Verizon Complains That it Must Lock Android Devices in Order to "Manage" Them
March 1, 2012 2:16 PM
Carrier's response to the FCC is unappologetic
Google Inc. (
) is supposedly a
champion of developer rights and software freedoms
. So it seems highly curious that while the majority of Android manufacturers like Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
) and HTC Corp. (
unlock their bootloaders
phones (such as the popular Droid RAZR) are still locked up tighter than Fort Knox.
Unlocked bootloaders allow for custom ROMs and the removal of
unwanted carrier "bloatware"
. This is particularly handy for independent developers, who may wish to test apps on several different versions of Android, on one device.
I. Motorola: Locked up Tight
On the other hand, a locked bootloader can be a daunting obstacle to enthusiasts. It takes a lot of effort to reverse engineer one. Although unlocking the bootloader via exploits
, the difficulty factor means it is
done for only a handful of the top selling phones
such as Apple, Inc.'s (
) iPhone. And even in these cases, the exploitation process
creates security risks
, which the company and unlockers must patch. All of this is less ideal than in the case where the carrier provides a secure, authorized bootloader unlock.
Motorola in posts to Twitter indicated that its phones were "
locked per carrier
But was this really the case?
II. Verizon Defends Locking
It appears so.
A reader of the site
filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission about the bootloader locking of Motorola phones on the network of Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (
) and Vodafone Group Plc. (
), and AT&T Inc. (
). The user complains to the FCC that the provisions of Verizon Wireless's government "Block C" spectrum license prohibit such actions.
In response to the complaint Verizon Wireless,
the largest U.S. carrier
, strongly disagrees with that sentiment. It wrote the following letter to the FCC:
Verizon's statements echo Apple's who has long
fought ardently with unlockers
III. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
In reality, Verizon and Apple are right to an extent -- greater freedom of unlocked hardware means more risk (the digital analogy of getting your drivers license) that third-party ROMs
might allow malware
or interfere with the fundamental network hardware, such as data transfer utilities or the phone's antenna-dependent signal strength algorithms.
However, it's also an excuse for control. Some of this control -- such as fighting pirated apps -- is at least mildly pro-developer. Other aspects of control, such as user monitoring and
punishing unauthorized tethers
, are more questionable, given that it can detract from a user's experience and or endanger them.
The issue of user monitoring was especially noteworthy, given that it was recently found that HTC's smartphone were
printing sensitive information
via a monitoring app. And aside from the
HTC-specific security risk
, the revelation raised
about how much data was being collected, and
who it might be shared with
. The scandal appeared to be part of what pushed HTC to unlock its bootloader.
via Twitter that it did not use Carrier IQ. But domain lookups looks show that Verizon Wireless owns IPs associated with Carrier IQ domain names, according
. Some have speculated that Verizon may have simply rebranded the app, disguising its name (which would make its above denial
correct in literal terms).
And that's not to mention that unlocking allows Verizon to lock consumers to its network by disallowing their handsets to work on other networks -- an anti-competitive technique.
And ultimately the biggest point is that locking makes a developer unable to test their product broadly on one handset, locking out small developers from the process -- or more likely convincing them to pick a less restrictive carrier/OEM.
The decision definitely makes Verizon Wireless the carrier
to choose for those considering Android development.
Verizon is the most expensive carrier and one of the least friendly U.S. carriers when it comes to developer boot unlocking. [Image Source: Flickr/Exif]
For average customers, it's one more factor to weigh. Verizon has
industry leading customer service ratings
nation's largest LTE (4G) network
, but also
charges more than any other carrier
for its data plans.
"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook
HTC Admits to Sense UI "Bloat", Says Sense 4.0 is Less Complex
March 1, 2012, 11:03 AM
Google is Now (Almost) the Proud Owner of Motorola After EU/U.S. Approval
February 14, 2012, 11:40 AM
Hackers Mug Google's Wallet App on Rooted Android Devices
February 9, 2012, 10:45 AM
Mobile Carrier Report Card: Sprint, et. al Survive Hellish Quarter
February 8, 2012, 3:42 PM
HTC Begrudgingly Allows Bootloader Unlocking
December 30, 2011, 10:33 AM
Xiaomi Mi 6 - Flash Sale on April 28 in China
April 26, 2017, 7:45 AM
Apple Watch NikeLab Limited Edition unveiled.
April 22, 2017, 6:20 AM
What is the Apple’s iPhone 8 specifications and release date?
April 14, 2017, 5:43 AM
Xiaomi Mi Pad 3 tablet with Hexa –Core SoC, Android Marshmallow
April 6, 2017, 6:40 AM
Vivo launches V5 Plus IPL edition smartphone
April 4, 2017, 11:10 AM
Samsung S8 and S8 Plus: On Sale April 21 at Major Wireless Dealers
March 30, 2017, 7:35 AM
Most Popular Articles
Surface Pro 5 Rumors - New Release Date and Price
April 22, 2017, 6:45 AM
Apple Watch NikeLab Limited Edition unveiled.
April 22, 2017, 6:20 AM
SAPPHIRE PULSE Radeon RX 580 8GD5 – Great Value for the Money
April 20, 2017, 7:47 AM
Meet the Smartphone with four cameras - Alcatel Flashphone
April 5, 2017, 11:20 AM
Dell Inspiron 17 7000 – A Premium Laptop featuring 7th Gen Intel Core i7 in a 2-in-1 Frame.
April 19, 2017, 7:45 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Galaxy Note 8 – Available Second Half 2017
Apr 28, 2017, 7:30 AM
Google Android App – Huge improvement on Nighttime Photography
Apr 27, 2017, 7:40 AM
Google Co-Founder, Sergey Brin has an Airship
Apr 26, 2017, 6:43 AM
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus – Lots of Glass that Breaks Easily
Apr 25, 2017, 7:20 AM
Samsung Galaxy S8 – Warning for Pet Owners
Apr 24, 2017, 5:59 AM
Sound Bars and the Costs?
Apr 23, 2017, 6:30 AM
Link your Brain to Your Computer – In Four Years…Maybe
Apr 22, 2017, 7:03 AM
Google Home can now identify users by their voice.
Apr 21, 2017, 7:15 AM
Amazon Lex – Now Available for Developers.
Apr 20, 2017, 6:58 AM
You can now use Instagram offline on your Android Smartphone
Apr 19, 2017, 8:00 AM
Now you can livestream to YouTube from your mobile device.
Apr 18, 2017, 8:05 AM
Google Home – Is It a Spy Device?
Apr 17, 2017, 7:30 AM
Apple added to self –driving test permit list
Apr 15, 2017, 6:21 AM
Project Scorpio – Coming on June 11
Apr 14, 2017, 6:20 AM
Looks Like Samsung Has Been Forgiven.
Apr 13, 2017, 6:50 AM
United Airlines - Blasted on China’s Social Network and the Stock Market
Apr 12, 2017, 6:50 AM
Amazon's Third-Party Sellers Hacked
Apr 11, 2017, 6:25 AM
Microsoft Surface Pro5 Details Revealed
Apr 9, 2017, 6:41 AM
Own An Android Phone? Then you could be hacked over Wi-FI
Apr 7, 2017, 6:47 AM
Apple confirms iOS 10.3 bug and its effect on iCloud Services
Apr 6, 2017, 6:30 AM
Apple Rolls Out New Version of Apple Music
Apr 5, 2017, 10:35 AM
Apple in the News
Apr 4, 2017, 9:03 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2017 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information