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Phone Unlocking Policy Discussion

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In Feb 2015, a law will come into effect regarding the locking policy of all cell phones. Meaning, you'll be able to activate your phone on domestic carriers, even if it is Sprint branded.

 

Now, how will Sprint work with this? Will they allow anyone to bring devices compatible with CDMA onto Sprint? Will manufacturers start doing what Google's been doing by making one model for all carriers? I'm curious as to how this will all work and come together. If sprints models support all LTE bands of its competitors then resale value of them would greatly increase and possible cost less to mass produce due to only needing one model.

 

Sent from my LG-LS980

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I am curious how this will play out long term also.

 

Sent from my Sprint LG G3

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In Feb 2015, a law will come into effect regarding the locking policy of all cell phones. Meaning, you'll be able to activate your phone on domestic carriers, even if it is Sprint branded.

Now, how will Sprint work with this? Will they allow anyone to bring devices compatible with CDMA onto Sprint? Will manufacturers start doing what Google's been doing by making one model for all carriers? I'm curious as to how this will all work and come together. If sprints models support all LTE bands of its competitors then resale value of them would greatly increase and possible cost less to mass produce due to only needing one model.

Sent from my LG-LS980

they can make the phone unlocked, with it accepting a sim,but isn't there away to completely disable the unused bands? Or disable the high speed HSPA capabilities?

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So does this mean that in 2015 if I wanted to leave sprint they can unlock my 6 and I can take it elsewhere since it has practically every band you can think of?

 

 

Sent from my iPhone 6 using Tapatalk

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So does this mean that in 2015 if I wanted to leave sprint they can unlock my 6 and I can take it elsewhere since it has practically every band you can think of?

 

 

Sent from my iPhone 6 using Tapatalk

No. Only devices manufactured after February 2015 will be subject this policy. Any device before is fair game.

 

-Anthony

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No. Only devices manufactured after February 2015 will be subject this policy. Any device before is fair game.

 

-Anthony

Well that sucks. Thanks!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone 6 using Tapatalk

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Well that sucks. Thanks!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone 6 using Tapatalk

The question remains whether or not Apple will. I don't see why they wouldn't, but I'm pretty sure that they do have their own carrier lock system on top of Sprint's.

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The question remains whether or not Apple will. I don't see why they wouldn't, but I'm pretty sure that they do have their own carrier lock system on top of Sprint's.

Does the law only apply to cell carriers, or to anyone? I would sure hope that Apple wouldn't be allowed to go and make locked phones because of a technicality.

 

-Anthony

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Does the law only apply to cell carriers, or to anyone? I would sure hope that Apple wouldn't be allowed to go and make locked phones because of a technicality.

 

-Anthony

I hope it applies to everyone.

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I hope it applies to everyone.

Only carriers. And it doesn't prevent the manufacturing of intentionally incompatible phones, either.

 

For example: AT&T can continue to request devices that have 3GPP band 4 disabled for WCDMA, and Sprint and Verizon can request devices that lack US GSM/WCDMA bands (as they've done in the past).

 

The unlocking law also doesn't help anyone who uses CDMA carriers, since nothing actually forces CDMA carriers to allow non-branded/unknown devices on their networks.

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It makes me wonder if you would be able to take your current phone and have a new sim card put in that would allow you to use all frequencies.  In the case of the Sprint version of the i6, all the frequencies of the other carriers are built into the phone currently.

 

Per Apple's website:

 

Model A1586*
Model A1524*

 

CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)

UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)

TD-SCDMA 1900 (F), 2000 (A)

GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

FDD-LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29)

TD-LTE (Bands 38, 39, 40, 41)

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The unlocking law also doesn't help anyone who uses CDMA carriers, since nothing actually forces CDMA carriers to allow non-branded/unknown devices on their networks.

 

This is true but with my recent experience activating a Nexus 5, adding a IMEI to their white list is a fairly trivial process, if you know who to call.

