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Verizon Seeks Broad Look at FCC's Handset Unlocking Mandates

Time is ripe to examine in a broader context FCC requirements for handset unlocking, Verizon told the agency in a filing posted Wednesday in docket 23-171. Requiring providers to unlock their devices, “which often contain software that prevents them from…

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operating on another carrier’s network … allows consumers to switch providers more easily,” Verizon said. But “an unlocking requirement may discourage a carrier from deeply discounting a phone because it cannot recoup its subsidy if a customer immediately moves to another carrier.” Verizon noted the rules have been inconsistent. The FCC adopted handset unlocking and other open platform requirements on carriers buying licenses in the 700 MHz upper C-block auction, Verizon noted. The carrier bought the 700 MHz licenses in an auction that ended in 2008, giving it low-band spectrum nationwide (see 0803250101). More recently, public interest groups urged handset unlocking requirements as a condition of T-Mobile’s proposed buy of Mint Mobile (see 2402220032), Verizon said: “Regardless of whether the Commission requires T-Mobile to accept some or all of the handset unlocking conditions requested, it should pursue a more considered and uniform approach to unlocking.”