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Verizon statement on locked bootloaders to the FCC

Posted: , by Scott H.

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Verizon statement on locked bootloaders to the FCC
Droid-Life has obtained a letter sent by Verizon to the FCC, dealing with complaints about their policy of locking down the bootloaders of their phones – notably Android smartphones, which have a sizable enthusiast following that likes to load custom versions of the OS onto their devices. If you don’t feel the need to hack your phone you probably don’t care one way or another, but past consumer agitation has lead HTC to reverse its policy on bootloader locking, and manufacturers like ASUS and Sony have also provided tools for enthusiasts to use to unlock their phones.

What’s interesting in the letter is they use the quality of customer tech support as the main reason why they insist upon locked bootloaders, rather than network bandwidth or security issues. We find that fascinating as public discussions of the pros and cons of unlocked phones usually center om network integrity and data usage. Common examples of these concerns would be unauthorized tethering and downloading pirated copies of media.

Verizon statement on locked bootloaders to the FCC
Of course gaining root generally provides the user with access to those types of illicit services, regardless of whether the bootloader is unlocked. Likewise, tiered data plans obviously block those customers from using a disproportionate amount of bandwidth, and a recent study shows that even the top 5% of unlimited data users don’t generally use more than their tiered compatriots.

Perhaps Verizon realizes the weakness of those previous arguments? Wishing to preserve the ability of their customer service reps to help customers is certainly a valid concern, although we think there ought to be a “third way” solution here, where Verizon asks all OEMs to provide an unlock tool for the bootloader, but that using the tool voids the warranty (thus relieving their customer service representatives of responsibility).

Regardless, it’s good to see that the issue is being discussed at the highest levels. Perhaps with more information like this enthusiasts and networks can craft solutions that address the needs of carriers and consumers alike.

source: Droid-Life

23 Comments
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posted on 29 Feb 2012, 15:18 16

1. HGMIV (Posts: 51; Member since: 15 Feb 2012)


If Verizon locks down the bootloaders, I'm done with them. That's the glory of Android; control of your device. I want my phone to be MY phone, not my carrier's phone.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 16:35 2

8. MorePhonesThanNeeded (Posts: 618; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)


What do you live under a rock? VZW phones all come with locked bootloaders, they don't sell any unlocked phones period. Not sure if the Nexus is unlocked on VZW, it might be locked as well.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 17:04 2

10. sgogeta4 (Posts: 391; Member since: 02 Feb 2011)


Every phone sold by VZW is locked. The difference is that the GNex is easily unlocked in 1 second on Windows. Motorola and HTC is much more complicated to do this unfortunately.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 18:11

12. Hunt3rj2 (Posts: 396; Member since: 11 Nov 2011)


And even though HTC does unlock bootloaders, the solution is hardly ideal, you have to flash the kernel via fastboot...

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 15:19 2

2. Pings (Posts: 300; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


This is stupid lock the bootloaders and I'll still root it and install custom roms. Remeber the Droid X's bootloader?

posted on 01 Mar 2012, 11:14

22. Paden (Posts: 262; Member since: 07 Jul 2011)


My thoughts exactly. One-click roots exist.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 15:26 5

3. theBankRobber (Posts: 645; Member since: 22 Sep 2011)


People blame Motorola but its really Verizon calling the shots. My Photon 4G has a easy unlock method just like the Atrix. Both are on carriers other then Verizon. Not saying Motorola doesn't get any part of the blame if your on a different carrier not Verizon and have a locked device, but its all down to who's really calling the shots.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 15:45 5

4. troybuilt (Posts: 155; Member since: 16 Dec 2011)


What I don't understand is why HTC's unlocking theirs on Verizon's network? If this statement of customer support on their devices is true, then, why is some of the other manufacturers are able to unlock their boot loaders all but Motorola. I think Motorola and Verizon are at fault here if you ask me. You got Verizon blaming Motorola and Motorola blaming Verizon for the locked bootloaders. None of these companies what to take responsiblity for it, so they play the kindergarten game of finger pointing.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 15:52

5. torr310 (Posts: 354; Member since: 27 Oct 2011)


ditto!

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 15:54 3

6. regnowsin (Posts: 1; Member since: 29 Feb 2012)


as a former VZW employee, this does kind of make sense. Customers don't tend to accept the "you screwed it up, you fix it". Some of my worst calls were folks who screwed something up, or broke it then wanted us to fix it.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 22:09 3

20. CRICKETownz (Posts: 980; Member since: 24 Oct 2009)


you do realize you'll never get a consumer to actually admit they f'd up their own phone. the motto is..."i broke it, but i bought it from you and i pay my bill so you fix it or i am switching to someone else".

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 15:59 2

7. edbdroid (Posts: 6; Member since: 16 May 2011)


"Perhaps Verizon realizes the weakness of those previous arguments? Wishing to preserve the ability of their customer service reps to help customers is certainly a valid concern, although we think there ought to be a “third way” solution here, where Verizon asks all OEMs to provide an unlock tool for the bootloader, but that using the tool voids the warranty (thus relieving their customer service representatives of responsibility)."

Clearly, you have no understanding of working in customer service and/or tech support.

"I'm sorry, you have unlocked your bootloader, Thus, you have no warranty"

Yeah. You'll keep your job for at least 15 minutes after that call.

