Verizon just got the green light to start SIM locking of new handsets to its network for 60 days thanks to a partial waiver given by the FCC. This news out of the FCC is the answer to Verizon, requesting back in February, to lock devices to prevent fraud and theft.
So in February months after we wrote a story showing that Verizon was working on a new device lock policy, Verizon confirmed that it wanted to restart SIM lock phones. It wanted to lock them for 60 days before issuing automatic locking. They said fraud and theft were increasing dramatically in recent years, and that would be a good way to put it down or stop it. But when the C Block terms wouldn't allow it, they asked the wireless industry-friendly FCC to help them out.
As we predicted would be the result in February, FCC Verizon gave the "OK".
The FCC's partial cancellation allows Verizon to lock a customer's handset for 60 days from the date someone activates it on Verinson's network. When 60 days have elapsed, this is what should happen:
After the expiration of the 60-day period, Verizon will automatically unlock the handset in question, whether: (1) the customer requests that the handset be unlocked, or (2) The handset is fully paid. Thus, at the end of the initial 60 days, the unlock rule will work as it is now, and Verinson's customers will be able to use their unlocked handsets on other technologically compatible networks.
The key points are that this unlock should happen regardless of whether you request it or not, but it also needs to happen if your phone is on a payment plan and is not paid in full. Once you hit the 60-day mark, Verizon has to unlock your phone no matter what.
The FCC adds that there is an exception:
The only exception to the rule is that Verizon should not automatically unlock it within the 60-day period purchased through fraud. As a result, the granting of the 60-day waiver request is consistent with the policy underlying the unlocking rule and the rule will continue to promote competition in the handset market. In fact, granting the requested exception will actually promote the public interest by helping Verizon protect against theft and fraud. This relief will greatly reduce the market value of entities acquired through fraud, thereby reducing the incentive to commit fraud to acquire the units initially.
So at some point in the near future, when Verizon has put together a carefully formulated press release, they will implement a 60-day lock policy. This policy comes into effect as soon as a phone is activated on their network and then has to automatically go away within 60 days. During the first 60 days of your time on Verizon's network, your phone only works on their network.
In a slightly interesting note, FCC Verizon gave a partial waiver instead of issuing a declaratory decision, which is what Verizon wanted. Verizon claimed that the wording of the C Block rules already allowed them to hold handsets, but the FCC did not agree. So instead they just gave Verizon what they wanted on what could be more limited terms.
- UPDATE : Verizon has now issued a statement thanking the FCC and confirming that this new 60-day lock policy will go live "Very soon."