Verizon Lock

There's an old letter being passed around today that provides Verizon's response to the FCC about locked bootloaders.  Starting early this month, these letters began going out to anyone who had formally filed a complaint with the FCC about Verizon locking the bootloaders on phones that utilized the spectrum covered under the block C license, and they don't say anything everybody didn't already know. Verizon wants bootloaders locked, and they say you'll get better customer service if they stay that way.

And they are right.

Put away your pitchforks and hear me out. If you're reading this, and got a little hot under the collar when I said Verizon could better serve customers if the bootloader was locked down, you're not the problem. You root and ROM your phone, and when things get squirrelly you don't call customer service and gripe about it. You flash another ROM, like any smart Android geek would. Verizon isn't worried about providing customer care to you, and you don't need them to. But there are people out there who see these tricks online, get someone on Craigslist to root/unlock/flash something to their phones, and a week later when they realize the camera doesn't work as well, or the Wifi is wonky, or they can't rent movies from the Market, they get on the horn with Big Red. Those people cost Verizon money, and end up not very happy with their hacked Android phone. Plain and simple -- Verizon tech's can't help you if you don't have their software installed.

Yes, it gets old. It sucks when we get punished for problems other folks cause, but welcome to society. It's not likely to change, and VzW probably isn't violating the C block agreement by not allowing unauthorized software to run rampant on their network. You've got three choices -- only buy phones that can be unlocked, switch providers, or enjoy the hell out of your phone the way it came out of the box. Verizon has their best interests, and their shareholders best interests, in mind and we shouldn't expect anything different.

Source: Droid-Life


Reader comments

Verizon's response to FCC about bootloaders surprises nobody


Okay? So they can't help you, YOU DON'T SAY? It's really not that hard. Just make it unlockable, let the people who want to unlock do it. Just make it so you know if it is unlocked.

Great write up
Jerry, you actually slapped some sense into me. I used HTC Dev to unlock my bootloader so it's honestly a non issue for me. If you're going to root and ROM do these things: Buy another battery, and an external battery charger, I bought one for my Droid 2 and it saved my ass way too many times. Also know what you're getting into. I know when you first start out you'll be pretty clueless but don't experiment if you don't know the possible consequences. My 2 cents.

I agree. It seems cellular carriers have no problem slipping in "hidden" clauses and disclaimers in their service agreements that are detrimental to the end-user all the time. So why not include a stipulation on modded/hacked phones? Just make the language clear and upfront.

Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Go to any store of your choosing and hang around the customer service desk. You will be in awe of what the general populace expects. Also, how polite they are when they contact customer service. Now, imagine that joy times several million. It will all result in a class action suit of "if it was dangerous, you shouldn't let me do it."

BS. Put that in big letters in the service agreement, and Verizon can easily say "We didn't let you". It's not like you can accidentally root your phone.

You need to spend more time out in the real world with your "peers".

Just hang out for an hour or two inside any Verizon Wireless store and you will hear at least 2 people who are trying to return their phones over two weeks after they purchased them. This is, of course, AFTER they were told EXPLICITLY that they had 2 weeks to return their phones and they signed a contract to that effect.

You need to get a grip on the fact that most people are either 1) stupid or 2) don't give a shit about rules because all they care about is what they want.

Sad to say, but it's true. The only answer is to do what Verizon is doing. It's like gun control; some people believe that the only way to keep people from shooting themselves is to keep the guns out of their hands.

As you alluded to with the gun control comparison, this is indeed a case that boils down to personal responsibility (guns are a right bestowed by the 2nd Amendment, and each is responsible for his/her actions, versus ban all guns to try to limit the damage done by a few crazy people).

If you harm your phone, you can't expect Verizon to fix it on their dime (and they pay CS reps a *lot* to talk to customers, so each minute they spend with you means money lost). However, how is a rep on the phone supposed to know if you harmed your phone's default functionality? It's not like a big, red flag pops up when the software's been tampered with or anything. They could waste hours debugging and running through lists of possible causes for your issues, and could even end up sending you a new phone (more costs) because you damaged your perfectly functioning, non-defective phone through no fault of theirs.