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they can make the phone unlocked, with it accepting a sim,but isn't there away to completely disable the unused bands? Or disable the high speed HSPA capabilities?

Could a carrier (such as T-Mobile, who gladly accepts other carrier devices), be willing to install new software for their techs to activate the disabled bands in the future?  If the device is already compatible, I don't see why they wouldn't be able to unlock already locked devices.

 

IIRC, there's methods that users on XDA have used to re-active disabled bands on I think Samsung devices.

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Could a carrier (such as T-Mobile, who gladly accepts other carrier devices), be willing to install new software for their techs to activate the disabled bands in the future?  If the device is already compatible, I don't see why they wouldn't be able to unlock already locked devices.

 

IIRC, there's methods that users on XDA have used to re-active disabled bands on I think Samsung devices.

That's illegal, since it requires modifying the baseband without the permission of the FCC.

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That's illegal, since it requires modifying the baseband without the permission of the FCC.

I knew modifying your ESN was bad. Didn't know about baseband modifications being bad.. Seems like this law won't do much for us Sprint users.

 

Sent from my LG-LS980

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Could a carrier (such as T-Mobile, who gladly accepts other carrier devices), be willing to install new software for their techs to activate the disabled bands in the future?  If the device is already compatible, I don't see why they wouldn't be able to unlock already locked devices.

 

IIRC, there's methods that users on XDA have used to re-active disabled bands on I think Samsung devices.

Yep just like those who tried to get their nexus 4s on tmobile LTE, it was patched in an update due to it not bieng certified for use in that band. That could be what sprint could request is all models coming in have the baseband locked down with the WCDMA bands disabled, so if you take your phone you can text, and call, but not use high speed data.

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Some clarifications for this thread...

 

This is not a "law", but rather a voluntary commitment by most members of the CTIA (the wireless carriers' trade group) to allow for device unlocking under certain conditions. That said, the CTIA came up with this policy pretty much only after it became evident that if the carriers won't do anything with respect to phone unlocking, congress was going to force them to.

 

The way I understand it, Sprint's implementation of this policy applies to phones released after Feb 10 (i.e., not necessarily "manufactured" after that date). In other words, an iPhone 6 manufactured after Feb 10 for example would not fall under this policy since the model was released before that date (though Sprint may decide to go ahead to allow for unlocking it anyway, but strictly speaking it is not covered under the official policy).

 

Because of Sprint's (relatively recent) commitment to support its rural carriers roaming alliance (many of which operate on bands different than Sprint's), I expect most of Sprint's devices that will be covered under the new policy to be usable under most other US carriers' LTE networks (except perhaps Verizon's due to their unique 700MHz band) once unlocked. Because Sprint's phones also need to be able to roam in the Americas, GSM and UMTS should be unlocked too for domestic use as my understanding is that Sprint will discontinue crippling those phones' ability to use those same frequencies and technologies in the United States as they are able to be used in other countries in the Americas (again, once the phone has been unlocked that is).

 

One thing that is not clear to me yet is what will be Sprint's unlocking policy towards devices purchased at full retail cost (i.e., unsubsidized) while the subscriber has not yet completed their service agreement. The CTIA's rules are not clear about that.

Edited by GoWireless

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One thing that is not clear to me yet is what will be Sprint's unlocking policy towards devices purchased at full retail cost (i.e., unsubsidized) while the subscriber has not yet completed their service agreement. The CTIA's rules are not clear about that.

Why would there be a service agreement if a handset is paid in full? They only exist to recoup a subsidy.

 

If you're thinking of "early" upgrades, I thought Sprint was phasing those out and following the duoploly's lead to 24 months? However, if not, then since the original contract still exists only to finish paying off the previous handset, then I would assume that only that older handset would continue to be locked.

 

If devices are not going to come unlocked out-of-the-box (like VZW's are), then they should be unlocked as a matter of course at the store upon activation (if paid in full), or once the customer goes there to pay off the balance of their Easy Pay payments.

