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Verizon Letter To FCC Surfaces Defending Locked Bootloaders, Says They’re Not Violating Block C Regulations

Everyone in the US either has a digital television or a digital television converter. This isn’t because the FCC all of the sudden decided that US consumers needed more modern technology, it was because the FCC needed a way to get more spectrum for the nations wireless carriers.  When the FCC finally made the conversion mandatory and “switched off” the old analog television frequencies in the 700mhz range, they were then auctioned off to carriers to use for 4G/LTE.

The FCC took that 700mhz spectrum and divided it into 5 sections.  Section “D” is the most regulated section with one of the key regulations being that those who use that spectrum need to be “public service agencies”. Think government, police departments etc.  Section A, B, and E are smaller sub-sections.  Section C, or “Block C” is the largest of the 700mhz band and the one that Verizon uses for their massive 4G/LTE network.

More after the break

Before the FCC started auctioning off the spectrum in block C some added regulations came into play encouraged by Google. The biggest regulation for licensing spectrum in “block C” is the “Open Access” provision. The provision says that those using the frequencies and “block c”may  “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.”

The FCC decided that as long as the Block C license sold for more than $4.6 billion dollars they would institute the “Open Access” provision.  Google pledged that $4.6 billion dollars to put the “Open Access” provision in play.

As we are well aware one of the things some people love about Android is it’s openness and the ability to hack and flash ROMs on your phone. In order to do that you need access to the bootloader. Now many developers, like those on the XDA forum, find ways to unlock locked bootloaders, but if the OEM’s didn’t lock the bootloaders in the first place the phones would be more open.

HTC, ASUS and even Motorola have changed their position on locked bootloaders and say they will support some unlocked bootloaders, but not on Verizon Wireless.

This letter, obtained by Droid Life, is Verizon’s response to a complaint the FCC received about locked bootloaders. In the letter Verizon Wireless reveals that one of the main reasons they require locked bootloaders is to streamline tech support and customer service.

The thought has always been that carriers lock the bootloaders because unlocked bootloaders can lead to things like free wireless hotspot that is undetectable by the carrier but still taxing the bandwidth of the network.

The FCC received a complaint from an Android user who believes that in locking boot loaders Verizon is violating the “Open Access” clause.  You know what, it kind of looks like they are.

source: Droid Life
some background on Block C licenses was obtained from Azrienoch at XDA