It's a tough call to be honest.

You hack or unlock your phone yes, it voids your phones warrenty, but your not paying your carrier monthly for the phone are you? Your paying to use their phone service.

Depending on the issue people are having with their phones I believe that have to assist you to determine why you are aving issues to begin with. whether it is a service issue, a device issue, or an issue because you have a moded rom.

Unfortunately, incase of a modded rom, the only realy advice they can give a customer is to go back to the stock firmware and see if the issues still exist. If so, its a device or service issue. If not, its an issue with the rom you were using.

It's not likely to change, and VzW probably isn't violating the C block agreement by not allowing unauthorized software to run rampant on their network.

I think that remains to be seen. Certainly locking the boot loader is not the same thing as refusing to accept Google Wallet on the Nexus.

But I don't think they get off circulating a letter and hoping the whole thing blows over. The C Block provisions are pretty explicit in what they do and don't allow.
Go read what it says. Its pretty short and sweet.

But you could take it a step farther and argue that something like Cyanogenmod is (arguably) already authorized because its Android, and it uses the carrier's authorized radio modules.

Jury hasn't even been convened.

Well if you look at it CM roms are Authorized. Google has already made them remove all google apps from their roms. They even issued a C&D order to the CM team to stop including them in the roms.

I can see where Verizon is coming from really. IT is not the 1% of us that knows what we are doing and what it does, it is for those that like stated see what we are doing and think its cool. Then get someone to flash their phone and when something goes wrong they call Verizon for support not knowing that the min they had their phone flashed Verizons support ended.

Use of devices and applications. Licensees offering service on spectrum subject to this section shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice on the licensee's C Block network, except:

Insofar as such use would not be compliant with published technical standards reasonably necessary for the management or protection of the licensee's network

When people stop fucking with radios, PRL's, LTE switching, tethering, etc etc, Verizon no longer has an out. People will never stop, and Verizon will never have to allow the use of bootloader unlock for phones on their network. I'll bet money on this one.

A good lawyer would only need 5 minutes in our (or any) Android forums to have evidence to convince the FCC. Or even better, get Sprint to testify about how a hundred thousand Palm Pre's hacked to use Verizon towers and not get flagged as roaming looks when it's time to pay Verizon for quarterly roaming use. We can cause all sorts of damage to carrier networks, and we often do.

The right thing to do is not give them your money. It's not a popular idea, but that doesn't change anything. ya, but this is simply untrue.

A good lawyer would have a field day with any Verizon lawyer who attempted this line of argumentation. There are many analogies that illustrate what you are suggesting and how restrictive/invasive it is. You can't remove the ability to unlock a phone because of what the worst/dumbest/most deceitful people would do if that feature was available. Imagine how many other areas that type of policy could be applied to?

I can't imagine calling my service provider for help with my rooted, ROM'd phone. Chances are good that the people in these forums, or XDA, or anywhere, really, are going to a great deal more than some Virgin Mobile tech.

That's because you're probably smarter than the average consumer in this area. Imagine some dimwit who wanted a "Droid" phone to be cool, and Verizon did NOT lock anything. He followed some poorly-written instructions online to flash a ROM, and now it's broken (worst-case scenario - won't even power on). Do you think he won't try to call Verizon and get a new phone or help with this one (either way, costing them money), since he has no idea how to fix anything himself?

Not everyone is as smart and honorable (would own up to modding his phone instead of trying to slip it back to Verizon for a free replacement) like you would. If the world was full of honest, honorable people, the lock (any kind of lock) would never have had to be invented.

Bet bet? Buy a phone that doesnt lock down the bootloader (Samsung Galaxy S, Galaxy Nexus) or switch to a company that isnt hell bent on locking down your device, loading it with crapware, then trying to be your internet gatekeeper! I will not EVER spend one red cent on Verizon ever again after they dumped their customers (including myself) over to Frontier!

