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Thread: The US Could Soon Ban the Selling of Carrier-Locked Phones

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    The US Could Soon Ban the Selling of Carrier-Locked Phones

    https://www.wired.com/story/us-could...locked-phones/

    Carrier lock-in was recently prohibited in the UK.

    The transition to a Biden administration could shake up the regulatory body that governs these rules.
    The timing also coincides with a congressional proceeding that takes place every three years to determine what tweaks should be made to digital rights laws.
    2021 could be the year of the truly unlocked phone.


    i hope this happens!
    else just buy the phones from UK and ship to US?

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    You do realize that you can buy unlocked phones in the US already? The issue is when the carriers (postpaid and prepaid) refuse to activate a phone that they don't "support".
    Just another day in paradise.....

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    One of the unintended consequences of not allowing carrier locked devices will be the end or at least big limit on carrier subsidized devices. You likely wouldn't see as many cheap phones by TracFone and its subsidiaries or "free" phones with a monthly recurring credit on postpaid.

    While I doubt it would be completely done away with if all phones were required to be unlocked out of the box, I suspect it would be less common or less attractive as it is now.

    Sent from my moto g power using HoFo mobile app

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    Careful what you wish for. This would be bad news for all of us that like to mess with phones and service. All carriers would more then likely stop subsidizing cellphones and we wouldn't see some of the crazy good deals that are always out there. I do think there should be a maximum of 3-6 months that a carrier can keep a phone locked.

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    i think all phone sold unlocked would be a good move, that would not necessarily mean that phones would be sold 'unbranded' and without carrier loaded crap although if mandating unlocked phones resulted in the end of subsidies than customers would likely begin to favor and purchase the generic non carrier branded versions of devices and they may eventually dominate the market. we would also likely see fewer flagships being sold as mass market devices and the mid tier taking over the mainstream.

    i would like to see not only a ban on carrier locked phones being sold but also on IMEI/SIM pairing prevent the easy movement of device between subscriber lines that is sometimes a hard pairing such as with metro by t-mobile and boost were a SIM will not function in any handset other than the one assigned and sometimes more of a soft pairing where features are enable or disabled on the back end based on the registered IMEI as with AT&T.

    i would also like the freedom to select any plan based on talk, text and data allotments and than make my own choice to use in a phone, tablet, mobile hotspot, laptop, watch, etc. i do understand this may make unlimited offerings no longer feasible but at the same time think it would lead to the most consumer friendly and rational pricing options.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fishx65 View Post
    Careful what you wish for. This would be bad news for all of us that like to mess with phones and service. All carriers would more then likely stop subsidizing cellphones and we wouldn't see some of the crazy good deals that are always out there. I do think there should be a maximum of 3-6 months that a carrier can keep a phone locked.
    many of those deals are irrational and will go away eventually anyways, the tradeoff will be a wider selection of decent quality inexpensive unlocked phones.

    those 'deals' are really manipulation to pump up activation numbers for wall street and can only go on for so much longer.

    what we will likely see in there place are crazy cheap deals on rate plans instead of handsets which for most will mean a lower total expenditure on phone service.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VisionsDivine View Post
    ......"free" phones with a monthly recurring credit on postpaid.
    With the exception of select business accounts all postpaid carriers only sell phones on a device payment plan paid over 2 years or longer. The days of cellular contracts of yesteryear are mostly non-existent today and recurring credits to offset the monthly cost doesn't happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serial Port View Post
    With the exception of select business accounts all postpaid carriers only sell phones on a device payment plan paid over 2 years or longer. The days of cellular contracts of yesteryear are mostly non-existent today and recurring credits to offset the monthly cost doesn't happen.
    the exception is for a top tier flagships right at launch such as AT&T $800 trade in discount on iPhone 12's

    but for the most part that is exactly the case. prepaid on the other hand still has crazy handset discounts for new customers that can not possible be covered by the future bill payments. its irrational and a way to pump numbers for wall street more cheaply than on the post paid side.

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    Aren't carrier unlocked phones useless on other networks nowadays? When you get your AT&T branded phone unlocked, isn't VOLTE not supported when used on T-Mobile and vice versa?

