Verizon statement on locked bootloaders to the FCC

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.

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




Posts: 52; Member since: Feb 15, 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.

8. MorePhonesThanNeeded

Posts: 645; Member since: Oct 23, 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.

10. sgogeta4

Posts: 394; Member since: Feb 02, 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.

12. Hunt3rj2

Posts: 396; Member since: Nov 11, 2011

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

2. Pings

Posts: 304; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

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

22. Paden

Posts: 262; Member since: Jul 07, 2011

My thoughts exactly. One-click roots exist.

3. theBankRobber

Posts: 682; Member since: Sep 22, 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.

4. troybuilt

Posts: 155; Member since: Dec 16, 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.

5. torr310

Posts: 1679; Member since: Oct 27, 2011


6. regnowsin

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 29, 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.

20. CRICKETownz

Posts: 980; Member since: Oct 24, 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".

7. edbdroid

Posts: 6; Member since: May 16, 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!"

13. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 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.

14. Scott_H

Posts: 167; Member since: Oct 28, 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.

15. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 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.

9. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 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.

16. W.P._Android_in_that_Order

Posts: 208; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

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

17. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 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.

11. Yankchef

Posts: 76; Member since: Feb 03, 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

18. coderedpl

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 29, 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 Thank you!

19. D_Tech-tive

Posts: 104; Member since: Feb 12, 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!

21. StillStuckWithDroid

Posts: 65; Member since: Jul 19, 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? ;-)

23. StillStuckWithDroid

Posts: 65; Member since: Jul 19, 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. end of story

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