Clueless reporter/'journalist' misses the boat on talking about encrypted bootloaders vs unlocked bootloaders. The latter still lets you install custom ROMs and brick your phone but the former gives way more customization capabilities.

You should have brought this out instead of being Verizon's lapdog.

This wasn't about encrypted bootloaders. Angry Verizon customers filed petitions and ganged together to complain to the FCC about locked bootloaders.

I didn't write the petition, I didn't participate in the petition, and don't want to put words into anyone's mouth.

I just use a GSM provider, spend my money with folks who don't want to decide how I can use electronics I paid full price for, and wonder why others don't just do the same. The only way you'll change Verizon's mind is to hurt their wallet. 

But continue to be that angry guy on the Internet if it makes you feel better. As long as you don't try to insult my integrity, I won't care either way.

Jerry, I love you to pieces.. but what about those of us who just can't use a GSM carrier?

If I want even just 3G, it's Verizon or Sprint where I live. If I want usable 3G with the eventual possibility of LTE? It's Verizon.

It's a sad fact of life, but T-Mobile nor AT&T care about my little part of the world and we're lucky to have measly EDGE coverage in some places.

Meh. Maybe they can, but I call bullshit on that being anywhere near the true premise of their *true* argument. Verizon is about control, and stuffing what they want you to have down your throat. BS like $15/mo VZCrapNavigator (or whatever it costs these days). It's one thing to have a policy, the strictness by which they govern their customers, and yes I think GOVERN is the correct word, is a bit totalitarian. I don't mean to complain though, because I don't need them, and won't use them. Sprint's policies prefer locked bootloaders and stock firmware, but slightly off record they tend to support their root community, and I prefer that. Hell, the Sprint rep at my local store practically encouraged me to root my SGSII. They also don't screw me without lube for a family plan, but I digress...

Point of the matter, make note of this and choose your carrier accordingly. I for one wouldn't even have a Nexus phone courtesy of Verizon.

My fist android phone was a Droid. No lock, no problem. Next came a Bionic. Locked and bloated. Couldn't change kernel or over clock. Not essential but I was used to being able. I sold it and bought a Nexus. Unlocked, custom speedy kernel. Loving it. I don't have any choice about carriers as VZ is the only reliable carrier where I live. I will never buy a locked phone again. I am so pleased with my Samsung. Verizon made their choice so that tells me all I need to know about what and who they are intent on pleasing and it isn't me! I can hear you now. Loud and clear VZ, loud and clear. Hopefully in the coming days I will have carrier options. Android Nexus only need apply.

Other than starting at the G1, I went through exactly the same progression you have. Another plus is that the hardware is finally maturing. I can see using the GNex for many years...I don't think there will be any real reason to upgrade it for a very long time, especially as I'll soon be getting a tablet to use in tandem with it.

The first time I rooted my phone was to block the stuff that Verizon forced onto it. I don't want their programs. Bloatware, Crapware, etc. I don't want them taking up bandwidth or slowing my phone down. If they don't want us messing with their phones, give us something clean and inoffensive to begin with and then we'll have less reason to be mucking around...

I will be that guy...

If you bought a subsidized phone, you have no right to complain about bloatware and a locked bootloader, you got a deal. Pay full price, whine away.

You also have to remember that the customer has to sign a contract agreement for that price and as long as that person is upholding their end of the contract then they have the right to complain. Subsidized pricing was not the consumer's idea, it was the carriers' idea. And I'm sure they're making their money back on the deal or they wouldn't continue to do it.

Also, it can only be a deal if customers could get a lower price on their cellular plans if they bought the phone outright. (I think only T-Mobile does this with their Value plans, NOT VZW)

The subsidy is paid for by the customer via the monthly bill, hence the ETF fees if you leave early. While it's true that with VZW you don't get the choice of a non-subsidized monthly rate, it doesn't change the fact that you're paying the full price of that phone either way.

