Multiple Carriers: Does AT&T Have to Unlock My iPhone?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by pittpanthersfan, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. pittpanthersfan macrumors 6502


    Jun 7, 2009
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    If Verizon gets the iPhone today, does that compel AT&T to unlock my iPhone upon request?

    I'm well aware that AT&T and Verizon use incompatible technologies (GSM vs CDMA), but it would be nice to be able to use different SIMs while abroad without jailbreaking.

    I'm wondering if legally, just the fact that it is now on multiple carriers would be reason enough...
  2. scaredpoet, Jan 11, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011

    scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007

    No. Whatever Apple does or doesn't do with Verizon doesn't obligate AT&T to do anything different. They can choose to if they want, but since there is no regulatory requirement nor can anyone argue that unlocking an AT&T iPhone will let them use it on Verizon, AT&T isn't automatically compelled to do anything.

    Also note: IF there's a Verizon iPhone announced today or soon, and IF that iPhone is a dual-mode CDMA/GSM phone, it will likely be locked to a Verizon global roaming SIM that favors Vodaphone and its GSM partners, since Vodaphone has a 45% stake in Verizon wireless. This is the standard practice for the dual-mode Blackberries that Verizon sells.

    So, one way or another, any US iPhone you get will more likely than not come SIM locked out of the box for the foreseeable future.
  3. kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    A simple search shows that many people called Verizon and got their BB world phone SIM unlocked.

    It wasn't always easy to find the right people though, and it seems to help if you've paid off the phone. But it can be done.

    When I had an Imagio dual-mode WM6 phone, people also called Verizon and got its GSM side unlocked. I even recall articles online on how to use it on GSM carriers inside the USA.
  4. scaredpoet, Jan 11, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011

    scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007

    A simple search also shows that it's possible to unlock your Blackberry and many other smartphones on AT&T as well. But this is still not the case with the iPhone.

    It's actually quite easy on AT&T to unlock your Blackberry, by calling up 611 and telling them you're traveling internationally. And it only requires that your account be in good standing for three consecutive months, if your phone is still under subsidy. I did it twice, on both Blackberries and Windows Mobile devices.

    However, that policy STILL doesn't apply to the iPhone, whether we like that policy or not.

    Whether or not Verizon applies the same "special" status to its iteration (should it occur) will probably be determined in the months after the launch. But my bet is that the treatment will be the same. Like AT&T, Verizon is going to have to invest a lot in the phone and give a lot back to Apple, and so it and Vodaphone will likely try to wring all the revenue it legally can from iPhone users.

    In any case, my answer to the OP still stands: nothing has compelled AT&T to unlock iPhones now, and they still won't be compelled post-exclusivity. It will continue to be at their option, which they haven't exercised.
  5. Carl G35c macrumors 6502

    Aug 14, 2008
    Why would they have to unlock it because there is more than one carrier of the iPhone? There is no law on locks/unlocking in the US
  6. nok123 macrumors newbie

    Dec 3, 2009
    I wonder if Apple would choose to sell an unlocked iPhone in the US (since, without exclusivity they certainly would be allowed to), perhaps selling three versions:

    1. AT&T locked version (current)
    2. Upcoming Verizon version
    3. Unlocked version

    And perhaps the unlocked version would simply come at a higher price than the others ... let's say, a price similar to unlocked versions in other countries.
  7. ulbador macrumors 68000


    Feb 11, 2010
    I really wonder if AT&T will change some of their existing policies such as this now. It's easy to keep things locked up tight when they hold the monopoly on it, but now, things such as unlocking or the Wireless Hotspot could become available (and not for an extra 20$ a month to remain competitive)
  8. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    I think it is hugely unlikely that AT&T will ever willingly unlock iPhones. Keeping them carrier locked keeps people on their network.

    Don't expect the government to mandate it; the carriers have a huge amount of power and influence with both the FCC and Congress, thanks to campaign contributions and gifts via lobbying groups. The new Congress is much less likely to interfere with the carriers.
  9. ulbador macrumors 68000


    Feb 11, 2010
    That's true, but keep in mind that they also have to stay competitive. Since Apple would obviously want to make the iPhone available on as many carriers as possible, I could see something like this becoming a possibility in the future at some point.
  10. Weiser878 macrumors regular

    Sep 9, 2009
    Its pretty much a moot point in the USA because AT&T is the ONLY 3G network that works with the GSM iPhone.

    I have my iPhone 4 unlocked, and have put a T Mobile SIM in it and can only get 2G data because T Mobile's 3G network is the wrong frequency

    The Verizon iPhone is CDMA meaning it won't work on AT&T (or T Mobile) network and the AT&T iPhone won't work on Verizon

    So, why would AT&T unlock it?
    And what good would it do you?
  11. Hype2k2 macrumors 6502


    Jul 14, 2010
    Houston, Texas
    Read the first post completely.
  12. Mliii macrumors 65816


    Jan 28, 2006
    Southern California
    There is no legal requirement for them to do it. It is unlikely that there will be any regulation requiring that they do it. And from their business perspective, why would they?
  13. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    I would not be surprised if also keeping the phone lock is Apple doing as well. AT&T might be willing to unlock them but Apple is refusing to allow it to be done because they want to make carriers been more to their will.

    Some proof that is AT&T does not have an issue unlocking some of there more exclusive phones other than the iPhone.

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