"We're taking steps to combat this theft and reduce fraud", said Verizon's veep of operations Tami Erwin.
Come spring, customers with locked devices will need to contact Verizon support to have the phone unlocked, which could make it more hard for them to use other United States carriers on Verizon phones.
Although this will be a change for Verizon customers, the carrier indicates new devices will be unlocked nearly immediately - though the specific time period is not specified - after purchase via a software update.
The carrier says that it is concerned about stemming thieves, be it person-to-person or through the supply chain, and their would-be revenue streams.
Verizon is hoping that by locking down "unlocked" smartphones, it'll put a damper on smartphone theft.
This change does not impact the spirit of that agreement as it is created to deter theft by those who engage in identity theft or other fraud.
Per the restrictions imposed by the 700MHz Upper Block C spectrum auction it won in 2008, Verizon is expressly barred from locking down handsets on its network that utilize this spectrum.
The real impact of this decision will be felt by Verizon customers who frequently travel overseas and use SIM cards from other carriers while away. AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile all lock smartphones for a period of 40-60 days after purchase. So why do you think Verizon has opted to lock its phones as well?
You can use an unlocked phones on any carrier, so long as it has the appropriate SIM card inserted. As of now, the carrier will unlock your iPhone when it's activated. It plans to reveal more precise details about the policy before rolling it out. The change "will make our phones exponentially less desirable to criminals", Verizon told CNET.
Global Data analyst Avi Greengart opined that Verizon's new policy would also protect the company's devices from its competitors. Now, the phone will remain locked for a period of time after purchase, a change that may prevent phone theft. Each offers the ability to unlock a handset at some point after service has been started, but each carrier also requires the the handset has been active on the network for a certain amount of days and that the device has been completely paid off. For those that do-like global travellers-the change is going to be pretty inconvenient. "One way of saving on global roaming fees is to buy a SIM card from a local carrier".