I am on Verizon and I typically buy Motorola phones because the hardware is top notch. The locked bootloader isn't really a problem now that we have bootstraps and what not. I service and maintain almost all of my family and friends phones because they want them rooted and running the latest and greatest software. I don't hold it against Verizon for their policies. Because as the song says the world is full of stupid people. If they allowed all their phones to be unlocked then prices for everything would go up because of some idiot that thinks he's a hacker because he can run a batch file. Also if I unlock my phone and there is a hardware defect and I can't get it fixed because I unlocked it I would be pretty pissed off. By the way I have never returned a defective device because of something I did to it.

First of all, it may not be a problem for you but truth be told, bootstrap isn't the solution. You are still locked out of the kernel and your custom ROMs will suffer because of that. Second, I do hold it against VZ because none of the other carriers are doing it, and they seem to be handling it just fine. Third, if this is truly their argument, then why not lock all their phones down across the board? Last I checked, they sell the Galaxy Nexus which isn't locked down, they sell the Samsung Charge which isn't locked down, etc etc.

The galaxy nexus has a locked bootloader. In fact, every phone has one I believe. I think people are getting locked bootloader confused with encrypted bootloader. Locked bootloaders are usually hacked in a very short time or easily unlocked, like the gnex. It is the encrypted bootloaders that cause the trouble.

How is it the other carriers are doing just fine with their tech support burden and yet don't lock sh*t down like VZ does?

Verizon could have a point with this if they actually provided decent customer service. Just because they rank the "highest" in customer satisfaction doesn't mean their CS is any good. It just means it's better than the rest. (What's the standard of comparison?)

I disagree Jerry, the # of customers that would call Big Red if they had issues with a rooted device is so small it wouldn't cost Big Red a dime. This is just a bull shit reason for Big Red to keep a lock down on their phones. They have always had this position with all of their phones. They want to keep the public from tethering their phones and use the data they are paying for anyways. Jerry I am very surprised at you. The only way this costs Big Red any money at all is when the customer roots their device they won't have to pay for tethering.

Their arguments don't work when they actually sell phones with unlockable bootloaders like the OG Droid, the Galaxy Nexus, and whatever HTC is allowing to be unlocked.

People wouldn't be pissed off if they were able to remove the bullsh*t the carriers force on there, 10 min game demo only to have it on there forever? How stupid.... Not only that, but all too often the stock OS is horrible bug ridden...and subject to bs FORCED updates whether it bricks your phone or not...I can't count how many ppl I know who's phone got bricked b/c their phones battery died during a forced update....just stupid...they're wanting to control what we do with a device, not gonna fly, that's why we bought android and not apple....

While I tend to respect this site's opinion on these matters, let's leave the legal speculation to the professionals. I am an attorney, I've done the research, looked at the regulations, read the existing case law and committee notes and based on my research Verizon is in fact violating the C Block regs. Here ( the link to the FCC complaint I sent it filled to the brim with legal jargon and arguments. The technical aspects were checked over by Nitroglycerin33 (the maker of the awesome Eclipse ROM which I'm rockin' right now by the way on my Razr) and he agreed with my technical analysis. Further, I sent my complaint not only to the FCC but to my Senator (US Senator Gillibrand D-NY) and her office agreed with my complaint and is following up with the FCC, pretty stellar considering most people don't know what the hell it actually means. So first, I encourage everyone to download my complaint, fill in your info and spam whomever or whatever entities you'd like and second before handicapping a position perhaps a query into all the laws, regs, cases and notes and a law degree should be done and had before suggesting that there is no hope or that Verizon has a valid point. One last thing, see 47 C.F.R. Section 27.16(f) to see how Verizon's response is completely insufficient according to the C Block regs no matter whether the FCC thinks that Verizon is in fact violating the regulations.

once Verizon and all cell phone companies realize that if they stop putting crapware on the phones that cannot be uninstalled maybe less people will feel the need to root.

Crapware preinstalled to start with is fine. Some people like and use some of it or would have never found that program they like if it wasn't there to start with. But for me, and I hate nascar. I don't want a nascar app that I will never use clogging up my phone. Add Amazon mp3 and several other apps to that list. If I could have just uninstalled them, I may not have rooted.

