Verizon gets FCC approval for a 60 day network lockdown on new phones


Verizon (disclosure: the company that owns the company that owns TC) celebrated an FCC victory this week, as the agency approved a request for a temporary network lockdown on new phones.

The carrier request the feature in February as part of a “safety check period.” The ruling presents a kind of temporary waiver on an FCC dating back to 2008. As the agency auctioned off the C block of the 700MHz spectrum to the carrier, it put a ruling in place requiring it to keep unlocked devices open to all compatible carriers.

This year Verizon argued successfully that this presents a security loophole and that a two-month waiting period would effectively help it implement a kind of fraud safety check. The company argued back in February that offering all phones unlocked upon sale has led to theft that impacts customers at a rate of around 7,000 a month.

“As a result of this activity, these customers have to deal with the inconvenience and hassle of identity theft, and Verizon sustains financial losses,” the company wrote. “While we actively work with law enforcement to stop this growing trend, it’s time that we take a stand to protect our customers.”

The FCC agreed. “This limited waiver will not undermine the underlying policy objectives of the handset unlocking rule and will, in fact, better serve the public interest,” the ruling reads. “The locking rule was adopted to enable consumers to migrate from one service provider to another on compatible networks. Allowing handsets to be locked for 60 days will not interfere significantly with this policy objective.”

Verizon says the waiting period is set to go into effect “very soon.”

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