Verizon to Begin Carrier Locking New Smartphones

Verizon is locking up its phones

Rather than the SIM cards just working as they do now, users will soon need to contact Verizon to unlock the devices.

Details about the locking scheme, which would prevent the use of a phone's cellular capabilities with any other SIM but the original one put in, are vague at this point, but they're expected to come along as the program rolls out in spring.

The company says this is a move to prevent phone theft since an unlocked phone that can work on any network is desirable and easier to sell.

Verizon didn't previously have a SIM lock waiting period because of a deal it made the FCC, which required it to sell unlocked phones as part of its acquisition of a block of 700 megahertz spectrum.

Verizon must be dealing with a lot of theft if it is finally changing its unlocking policy. You could walk into a store and then take your new smartphone to another carrier immediately. The change could make it more hard to switch carriers in the U.S. or use a local SIM card to stay connected while traveling overseas, our sister site ZDNet said. Once this is in place, a new phone will remain locked to the Verizon network from the moment it is activated, until a software update unlocks the device. For most people, this short period will go unnoticed, as few people have unactivated phones for very long.

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It won't be until later this spring that the lock will be extended "for a brief period of time", the spokesperson said.

AT&T requires you to be an active customer for 60 days and your phone to be completely paid off before you can place an unlock request.

Regardless of whether a phone is locked to a particular network, Apple customers can protect the personal data on their phones in case of theft by using the device's. T-Mobile does offer to temporarily unlock a device for owners planning travel out of the country.

Judging from these trends, one can assume that there will be a minimum one- to two-month waiting period after activation before Verizon will unlock the device. Customers will have to request the network to unlock their device for use with an global SIM or - in a more likely scenario - if they have paid off their phone and would like to take it to another carrier.

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