If they want to keep things locked down then they owe us more frequent and better updates. The Thunderbolt was a prime example. Those of us not rooted suffered through a series of problems (some caused by the latest update). The folks who were rooted were many steps ahead. They often sidestepped the problems and enjoyed a well functioning device months before the rest of us were finally able to catch up. I think the two go together. If they can't keep a phone operating like it should, then they should openly allow folks to make the needed modifications.

Amen. What issues are you having with your thunderbolt? I have one and have been having issues since the previous few updates.

Sorry Jerry, can't agree with you on this one. Providing a locked boot loader by default is fine, but it needs to be unlockable at the users request or with minimal hoops to jump through. As others have stated, we pay for our phones either through a 2 year contract or full price. Until carriers offer cheaper plans and no contracts when I decide to pay full price for my phone they lose the right to argue that they have any right to the phone we buy for the term of the contract or otherwise. I understand not supporting a phone running a custom ROM and even voiding warranty (although I personally think the chances of a ROM breaking my headset jack or my microphone from working etc even after restoring a ROM is almost impossible), but it is my choice to use the phone how I want and how I see fit as long as it's not breaking any laws. The carriers in the US are running on an out-dated business model that needs to change and if actions like this can stop their anti-consumer behaviors then all the better.

That said I wonder how long until there is a complaint or lawsuit against Verizon for the disabling of built in tethering in their ROMs and forcing users to pay additional fees on top of their already metered data plans. I pay for 3GB of data I will use it any way I want to, whether that be on the phone or a tethered laptop or tablet.

From section (C)(1) in regards to technical standards that could hinder the management and protection of the network.
"The potential for excessive bandwidth demand alone shall not constitute grounds for denying, limiting or restricting access to the network."

And from section (e)
"(e) Handset locking prohibited. No licensee may disable features on handsets it provides to customers, to the extent such features are compliant with the licensee's standards pursuant to paragraph (b)of this section, nor configure handsets it provides to prohibit use of such handsets on other providers' networks."

Its unfortunate, but I agree as well. Its just typical business where businessmen > consumers. Verizon does have incredible phones though despite locked bootloaders and their phones have reasonable release schedules for updates. I didn't think one can want more from the razr or from the rezound. They're already good phones the way they are.

Wow. Jerry Hildebrand, carrier apologist. I doubt you would say the same thing if your Windows laptop came without admin privileges.

Jerry is completely wrong and is obviously being paid by Verizon. ;) But seriously...

Until carriers provide timely updates to phones throughout the ENTIRE lifecycle (2 years since it was last sold new) and allow the ability to uninstall their bloatware I don't think they have a leg to stand on here. Too many carriers are releasing phones, dropping support for them, and their customers don't even get the full 2 years of updates. You can't claim 'customer support' is your motivation when you don't even provide it for the life of the product.

Verizon can't fix a non rooted phone as well. Mine is still broke after contacting Verizon, HTC, Yahoo several times. Never rooted but thinking about it to see if it will solve my issues. This will come back and bite them in the arse one day!!!

Your argument is invalid. People can still root and flash their phones with locked bootloaders. The only thing they really can't do is replace the kernel. Every single Android phone Verizon has ever released has been rooted, regardless of their locked bootloaders.

This has absolutely no bearing on customer service. What locked bootloaders are really about is attempting to lock customers into Verizon's planned obsolescence so they will buy more phones and renew their contracts.

I will also chime in here.

There are no valid reasons to lock the bootloader and there are no valid arguments about network interference etc - of the following reasons:

1. The radio that can be flashed is always a manufacturer version, regardless of bootloader lock or unlock.

2. The custom ROMs and kernels are based on drivers etc for the particular hardware (even if the ROM itself is ported from a different device).

It is not possible to create problems for the mobile network by running a custom ROM and the latest radio version. I have used fully rooted and HardSPLed (before Android) devices without any problems for the network.

