when you enter the PIN that you received on your phone number.

Moving forward, we highly suggest to use a different phone number to create a GroupMe account.

Thank you for your kind understanding and cooperation.

Kind Regards,
Vivialyn Q.
Groupme- a Microsoft Service

Unless anyone has a suggestion we haven’t tried, this seems final and I am posting this as more of an FYI.
Whatever new security protocol is causing Republic to be excluded is unfortunately expanding to more services.

I’ve never heard of this “GroupMe” app/service. Didn’t know Microsoft had such app.
There are plenty of alternative group messing apps/services u can use that are independent of using SMS. Such as Discord or Skype.

Sadly, yes, things only seem to be getting more restrictive in the name of security, in regards to services not accepting VOIP numbers. I feel it is a bunch of rubbish and companies that do so, are not well educated on the topic as a whole. RW numbers are unique in how users service works, but there does not seem to be anything RW can do to make their numbers exempt from the FCC classification.

Only thing u can do is to complain to the app service that set their policy to not accept RW numbers, and to inform them that they are now loosing a customer and that u are moving to a competitor app/service.

SpeedingCheetah,
Unfortunately for those of us using GM, no…there is not an option. I’m a dad to multiple kids in multiple sports. I have 8 REQUIRED GM groups. All team related communication is had through this app. There’s no way I could get all 8 different teams to have all there parents change the form of communication. If they cancel my membership, I’ll have to change providers…period. I don’t thing RW realizes that having access to GM is basically a requirement for many users. It is one of my 5 most important apps.

1 Like

Hi @kellys.mdmla4,

We recognize that members buy smart phones because they want certain functionality - including options like GroupMe, access to their banking apps, products like Venmo.

It’s not a matter of our not wanting to be able to provide a service that allows you to use those must-have apps and features. It is a decision these companies are making to exclude VoIP numbers. We continue to try to encourage these companies to re-think their policy, and we hope that you as users of the products will do the same.

the very nature of Republic is VOIP
Republic is a VOIP WiFi first with Cell backup provider, Republic carrier provider is Bandwidth(Republic former parent company) and they are the largest VOIP carrier, all Republic numbers are Bandwidth numbers and are VOIP which the FCC classify’s as a Landline (or wire-line)

the reality is 2 form authorization via text is weak and it can be spoofed, the main carriers lobbied to keep post paid cell off the unrecommend list but keep prepaid and VOIP on that list. as companies review their security policies they have removed VOIP and Prepaid.

As @louisdi states Republic has no control over another company’s policy and they are stuck in the VOIP that their business is built on

I’ve merged two conversation about GroupMe, so that we can focus the conversation in a single place.

@kellys.mdmla4,

The “Solved” indicates the question has been answered correctly. There’s not a way for our member Community to solve the issue presented. There’s nothing you can change on your phone to make Group Me accept your number. Others facing this issue can look at the topic and seeing the answer can understand that they do not need to spend time trying workarounds that won’t work.

If you don’t want the topic marked “solved” we can move it to our discussions category, but it will have less visibility there. We can move it to Questions and Answers where a check mark represents “Answered” rather than “Solved.”

So is Twitter for many…a buddy of mine who is also a RW user, has been for years now.
Unable to get a Twitter account at all.
He signs up for one, but it gets locked and closed out in under 15min due their security verification or something ( I don’t recall the exact lock out message). It has to be unlocked with a true mobile number.

Mine still works as i created and verified the account years ago when I was on my folks VZW account.

Hi @SpeedingCheetah,

I believe we already have a topic in Community about Twitter.

Does anybody know if Google Fi would have this same problem? It appears that we may be seeing a trend here, with app suppliers tightening security and thus locking out VOIP phones. I’m a long time and loyal RW user and am not wishing to switch, but if being on a VOIP service starts impacting my ability to use my phone in the way that i need/want it to, then that would seem to be the only choice. If it comes to saving a few bucks or being able to use the apps that I depend upon, I’ll cough up a few more bucks.

I do understand fully that this isn’t RW’s fault and that there is absolutely nothing that RW can do to fix the problem. I’m sure that they aren’t any happier about this than some of us are. Probably even less happy…

Maybe this is a conspiracy led by the major carriers to squash the lower cost competition… :wink:

I do believe Google Fi numbers are T-Mobile numbers so they should work (Google Voice on the other hand is called out as unsupported in the Microsoft response above)

1 Like

The citing of “security” as a reason for rejecting Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) numbers (and to a lesser extent prepaid numbers generally despite their status as “real” mobile numbers) is not entirely without merit. It largely has to do with the ability to obtain such numbers without the provider of those numbers verifying one’s identity. There’s a reason prepaid phones (and numbers) are sometimes referred to as burners. In some countries, it is impossible to obtain any phone number (including VoIP) without proving residency up to and including furnishing government issued identification. The U.S. is not one of these countries.

