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Verizon Leaving iPhone 5 SIM Slots Unlocked as Required by FCC Network Access Regulations

NewImageLast week it was reported that the Verizon iPhone 5 is being sold with an unlocked SIM slot, allowing users with a nano-SIM or a trimmed micro-SIM from a GSM carrier such as AT&T to use the device on their networks. The Associated Press confirmed with Verizon that it will not remotely relock their iPhone 5 models. Last year, Verizon would only unlock their iPhone 4S models after 60 days.

It's worth noting that though the Verizon iPhone 5 will work on AT&T and T-Mobile's 3G network for voice and data, the phone will not work on AT&T's LTE data network. It will work on a number of international LTE networks. Apple's LTE information page details the bands that each specific model of iPhone 5 supports.

The main reason for the unlocked SIM card slot appears to be FCC network access requirements for Block C, the 700 MHz spectrum that Verizon uses for its LTE network. According to the FCC's CFR Title 47 Part 27.16 paragraph (e):
(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.
Sprint iPhone 5 models are SIM-locked, but customers can request unlocking after three months for international use. AT&T's existing unlock policy -- to unlock off-contract phones only -- remains in effect for the iPhone 5.

Top Rated Comments

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21 months ago
Bottom line: AT&T still sucks.
Rating: 14 Positives
20 months ago
Maybe Verizon allows it but at&t only unlocks your phone if you paid full price.
Still at&t locked iPhone 5's are the cheapest.

I bought mine for 499$ from eBay than i used an unlocking service from http://attiphoneunlocking.com , they unlocked it for 35$.

So i saved around 300$. My only problem with this phone that its a bit too big compared to my 4S and hardly fits into my pocket, maybe its lighter, and better camera, but its not a huge difference over the 4S, i'm thinking to will switch back..
Rating: 10 Positives
21 months ago
Way to go, FCC!
Rating: 10 Positives
21 months ago
This is bunch of garbage...They should unlock it and let people do whatever the hell they want to do once they pay the ETF......I hate the way this all runs.If have paid your dues then let me do whatever the hell I want to do with my stuff.
Rating: 8 Positives
21 months ago

This is bunch of garbage...They should unlock it and let people do whatever the hell they want to do once they pay the ETF......I hate the way this all runs.If have paid your dues then let me do whatever the hell I want to do with my stuff.


That's the way it is. If you fulfill your contract obligations, they will unlock it.

----------

Doesn't ATT use the 700MHz band as well? I guess there is something I am missing.


Verizon use 13 (700c MHz)
AT&T use 17 (700b MHz)

FCC requires the C block to be unlocked.
Rating: 4 Positives
21 months ago
How can that rule apply to all Smart Phones and yet Verizon is the only carrier that has it fully unlocked pretty much? Shouldn't it be this way for all carriers then? Is Sprint only unlocking for international use? Or does the Sprint model also work on AT&T out of the box?
Rating: 4 Positives
21 months ago
Hmm...why didn't the FCC force the other carriers to do the same thing when they purchased their LTE spectra? Is there something special about this 700Mhz band that Verizon acquired? Don't get me wrong, I think this pro-consumer regulation (for a change!) is downright fabulous--but ALL carriers should be forced to do the same thing.

And also--does that mean that all the other LTE handsets with GSM capabilities are also unlocked by Verizon? Or is the iPhone the only LTE smartphone that includes GSM radios in addition to the CDMA+LTE bands in the case of Verizon?
Rating: 3 Positives
21 months ago

Glad the FCC is stepping in. I wish they would make AT&T unlock their devices as well, tired of AT&T's unlock rules and regulations. The moment Verizon offers an LTE network that supports simultaneous voice/data I will jump ship. Tired of AT&T's rules and poor customer service.


-Mike


That's an iphone issue. The galaxy nexus and s3 support data/voice simultaneously.
Rating: 3 Positives
21 months ago

Hmm...why didn't the FCC force the other carriers to do the same thing when they purchased their LTE spectra? Is there something special about this 700Mhz band that Verizon acquired? Don't get me wrong, I think this pro-consumer regulation (for a change!) is downright fabulous--but ALL carriers should be forced to do the same thing.

And also--does that mean that all the other LTE handsets with GSM capabilities are also unlocked by Verizon? Or is the iPhone the only LTE smartphone that includes GSM radios in addition to the CDMA+LTE bands in the case of Verizon?


The other blocks weren't part of the same auction. The 'C' block was a special auction, and Google (as one of the bidders) convinced the FCC to add special conditions to the use of the block regardless of the winner. Not locking devices was one of those conditions.

IOW, we have Google to thank for this. Unfortunately, since the 'C' block was (IIRC) the most recent block to go up for auction, it's the *only* one that carries these constraints. Hopefully more future blocks will have similar conditions.
Rating: 2 Positives
21 months ago

Does this mean you can buy the iphone 5 at 199$ with a two year contract but use a different carier (example in the middle east; GSM network) ?


Yes
Rating: 2 Positives

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