Customers will have to request the network to unlock their device for use with an worldwide SIM or - in a more likely scenario - if they have paid off their phone and would like to take it to another carrier.
Verizon says, "This change does not impact the spirit of that agreement as it is created to deter theft by those who engage in identity theft or other fraud", said a spokeswoman for Verizon. Verizon says its stores have been victimized by increasingly frequent armed robberies. Probably the highest risk buyers who could see an impact would be one who buys a phone and then immediately travels out of the country with plans to install a locally-sourced SIM card to avoid global roaming fees. Verizon said the change doesn't violate FCC policy because the change is rooted in preventing theft, not preventing people from switching carriers.
Per the restrictions imposed by the 700MHz Upper Block C spectrum auction it won in 2008, Verizon is expressly barred from locking down handsets on its network that utilize this spectrum.
Verizon will no longer sell unlocked smartphones from now on. We'll have to wait until Big Red makes the official announcement on this new policy. However, in the spring it will keep the phone locked for an unspecified period after purchase. It also declined to provide a specific timeline. By keeping the phones locked after purchase, Verizon hopes fewer phones will be stolen and resold on the black market, CNET said. For example, AT&T keeps new phones locked for 60 days. But we don't know if that will be the case.
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Now, it should be noted that other wireless carriers have a SIM unlock waiting period, as well.
Verizon did not answer our questions about the impact on customers. The company will extend its unlocking timeline sometime this Spring, and plans to provide more details on the move at that time.
Verizon's following the industry norm.The company added that armed robberies at its locations were up more than 200% previous year compared to 2016. In addition to this, those customers who are in dire need of changing their sim cards will be affected as well. That's particularly the case for iPhones, which are a top target for thieves due to their high resale value.
Sprint automatically unlocks your devices 50 days after you completely pay it off.
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The new policy could help Verizon "protect itself from competition, with the locked phones making it tougher to switch", the CNET story says. By locking the phones upon purchase and activation, they become less valuable for thieves. "This is to prevent them from being stolen while in transit or in inventory", Verizon said.
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. "If it is to deter theft, then they should just allow the owner of the phone to easily unlock the phone without going through some rigmarole, right?" If there was ever a time that the FCC would roll over and let Verizon ignore rules it agreed to follow, it's now. Fixing the handsets to Verizon's network while they are on the shelves should deter crooks. In 2013, we wrote about a Verizon customer who bought an LTE-enabled Nexus 7 from Google and was on Verizon's network because the carrier hadn't "certified" the device yet. Each offers the ability to unlock a handset at some point after service has been started, but each carrier also requires the the handset has been active on the network for a certain amount of days and that the device has been completely paid off.
CNET describes one scenario in which Verizon's changed policy could be a problem for customers. One way to get around high worldwide fees from USA carriers is to buy a pre-paid SIM card from the country you're visiting and pay domestic rates for service during your trip.
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