Last 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.
Remember last year, the first batch of Sprint-flavored iPhone 4S models arrived unlocked, but the wireless provider later issued a software update that relocked them. So it’s nice to hear that won’t be happening.
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, for its part, will unlock your handset after 90 days. And AT&T, as far as we know, is still only unlocking iPhones that are off-contract — though it did recently start bending its own rule a bit.
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