Verizon Will Soon Temporarily SIM Lock New Phones to Deter Theft
As of right now, smartphones purchased from Verizon Wireless are SIM-unlocked and can be used on other carriers. Most people would consider that a benefit, but Verizon says it has encouraged theft — unlocked smartphones are especially popular on the black market, because they can be used on any carrier with compatible bands. In an effort to stop bad actors in their tracks, Verizon announced Monday that it’ll begin locking phones it sells to customers for a certain period of time.
“We’re taking steps to combat this theft and reduce fraud,” Tami Erwin, executive vice president of wireless operations for Verizon, said in a statement. “These steps will make our phones exponentially less desirable to criminals.”
Verizon has yet to say how long it’ll make customers wait before it allows them to use one of their phones on another network. But it says it’ll continue to unlock phones regardless of whether they’re paid off or not, and that it’ll accept unlocked phones from other carriers. It also says that devices will get unlocked immediately through a software update.
Now, it should be noted that other wireless carriers have a SIM unlock waiting period, as well. AT&T requires you to use its service for 60 days, and then wait another 14 days after making a SIM unlock request before you can swap out your phone’s SIM card. Sprint requires that you wait 50 days, and T-Mobile users have to wait 40 days — though the carrier’s known to be lenient with this rule if you’re traveling overseas.
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.
We’re expecting to learn more about the carrier’s new policy as we get closer to its introduction in the spring.