Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) will activate compatible and unlocked iPhones, Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Motorola-made Nexus 6 and other devices on its network if customers bring them from other carriers.
The carrier confirmed the policy to FierceWireless but noted that the devices must be unlocked prior to being activated on its network. To complete the process, customers must visit this website and enter their device ID, such as an ESN, IMEI, or MEID number, to see if the device is eligible to activated on Verizon's network. Then they need to input their SIM card ID number or purchase a new SIM card from Verizon. After that, Verizon will offer plans for which the device is eligible and allow the customer to activate it.
Verizon spokesman Albert Aydin told FierceWireless that the process started a few days ago, and that the carrier is "accepting and activating select non-Verizon smartphones like the Nexus 6. Other examples include iOS devices such as iPhone 6 and 6 Plus or iPad Air."
It's unclear at this point how many other devices are compatible with the new policy or when more will be accepted. "As other devices get certified and approved for our network they'll be added," Aydin said, adding that Verizon does not have any more information on which devices will be added or a timeframe for doing so.
That Verizon is doing this is not surprising since all major wireless carriers now support phone unlocking. Wireless carriers started abiding fully by a code of conduct in February on unlocking phones. Carriers must clearly explain their policies on unlocking. Once postpaid customers finish their service contracts on postpaid plans, carriers must, upon request, unlock customers' phones within two business days. In terms of prepaid phones, carriers, upon request, must unlock prepaid phones no later than one year after activation. All of Verizon's LTE devices are sold unlocked.
Unlocking a device does not make it compatible with other carriers' networks though, as the device needs the chipsets and radios that can access the spectrum bands used by other carriers. Additionally, when Verizon purchased its 700 MHz spectrum for LTE service in 2008 it agreed to "open access" rules and to activate non-Verizon devices on its network. However, in practice, that did not amount to much since not many non-Verizon devices were made with radios that supported Verizon's band class in the 700 MHz band and other Verizon spectrum bands. Recently, that has started to change with more advanced smartphones and RF technology.
Verizon is also opening up its network to more devices in a bid to attract customers. A customer who brings an unlocked phone to Verizon under the new policy will only need to pay for their service, and will not need to pay any equipment installment fees on the phones since it is an unlocked device.
- see this Verizon site
- see this 9to5Mac article
- see this ZDNet article
- see this Engadget article
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Article updated Aug. 27 at 1:30 p.m. ET to clarify that all Verizon LTE devcies are sold unlocked.