    But I guess you can use it on other corresponding MVNO's.

    Sent from my SM-F916U1 using HoFo mobile app

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    Quote Originally Posted by munkala View Post
    Aren't carrier unlocked phones useless on other networks nowadays? When you get your AT&T branded phone unlocked, isn't VOLTE not supported when used on T-Mobile and vice versa?

    But I guess you can use it on other corresponding MVNO's.

    Sent from my SM-F916U1 using HoFo mobile app
    its hit or miss, typically the newer it is and the more high end the more likely to be universal hardware on all carriers. for example all iPhone models and all Samsung Galaxy S and Note series devices from last couple years when unlocked should work on all carriers. Now if the gaining carrier will accept the phone's IMEI for provisioning is a different story.

    lower end handset are more likely to lack all the correct radio bands or be able to properly provision features like VoLTE, Wifi calling or advanced messaging features on other carriers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by munkala View Post
    Aren't carrier unlocked phones useless on other networks nowadays? When you get your AT&T branded phone unlocked, isn't VOLTE not supported when used on T-Mobile and vice versa?

    But I guess you can use it on other corresponding MVNO's.

    Sent from my SM-F916U1 using HoFo mobile app
    Thought it was just At&t being A-holes about other carriers unlocked phones using VoltE but not sure. My new unlocked Verizon S9+ doesn't do VoltE or WiFi calling on At&t.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fishx65 View Post
    Thought it was just At&t being A-holes about other carriers unlocked phones using VoltE but not sure. My new unlocked Verizon S9+ doesn't do VoltE or WiFi calling on At&t.
    if you provide AT&T an IMEI of an AT&T phone you may find VoLTE suddenly starts working, i am sure the hardware is compatible. if even after updating to a known AT&T IMEI its not working you could flash the ROM of the unlocked version(SM-G965U1) of the phone(multiple guides available with a google search but i would stick with ones on XDA forum) even if VoLTE/VoWIFI works without flashing the unlocked ROM you may want to anyways to get rid of the Verizon 'crap ware' and have a clean samsung experience.

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    Can't wait, that's good news. USA has been the worst consumer friendly with anti competitive practices I've ever experienced in a developed country.

    Sent from my SM-N986U1 using HoFo mobile app

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    Quote Originally Posted by robbyrobby View Post
    i think all phone sold unlocked would be a good move, that would not necessarily mean that phones would be sold 'unbranded' and without carrier loaded crap although if mandating unlocked phones resulted in the end of subsidies than customers would likely begin to favor and purchase the generic non carrier branded versions of devices and they may eventually dominate the market. we would also likely see fewer flagships being sold as mass market devices and the mid tier taking over the mainstream.

    i would like to see not only a ban on carrier locked phones being sold but also on IMEI/SIM pairing prevent the easy movement of device between subscriber lines that is sometimes a hard pairing such as with metro by t-mobile and boost were a SIM will not function in any handset other than the one assigned and sometimes more of a soft pairing where features are enable or disabled on the back end based on the registered IMEI as with AT&T.

    i would also like the freedom to select any plan based on talk, text and data allotments and than make my own choice to use in a phone, tablet, mobile hotspot, laptop, watch, etc. i do understand this may make unlimited offerings no longer feasible but at the same time think it would lead to the most consumer friendly and rational pricing options.

    So the idea of banning locked devices can be a mixed bag, but also the idea of banning IMEI/SIM pairing is actually a horrible idea.

    Reason 1: If a carrier cannot sell devices specific to their networks, not only would device pricing for consumers skyrocket due to the end of subsidized pricing for devices - but the customer experience will also be worse since the devices will be incapable of supporting all the bands for every carrier. Users will start buying off-branded devices like ZTE and will sacrifice full network access across all devices, including flagships, regardless of the carrier. No single phone can, in their current size and pricing, support every band for all carriers in the US, much less outside the US. They are only capable of supporting the "most common" bands. (Could mean saying goodbye to LTE 71 and NR n71, since only T-Mobile has that band.) Adding band support would increase device size, battery consumption, and overall cost to make the devices. If the devices are too expensive, no-one will buy them.

