A number of owners of Verizon iPad 2s are reporting that their devices seem to be having issues accessing the Verizon 3G network. As discussed in the Apple support forums and reported by GigaOM's The Apple Blog, the iPads are fine fresh out of the box, displaying Verizon as the carrier in the upper left of the iPad status bar. It's when owners activate an account with Verizon that things start getting a little strange.
Once the account has been set up, the word "Roaming" appears where the carrier name should be. This is usually an indication that a user is no longer on his or her carrier's network, and is using data roaming. The problem gets even stranger -- to use data service, even in an area with only a strong Verizon network signal, the iPad owner has to turn data roaming on.
GigaOM's Charles Jade notes that the problem may be related to the Preferred Roaming List, which is an internal database common to CDMA devices that determines how the device connects to a network. Some Verizon iPad 2s just aren't recognizing Verizon cell towers, so they display the "Roaming" indicator. Verizon doesn't charge subscribers for U.S. data roaming, so there's no extra cost involved, but the issue is still annoying.
Affected iPad 2s can be returned to Apple or Verizon stores for replacement, although the replacement models may still exhibit the same symptoms. There is some discussion that iOS 4.3.2 might include a fix for the roaming problem, but until then Verizon iPad 2 owners who are seeing the issue will have to be content to roam.