Verizon 4G LTE phones all unlocked ???

Discussion in 'Verizon Wireless' started by SteamJockey, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. SteamJockey
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    SteamJockey New Member

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    Just got off the phone with a Verizon Global Travel Group rep. She tells me that all Verizon 4G LTE phones are unlocked and that I am free to use anyone's sim card. I asked because I plan to go back to Costa Rica shortly and I would like to buy one of the ICE sim cards in the airport baggage claim area at San Jose on arrival. This would be a big savings over the global data plan.

    Can anyone tell me if that's true?
  2. FoxKat
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    FoxKat DF Super Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    Certainly not phones issued here in the US, but perhaps that's true of overseas phones. A new law was just placed into effect here in the US that makes unlocking phones from the primary carrier a crime with stiff penalties.
  3. SteamJockey
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    SteamJockey New Member

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    Always pays to check. I'm in the U.S. Strange they would tell me that but I've gotten bogus info from them before. Guess I'll call them back again and see what they say. Do you have a link to the new statute/regulation???
  4. bsweetness
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    bsweetness Moderator

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    What the rep told you is correct. Every Verizon LTE device is 100% SIM unlocked right out of the box. They're all SIM unlocked for LTE use, and all of the phones that have working GSM are also GSM unlocked for use outside of the U.S. (and some of them are unlocked for GSM use in the U.S.).

    What FoxKat is talking about doesn't apply here. The new regulation is about unlocking a carrier locked phone on your own. Verizon's LTE phones come SIM unlocked from Verizon, so no unlocking is needed. This is done in part because Verizon is required to have unlocked devices due to the agreement that was in place when they purchased some of their LTE spectrum.

    What phone do you have? Some LTE devices (such as the Thunderbolt and the Galaxy Nexus) don't have GSM radios, so they won't work for what you need. The only Verizon LTE devices with GSM radios that need some extra tinkering are the Galaxy S3 and the Note 2. They're both 100% SIM unlocked, and you can pop in an international SIM card get voice right away, but the APN settings for data aren't accessible in the stock software. You have to root in order to change those (which isn't against the regulation noted by FoxKat because you're not unlocking anything). Nothing needs to be changed on either device if you just want to be able to make calls and send texts, but you'll have to be able to change the APN settings if you want data. All of the other Verizon LTE devices that have GSM support enabled are good to go.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013
  5. SteamJockey
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    SteamJockey New Member

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    It's not a new law, but a bizarre interpretation of the DMCA by the cell carriers. DMCA is designed to protect intellectual material. I doubt they will be able to prevail should they even attempt to go to court. Time will tell.
  6. bsweetness
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    bsweetness Moderator

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    Actually, it's the Library of Congress that made the interpretation, not the cell carriers. That makes it all seem even more bizarre.
  7. SteamJockey
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    SteamJockey New Member

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    Do you know how I do that. I don't know a thing about rooting.
  8. SteamJockey
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    SteamJockey New Member

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    The law itself has never changed the EFF abd Consumers union asked the courts last year for exemptions which were granted. The exemption for unlocking was short lived. Here's what the EFF had to say, in part:

    https://www.eff.org/is-it-illegal-to-unlock-a-phone

    What changed? The DMCA prohibits "circumventing" digital locks that "control access" to copyrighted works like movies, music, books, games, and software. It's a fantastically overbroad law that bans a lot of legal, useful, and important activities. In what's supposed to be a safety valve, the U.S. Copyright Office and the Library of Congress have the power to create exemptions for important activities that would otherwise be banned by the DMCA. In 2012, EFF asked for - and won - exemptions for jailbreaking or rooting mobile phones to run unapproved software, and for using clips from DVDs and Internet video in noncommercial vids. Consumers Union and several smaller wireless carriers asked for an exemption for unlocking phones. The Copyright Office granted their exemption too - but sharply limited the window to just a few months.

    First, the good news. The legal shield for jailbreaking and rooting your phone remains up - it'll protect us at least through 2015. The shield for unlocking your phone is down, but carriers probably aren't going to start suing customers en masse, RIAA-style. And the Copyright Office's decision, contrary to what some sensational headlines have said, doesn't necessarily make unlocking illegal.

