It’s been a long time coming, but today users finally are able to legally unlock their mobile devices. Now when you buy a phone from a carrier, you do not need to change phones to change carriers.
Users will no longer be limited to a single carrier; the connection between the hardware and the carrier can be broken without legal action being taken against the user. It will also make the phone plan cheaper when you go abroad.
But you do need to be cautious. Not all wireless carriers have phones that will work on all networks. In the U.S., Verizon, Sprint and U.S. Cellular use CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM (Global System for Mobiles). These are the two major radio systems used in cell phones. This means that CDMA devices will never work on GSM networks and vice versa.
Before today, it was easier to swap between GSM networks because the customer information is stored on the SIM card, which can be removed, but the carrier was not obligated to accept the phone on their network. Most of the world uses GSM networks.
There is a difference between 3G and 4G LTE CDMA networks. 4G LTE CDMA phones have SIM cards because it is the LTE standard. They also have the SIM card slot, but this is for phones that are used internationally. Putting a SIM card into a CDMA card does not mean that the carrier had to recognize and support the phone.
So what does this mean for BYOD? Different companies have different BYOD policies and if a person wants to keep their phone and bring it to another network to make it easier or because another network gets better service in their area so they can do more work, there is no need for the employee or the enterprise to purchase a new phone.
But as I stated before, this comes with the awareness of the radio system the original carrier of the phone uses. Being able to unlock devices makes it much easier to keep the same device for a long time, especially if it’s an expensive phone, but there are still a few drawbacks (CDMA and GSM) to keep in mind.
This also applies to tablets as well; users are now able to unlock tablets and bring them to other carriers.
Read more about the Consumer Code of Wireless Service from ctia.org.
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