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Some clarifications for this thread...

 

This is not a "law", but rather a voluntary commitment by most members of the CTIA (the wireless carriers' trade group) to allow for device unlocking under certain conditions. That said, the CTIA came up with this policy pretty much only after it became evident that if the carriers won't do anything with respect to phone unlocking, congress was going to force them to.

 

The way I understand it, Sprint's implementation of this policy applies to phones released after Feb 10 (i.e., not necessarily "manufactured" after that date). In other words, an iPhone 6 manufactured after Feb 10 for example would not fall under this policy since the model was released before that date (though Sprint may decide to go ahead to allow for unlocking it anyway, but strictly speaking it is not covered under the official policy).

 

Because of Sprint's (relatively recent) commitment to support its rural carriers roaming alliance (many of which operate on bands different than Sprint's), I expect most of Sprint's devices that will be covered under the new policy to be usable under most other US carriers' LTE networks (except perhaps Verizon's due to their unique 700MHz band) once unlocked. Because Sprint's phones also need to be able to roam in the Americas, GSM and UMTS should be unlocked too for domestic use as my understanding is that Sprint will discontinue crippling those phones' ability to use those same frequencies and technologies in the United States as they are able to be used in other countries in the Americas (again, once the phone has been unlocked that is).

 

One thing that is not clear to me yet is what will be Sprint's unlocking policy towards devices purchased at full retail cost (i.e., unsubsidized) while the subscriber has not yet completed their service agreement. The CTIA's rules are not clear about that.

Actually, the voluntary commitment was codified into law.

 

That said, Sprint's policy specifically indicates that the devices must be "developed and released" after February 11. The "developed" bit can be interpreted to allow Sprint even more time to keep things the way they are, since device development processes are around a year long. Whether or not they'll do that, I don't know.

 

Also, there's also no real "unlocking" capability for US CDMA devices like there is for GSM devices. Since devices must be directly reprogrammed to make them work on different carriers (which is against the DMCA), the law about phone unlocking does not apply. The law about phone unlocking is strictly about removing the mechanisms that prevent the usage of a different SIM card than the one the phone was sold for. The law is designed not to contravene/contradict the DMCA, which reprogramming/reflashing CDMA phones falls under, unfortunately.

 

Verizon is also protected, to an extent. VoLTE isn't designed to be fully authenticated and configured from the ISIM application on the UICC, so you wouldn't be able to use voice service over LTE on unbranded 3GPP-only device. I hope this changes soon, but there's no indication that anyone wants to fix it.

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Why would there be a service agreement if a handset is paid in full? They only exist to recoup a subsidy.

...

 

This is for a person who wants a new phone but is not eligible for an early upgrade yet and is willing to purchase the phone outright and without extending their contract (say for example because they intend to sell their existing phone and use the cash towards another phone which they will buy at full cost). In the past Sprint has often been reluctant to even international unlock devices in this status. I remember reading posts from quite a few pissed off customers on xda about this inane policy ("but I bought it for full price and now these $@#&ers won't [int'l] unlock it!).

 

The CTIA's regulations don't really address this sort of situation.

 

 

Actually, the voluntary commitment was codified into law.

 

...<snip>...

 

Verizon is also protected, to an extent. VoLTE isn't designed to be fully authenticated and configured from the ISIM application on the UICC, so you wouldn't be able to use voice service over LTE on unbranded 3GPP-only device. I hope this changes soon, but there's no indication that anyone wants to fix it.

 

No, the law you are talking about has to do with the legality of device unlocking by individuals owning those devices, not forcing carriers to unlock devices. The CTIA's unlocking policy which goes into full effect on Feb. 11 is an unrelated set of rules which ensures that carriers will unlock their customers' devices under certain circumstances.

 

With respect to Verizon, I don't think that they have a separate lock for LTE and for GSM/UMTS, and because all of their LTE devices are already sold unlocked this discussion is already moot for them - they are already unlocked anyway (at least as far as GSM/UMTS/LTE is concerned).