    Though I would support enforcing that devices be sold unlocked, I still support devices being subsidized - which would likely not happen. I also think that carriers could sell unlocked devices that are still designed for their networks. Even the current iPhones do not offer full band support for all carriers in the US when sold by Apple. The ones sold by the carriers are more "carrier specific" and have more support for the carrier in question, but per Apple's terms, must be sold unlocked or unlocked within 30 days of sale. (iPhones are not carrier agnostic, so if you buy one from Verizon then switch to T-Mobile - you will have a bad experience on T-Mobile and probably switch back to Verizon. This is because the Verizon iPhone lacked full band support for T-Mobile.)

    To that end, carriers do allow devices to be unlocked either automatically after a certain amount of time used on their network, or after certain requirements are met. (IE: Phone paid off) Sometimes, the unlock may require the usage of a certain app. The FCC currently allows device locking only so carriers can offer subsidies to those devices to ensure the carriers get their money back for said devices AND offer phones for lower overall prcing.

    You actually DON'T own a device till the lease is paid off and attempting to switch to another provider with the same device constitutes stealing the device if the lease is not paid off. The carrier/creditor owns the device and therefore their own rules will apply.
    Forcing a device to be sold unlocked could encourage "device theft" from carriers since the billing for the device cannot be transferred. Carriers that would want to offer monthly payments for unlocked devices will have to partner with a creditor that could bill for it separately. There are a few companies in business that do this for some prepaid carriers. However, the billing is still currently tied to the carrier billing even with these companies, so they have to keep the device blacklisted from outside activation on other carriers till the lease is paid off. However, it is also more expensive to pay off those leases and tend to also have an APR, like credit cards do, because unlocked devices are not subsidized and therefore, cost more.

    iPhones are typically not subsidized, so they cost more up front and/or require down payment + monthly payments to the carrier. The unlocking policies of our carriers are still legal, considering that they are barred from keeping devices locked for too long, but do ensure they can continue to bill for the devices. (As it stands, any device not fully paid off cannot be activated on a different carrier, by policy and by law. The locking of the device ensures it gets paid off before you can switch with it.)

    Reason 2: IMEI/SIM pairing is actually a SECURITY FEATURE to prevent SIM swapping scams. These scams entail a hacker cloning a SIM card and using it on a different device to gain full access to a subscriber's account, so to speak. Once they get your phone number on their own devices, they can use it to gain access to literally _everything_ you have done on your phone and/or tied to your phone number. This includes all accounts that use your phone to confirm logins. They then would have access to your bank accounts, credit card accounts, Amazon, ebay, this website, and your emails - just to name a few examples. Hackers can use this information to not only wipe your accounts clean, but to fully steal your identity. Just by getting a SIM card number the same or similar to your own and plugging it into one of their own devices. AT&T and T-Mobile both had a huge problem with these scams until they began enforcing pairing to an IMEI. I also know at least one carrier allows you to re-pair your SIM to another "compatible" device directly from your account online without having to contact customer support or go into a store. (Though I'm not entirely sure if any post-paid companies do this due to activation fees.)

    https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides...unlocking-faqs
    Last edited by jmac32here; 11-27-2020 at 03:15 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by robbyrobby View Post
    its hit or miss, typically the newer it is and the more high end the more likely to be universal hardware on all carriers. for example all iPhone models and all Samsung Galaxy S and Note series devices from last couple years when unlocked should work on all carriers. Now if the gaining carrier will accept the phone's IMEI for provisioning is a different story.

    lower end handset are more likely to lack all the correct radio bands or be able to properly provision features like VoLTE, Wifi calling or advanced messaging features on other carriers.
    Even the iPhones and Samsungs tend to be missing a few bands to be able to offer full carrier support for all networks.
    Devices sold by carriers are more "carrier specific" and will have more bands to support that carrier, while lacking bands for other carriers.

    Also, devices sold by carriers that are locked tend to be subsidized, so the cost is lower and makes it easy to pay off in a year or two.
    https://www.howtogeek.com/328105/the...-your-carrier/
    https://www.howtogeek.com/271333/can...other-carrier/
    https://www.pcmag.com/news/the-iphon...rrier-agnostic

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