Disclaimer: I have MetroPCS - so maybe I need to get the IMEI activated on my account? So far Metro won't help with that. So, if that's the case then that answers my question and I'll switch to T-Mo or Solavei. But if that's not the case:
I tried the permanent unlock for the LS980 even though the thread says not for US GSM. I just noticed others in the thread said they got it working. I couldn't.
I tried the CM11 ROM, but that didn't get me signal either (but the ROM works great).
I then tried the T-Mo ROM found in the CM11 thread. That also doesn't work (though the ROM works great). In fact, it tells me (only on this ROM) "Phone Not Allowed MM#6". Suggesting it has a bad ESN, I checked it and it comes out clean. So it has to be something with the ROM.
For those that are using an LS980 on Tmo or Metro - is it because I'm on Metro and I need the IMEI activated on my account? Or does it look like I've just done something wrong? All ROMs work great, btw, so thanks to those that contributed.