Currently, anyone who roots their phone does so *knowing* they're violating TOS. Unless they're lucky/smart enough to UNroot their phone, there *is* no warranty. I am by *no* means a fan of locked bootloaders, but it does tend to help weed out the idiots.

Yeah, my warranty on my TBolt was voided within 24 hours of my receiving it. But I am somewhat of a Nerd, and accepted that responsibility gladly. I can imagine (easily) people demanding replacements because "Hey, I just downloaded this app from the Market, and now my phone doesn't work. What do you *mean*, it's my fault?! It's a thingy that Motorola *gave* me. I demand to speak with your Supervisor!"

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 18:19 3

13. Sniggly (Posts: 6770; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Actually, I worked in warranty too. And I can tell you that if something is stated policy, like water damage, then yes, you would keep your job after relaying that policy back to the customer. I had to tell at least one customer a day the bad news that for some reason or another they weren't qualified. I only got in trouble the one time I stood up to my supervisor over a policy that worked in the customer's favor.

And actually, this reasoning does follow consistently with Verizon's past policies. They like to be able to provide quality customer care, and part of quality is consistency. Can't provide that if there are fifteen different ROMs out there which might all have bugs and issues.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 18:19 1

14. Scott_H (Posts: 167; Member since: 28 Oct 2011)


@edbdroid - Maybe you misunderstood what is being suggested - the unlock tool would make you accept a statement that you are voiding your warranty, and the MEID of the phone would be placed in a database with your carrier.

So there would be no question what was going on when you unlock it, and the rep would see it as soon as your phone number was entered into the system.

@Sniggly - I don't disagree about customer care, I meant that the reasoning is in contrast to what is generally discussed in public forums.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 18:39 1

15. Sniggly (Posts: 6770; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


I agree with you, Scott. Verizon needs to do what it did when it invested in Android in the first place: loosen up. I don't know if you recall, but it was kind of a shock to the industry when the DROID was announced because Verizon was legendary for its software rigidity.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 16:41 1

9. 14545 (Posts: 1100; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)


That's a crock, all VZW's tech support does is have you factory reset then offer to send you a refurb. I went though like 6 Thunderbolts and it was the same two hour song and dance each time. VZW's tech support is worthless.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 18:53 6

16. W.P._Android_in_that_Order (Posts: 206; Member since: 15 Feb 2012)


Sounds to me like YOU are pretty worthless if you went thru 6 Thunderbolts.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 19:13 4

17. 14545 (Posts: 1100; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)


I just wanted the GPS to lock in less than 20+ minutes. Is that really too much to ask? Then the refurbs were in worse condition than the one that I wanted them to send back. Two of the six that went back were the ones that they sent me. When I say that, I mean they were physically defective, not software issues. One had the power button hanging off, and the other had the front piece(part underneath the glass) ripped out. I like HTC, but the TB was full of fail. Oh, and if I would try and use both bluetooth streaming and gps it would reboot. So please explain how those are my fault? The D2 I had before that did those things fine. But I wanted LTE.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 17:52

11. Yankchef (Posts: 76; Member since: 03 Feb 2012)


I would like to just make a point that perhaps if we keep pushing this and get verizon and the others to sanction this that there could be other ways they go about impairing us from using things like free tethering and so on. It could end up being worse than it is now is my point, we currently have a problem and a solution if its changed we coukd be left with a just a problem for a while

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 19:55

18. coderedpl (Posts: 1; Member since: 29 Feb 2012)


Coderedpl here, I sent the letter in and I'm glad it was posted and re-posted to multiple areas.

I will be sending both the FCC and Verizon a reply but I would like to reach out to the community for any formal ideas/comments that you guys believe should be included in reply letter. Any evidence against Verizon and this policy, list of phones on verizon that have been unlocked among other things. Lawyers welcome too ;)

If you have any, post it up here or you can email me at coderedpl@gmail.com Thank you!

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 22:00 1

19. D_Tech-tive (Posts: 104; Member since: 12 Feb 2012)


I think carriers need to just have phones come factory with bare minimum apps and let you choose what apps you want from them on the market. I hate all these apps that I'll never use running in the background even after I force close, just for them to be active again later. More phones need to come loaded like the Galaxy Nexus, and let you choose what apps are on it. That would equal less people rooting their phones.

To all carriers keep it simple!

posted on 01 Mar 2012, 08:30

21. StillStuckWithDroid (Posts: 65; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)


Sorry I am too busy playing with Ice Cream Sandwich on my Droid Bionic to read all of this......what are we complaining about...locked bootloaders? ;-)

posted on 02 Mar 2012, 06:34

23. StillStuckWithDroid (Posts: 65; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)


So tired of this argument to be honest...... here it where it is.

last quarter Verizon sold almost 8 MILLION Smartphones......8 Million

MAYBE .05% care about whether the bootloaders are locked or not....and at that number I am being kind. We are the Tech Geeks....we are the high end of the scale. Most people would never know what the hell a bootloader is.

So we can all stand up and scream about the bootloaders and Verizon will be like "what....what is that distant sound?.....sounds like a fly buzzing in another room"

THEY DONT CARE THAT YOU ARE MAD!!!!!

and everyone of you can stand up with one voice and say "Dammit....we are leaving to your competition!!!!"

Their response will be "Bye"

SO stop begging for your bootloader to be unlocked by Verizon.....because they aren't going to do it.

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