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This is for a person who wants a new phone but is not eligible for an early upgrade yet and is willing to purchase the phone outright and without extending their contract (say for example because they intend to sell their existing phone and use the cash towards another phone which they will buy at full cost). In the past Sprint has often been reluctant to even international unlock devices in this status. I remember reading posts from quite a few pissed off customers on xda about this inane policy ("but I bought it for full price and now these $@#&ers won't [int'l] unlock it!).

 

The CTIA's regulations don't really address this sort of situation.

 

 

 

No, the law you are talking about has to do with the legality of device unlocking by individuals owning those devices, not forcing carriers to unlock devices. The CTIA's unlocking policy which goes into full effect on Feb. 11 is an unrelated set of rules which ensures that carriers will unlock their customers' devices under certain circumstances.

 

With respect to Verizon, I don't think that they have a separate lock for LTE and for GSM/UMTS, and because all of their LTE devices are already sold unlocked this discussion is already moot for them - they are already unlocked anyway (at least as far as GSM/UMTS/LTE is concerned).

Hmm, I stand corrected on the law. However, I'm still concerned with Sprint's wording of its policy...

 

That said, you're correct about GSM/UMTS/LTE locks. The 3GPP part of the baseband for locking is generally an all-or-nothing scenario, and even if it wasn't, Verizon wouldn't be allowed to cripple the devices in such a manner because of the rules in the Upper 700MHz C block spectrum that prevent crippling. The problem is bringing GSM/UMTS/LTE devices that lack CDMA to Verizon. The only way to have voice, SMS, and MMS services without CDMA is VoLTE, and it's currently not designed to allow unbranded devices to automatically configure and support the service.

 

For example, Sony's unbranded Xperia Z2 supports GSM, UMTS, and LTE.  It supports all major bands for GSM, UMTS, and LTE except band 12. It even has band 13. However, when connected to the Verizon network, it cannot support voice and texting services because VoLTE cannot be fully configured from the ISIM application in the Verizon SIM card.

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Hmm, I stand corrected on the law. However, I'm still concerned with Sprint's wording of its policy...

 

That said, you're correct about GSM/UMTS/LTE locks. The 3GPP part of the baseband for locking is generally an all-or-nothing scenario, and even if it wasn't, Verizon wouldn't be allowed to cripple the devices in such a manner because of the rules in the Upper 700MHz C block spectrum that prevent crippling. The problem is bringing GSM/UMTS/LTE devices that lack CDMA to Verizon. The only way to have voice, SMS, and MMS services without CDMA is VoLTE, and it's currently not designed to allow unbranded devices to automatically configure and support the service.

 

For example, Sony's unbranded Xperia Z2 supports GSM, UMTS, and LTE. It supports all major bands for GSM, UMTS, and LTE except band 12. It even has band 13. However, when connected to the Verizon network, it cannot support voice and texting services because VoLTE cannot be fully configured from the ISIM application in the Verizon SIM card.

I agree with you with respect to CDMA. It was, is, and will be problematic, at least until VoLTE becomes ubiquitous I suppose. (Is the VoLTE incompatibility you speak of expected to remain forever?) In any case, I prefer to look at the glass half full I guess :) Even just being able to use unlocked Sprint devices on AT&T or T-Mobile would be great.

Edited by GoWireless

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I wish they can implement this now so resale value of sprint phones are higher. I really hope they will be able to unlock my 6 Plus because it seems like they do support all bands in the U.S. and mostly international too.

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Verizon is also protected, to an extent. VoLTE isn't designed to be fully authenticated and configured from the ISIM application on the UICC, so you wouldn't be able to use voice service over LTE on unbranded 3GPP-only device. I hope this changes soon, but there's no indication that anyone wants to fix it.

 

While true - I've seen people get their AT&T/T-Mobile branded iPhones to support VoLTE on Verizon (some struggle, others report no issue).

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