    Unlocking is in a legal grey area under the DMCA. The law was supposed to protect creative works, but it's often been misused by electronics makers to block competition and kill markets for used goods. The courts have pushed back, ruling that the DMCA doesn't protect digital locks that keep digital devices from talking to each other when creative work isn't involved. And no creative work is involved here: Wireless carriers aren't worried about "piracy" of the software on their phones, they're worried about people reselling subsidized phones at a profit. So if the matter ever reached a court, it might well decide that the DMCA does not forbid unlocking a phone.

    It would seem were back to 2011 and we were unlocking then and no one was prosecuted. Other links suggest it doesn't apply to phones purchased before 26 jan. I don't know what to think. Most of us just want to buy inexpensive sims overseas and aren't interested in switching carriers. If I'm under contract to Verizon and I switch to AT&T, Verizon would be the big winner. I'm off to AT&T and not using Verizon yet they are still billing me whether or not I used it. Sounds like they are no brighter than RIAA
  9. FoxKat
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    FoxKat DF Super Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    Well bsweetness, thanks for the clarification. I suppose I am just as naive as most others about this. I am unfortunately now more confused than before. If you can use a sim from another carrier on this phone, then what's all the hubub about regarding unlocking the phones from the carrier? Are you saying that Verizon phones are NOT locked to Verizon and that new law is irrelevant with respect to Verizon customers? Not that I would need to for my own purposes, but I certainly don't want to be giving bad advice. :blink:
  10. SteamJockey
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    SteamJockey New Member

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    FoxKat:

    Only the 4G LTE phones from big red come unlocked. all others are still locked. DMCA was enacted in 1998. During a very short period starting sometime in 2012 till Jan 2013 an exception was granted. It expired 26 Jan. I think Verizon will move away from locked phones.

    After doing some reading at EFF I'm thinking DMCA is irrelevent to locking hardware. It was intended to protect intellectual rights. Hardware is protected by Trademark and software is protected by Copyright. No one tries to tell me I cannot take my Ford to a Chevrolet dealer for repair. Really a stupid law. I don't think it would withstand a serious onslaught of legal challenges.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013
  11. bsweetness
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    bsweetness Moderator

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    For Verizon LTE devices, that's exactly what I'm saying.

    Back when Verizon purchased part of their LTE spectrum, they agreed to some special provisions, which can be found here.

    The one of the most importance here says the following:

    Verizon's older 3G-only devices that had global capabilities came SIM locked. But that all changed with their LTE devices. Every single one is SIM unlocked for LTE use. That isn't really a big deal because Verizon's LTE bands aren't really in use much of anywhere. But what is a big deal is the phones that have worked GSM functionality are also SIM unlocked for GSM use. Now, whether they're able to function with domestic GSM networks is a little hit or miss. Some of Verizon's LTE devices will work fine with GSM carriers in the U.S. (DNA, iPhone 5, Note 2), but others (RAZR HD/MAXX HD) are only unlocked for use on networks outside of the U.S. How Verizon is able to do that given the agreement is a little unclear, but it's possible that they've done something more hardware based in order to get around it.

    Either way, at this point the new interpretation of the law regarding SIM locks on cell phones does not apply to any Verizon LTE device, because they all come SIM unlocked out of the box from Verizon. It does apply to Verizon's 3G-only global devices, but for Verizon customers in good standing, a simple phone call to global support will allow you to legally unlock one of their 3G devices.
  12. bsweetness
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    bsweetness Moderator

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    I'd tread very carefully if you don't know a thing about rooting. You should read up on it and what it does before you jump in. Like I said, the Note 2 will work just fine for voice and text without rooting when using a foreign SIM. But if you really want 3G/HSPA+ data while using the foreign SIM, make sure to know what you're getting into before you do it.

    If you've accepted the most recent OTA update, you'll have to use Odin to flash some files in order to root. It's not the most straightforward process for people who are not familiar with it. If you haven't accepted the recent OTA update, there's a one-click root method that's much easier. But I'm going to assume you did install the OTA update from a week or two ago. The instructions for both can be found here.

    And this thread includes information, instructions, and discussion on how to add APN data.

    The locking of SIM slots happens on a software level in order to restrict use of the device on an unauthorized network (including the use of the operating system and other software on the phone), so technically it can be viewed as being intellectual property.
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