What needs to be impressed on service providers regarding Republic numbers specifically is not that they’re being technically backward (though they often are). Rather, the potentially winnable case to be made is that Republic knows to whom it gives phone numbers. Republic knows this despite its numbers being both VoIP and prepaid because we provide Republic a U.S. credit or debit card for payment.

I’m confident Republic is making this case to those who reject its numbers in the name of security. We, as consumers, need to be making the same case with those who should want our business. Only when they are convinced they are losing a significant number of customers are they likely to modify their policies. Meanwhile; wherever possible and I fully appreciate it’s not always possible, I choose to give my business to those providers who are shall we say more enlightened.

3 Likes

Digging a little deeper since I am now affected. The NIST authored a security advisory in 2016 that is now being adopted by industry. The authors defend absolutely their classification of VOIP as insecure by virtue of its inherent flexibility. From the comments on github:

You’re misunderstanding why it’s disallowed. Re-read section 5.1.3: " Two key requirements are that the device be uniquely addressable and that communication over the secondary channel be private. Some voice-over-IP telephone services can deliver text messages and voice calls without the need for possession of a physical device; these SHALL NOT be used for out of band authentication. "

This has nothing to do with relative strength of the communication channel, it’s all about what you prove by successfully receiving the message. SMS proves access to a device (something you have); VoIP proves knowledge of a second password (something you know). Since this factor is being combined with the requirement that you provide a password, VoIP only proves you know two passwords, which is not acceptable. (Two different types of factors are required)

So since VoIP has the capability of an end-point being something other than a unique physical device (think soft-phone), it is “depreciated” for 2FA at the federal government level. At this point the NIST is declining to revisit this premise. It doesn’t matter that Republic’s endpoint is often a device.

The NIST authors go on to advise their intended audience to use commercial services, they mention Twillo.

The analysis by @ergood is correct. SMS to a VoIP number does not prove possession of a physical device (authenticator).

There are services that can be used to distinguish between landline, mobile, and VoIP phone numbers. For example, Twilio has an API that will return information including line type.

So, while commercial clients are not mandated to follow their recommendations, many have started to receive practical implementations in their security systems that effectively exclude Republic Wireless devices. It’s not about the number but the fact that RW is being identified in the VoIP group.

A cell phone is not required to use GroupMe.
You can use GroupMe on your desktop computer by accessing it here:

1 Like

Sorry, you can not.
They won’t let you sign up for an account without a 2FA to a qualified phone.
They are not monitoring their traffic, which is why it works for RW customers who had an account prior to October.
Their new user registration system is where the VoIP verification check is being done.

thomas.filliman I’m sorry that you misunderstood me.

What you’re saying correctly is that you cannot sign up for GroupMe without a qualifying cellular phone number.

What I said was "A cell phone is not required to use GroupMe."

I have zero issues using GroupMe on my desktop computer. I signed up before I had RW, and it works quite well for me.

Edit: I didn’t want anyone to get the impression that GroupMe was completely unusable on RW if you had an existing account.

You are correct much of this (the issue with some banks in particular) is driven by the referenced NIST standard. That said, it does not impress me that the authors of said standard defend their work. That would be my expectation and that they defend it does not make it a particularly defensible position.

The bottom line is SMS is not and never was designed to be secure. That the NIST standard allows for 2FA using SMS and presents that as “secure” is all one needs to know about the seriousness of the standard.

How does one run a softphone application on something other than a device? And, Republic’s endpoint is always a device (or if one factors in Republic Anywhere) multiple devices. All of those devices are tied to a unique phone number.

Put another way, Verizon Wireless provides an online facility to send and receive text messages. One must sign into that facility using one’s Verizon number but that in and of itself does not prove possession of the device (phone).

Twilio (and others) do indeed offer services capable of identifying phone number classification (wireless, wireline, VoIP, etc.) and the carrier type on whose network the number is hosted on (PCS, RBOC, CLEC, etc.).

It’s all about the number and how it’s classified. “Republic is being identified in the VoIP group” precisely because its numbers are hosted on Bandwidth.com’s network and Bandwidth is a VoIP CLEC.

My point is not to argue with you or throw telecom acronyms around. Simply put, the NIST standard is foolishness no matter what the authors say in its defense. Speaking as a former banker, I can appreciate banks feeling the need to grant a degree of seriousness to the standard it does not deserve. Banks like telecom are heavily regulated at both the federal and state levels.

Enterprises like GroupMe have no such excuse. They’re making a policy choice, which is their right, but it’s a bad choice on their part.

2 Likes
Message an
Expert customer