The main reason for Verizon to lock a bootloader is simply to make certain that the device is branded. That is a tradition they have from Vodafone (owns 45% of them) - a carrier that has been extremely heavy on device branding with a lot of bloatware. The idea of charging monthly for navigation, charging for tethering etc is the only reason to lock a bootloader.

The best solution for this mess is not just to unlock bootloaders but also remove the carriers interference with devices. It is inappropriate that a carrier can make their own specially crafted device - instead of using a standard model that is much easier to support and update. A standard model can also move the decision to the customer - instead of having a carrier that has the exclusive right to grant or deny a device access to their service.

The US mobile market has to reach the same maturity as in Europe:

1. The devices are imported and sold by distributors - not only carriers. Independent stores can sell devices with bundled carrier plans (from more than one carrier - and even completely unlocked).
2. Carriers has to accept standard devices (i.e devices that are NOT specifically made for the carrier). For example: the carriers sell a Galaxy Note N7000 instead of making their own i717 or they sell a standard Galaxy S II instead of making different Galaxy S II, S II Epic 4G etc. If the radio has to be different - go ahead and change but keep the device as close to manufacturer standard as possible.
3. The networks itself has to be standardized - one device can be used for all carrier instead of having to buy a new device if a carrier switch is made.
4. Carrier subsidizing has to basically end and the monthly rates should be lower (instead of being used to recover subsidizing). The carrier can "include" a device if the customer selects a premium plan, otherwise an "elevated" monthly fee is charged (plan + device payment per month). That means that a BYOD customer can pay less. It also creates an economical incitament to buy the device separately and increases the competition between different retailers. The market climate becomes more healthy since the carriers are unable to "kill" devices by not carrying them.
5. The contract lengths has to be reduced, beside 24 months, 12 months should be available.

Simply put: the US mobile market have to reach European level of maturity, pricing and competition. The situation today is inappropriate for an otherwise developed nation.

The situation today with heavy branding, non-standard devices, heavy subsidizing with expensive plans, 24 months contract as the only option, tethering charges, "obligatory data plans" (on top of an already expensive voice plan) and carriers that interferes as device designers, wholesalers, retailers - just creates a troublesome situation for the customers. It has to change.

I agree with Jerry on the point he makes.

People who pay others to root/custom rom their phone and have no knowledge themselves of the process and then either screw it up messing with Overclocking apps, etc ,call VZW for help because their phone is rebooting or whatever probably has no buisness in messing with their phones in that manner.
People who do their homework come to these forums to learn and understand how to root themselves and if they have issues come back to forums like this to fix their phone wont need help from VZW.

For example if somone phone is messing up and nothing fixes it from advice from others on these forums,,, well what do you do ?

The answer is simple you unroot,(Also relock if GN) then you take it to VZW .

My sister (and her husband), brother(and his wife) have no knowledge at all of rooting/roming and I know they are not into that so I dont even discuss how to's on it because I know they will screw something up and blame it on me.Expect me to fix it for them like it was my fault.
Kinda like the Non knowledgable people who pay others to root their phones,or who dont fully understand by using one click root tools.(z4root on DX when running froyo OS for example)

I think that's the point Jerry is trying to make.

I could go on til I typed a novel but I wont haha .
To make a long post short (it may be too late already)
Understand how to root reading stickies,forum topics ect., ask questions if needed ,and better yet understand how to unroot BEFORE you ever root.
Also if your reading this(read android forums about rooting/roming most likely you understand how to or at least have common sense to ask questions if something you fully dont understand .

I dont think this is the entire reason VZW doesnt want to condone rooted phones(although it probably is one reason) ,This just sounds good in their public image.That makes VZW looks like they are looking after ya .
Kinda like moto and vzw blaming each other on the encrypted bootloader(Dx,Bionic,Razor).They both blame each other on that(passing the buck )

My question is this: How are other carriers, who are supplying unlocked bootloaders, dealing with the situation that Jerry exemplified? I'm sure Sprint/ATT/T-Mo have to deal with people complaining their phones are jacked, but you don't see news articles about them running to locked bootloaders.