Verizon Starts SIM Locking Phones Because They Care About Theft, Not FCC Rules (Updated)

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Jesus, Monday, can we chill already?

Verizon is going to start SIM locking the phones you buy from them. That’s significant for a number of reasons, but the most important is over the fact that they aren’t actually allowed to do that, thanks to a deal in place with the FCC that was supposed to strictly prohibit them from doing so. It’s also terrible because there will soon be a waiting period before you can use your phone on a different carrier, leaving your phone far less open to accessing other networks around the globe.

Before diving in, let’s step back for a minute. Most carriers SIM lock their phones to only work on their network out of the box. Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T all do and ask that you wait for a certain period of time with active service on a phone before unlocking it. They have to allow unlocking, though. Verizon, on the other hand, hasn’t SIM locked their phones as a part of their agreement with the FCC after they purchased Block C spectrum for use with their LTE network.

Don’t believe me? Here is the¬†exact wording from the Block C rules set:

(e)Handset locking prohibited. No licensee may disable features on handsets it provides to customers, to the extent such features are compliant with the licensee’s standards pursuant to paragraph (b)of this section, nor configure handsets it provides to prohibit use of such handsets on other providers’ networks.

I’m not sure there is any other way to read this other than Verizon completely ignoring those FCC rules they agreed to. I wouldn’t exactly expect¬†industry-lap dog Ajit Pai to care. America!

Why is Verizon doing this? They told CNET that they want to deter criminals from stealing phones because apparently they just line-up outside of Verizon stores to rob your ass. I’m not actually kidding. They appear to have told CNET that this move should help stop criminals from jacking your new phone as you make your way to a store to get it activated, or leave with one. EDIT: As was pointed out to me on Twitter, this could mean that Verizon wants to stop theft as they are shipping or transporting devices, not directly from your sweaty palms, though that’s not exactly clear. I’ve tweaked the title.

For now, this SIM lock will happen out the box, but then go away once your phone is activated. However, come this spring, it won’t be so easy to get rid of the lock. Verizon hasn’t provided any specifics, including how long the lock will be in place, but noted that they will tell us when the policy is rolled out. They also added that they’ll unlock phones even if they aren’t paid off.

Seriously, happy, Monday.




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