Yesterday Verizon announced its intention to modify FCC restrictions placed on it a decade ago, requiring that the company explicitly not lock its phones. If its request is granted, Verizon plans on selling all phones as locked for a 60-day period. The company claims it needs to break the terms it previously agreed to so that it can fight an amalgamated but undefined fraud/criminal/boogeyman element. That's right, Verizon is spinning its plan to circumvent consumer protection rules as... a consumer protection move.
For context, when Verizon won the auction in a bidding war against Google for the 700MHz Upper Bock C spectrum back in 2008, there were very real terms attached to the sale. The so-called 'open platform rule' required that the winner "shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice" and explicitly not "configure handsets it provides to prohibit use of such handsets on other providers' networks." In other words, Verizon categorically promised not to do what it's unambiguously trying to do, regardless of whatever ridiculous explanations it can come up with.
Sadly, the company's anti-competitive intentions aren't new, it teased its interest in fighting the boogeyman by escaping its legal requirements last year. It even implemented a SIM lock on early Pixel 3 phones before backtracking, effectively testing the waters before this latest move. It's worth noting, the company is also under investigation by the US Department of Justice for SIM locking eSIM-equipped devices.
Verizon believes being able to lock phones for 60 days will help combat fraud, though it also claims the move will help to fight identity theft — though the logic behind that last connection eludes me. It's worth noting, mitigation strategies for preventing the use of stolen phones already exist, and inter-carrier cooperation for IMEI blocking would be far more effective. At present, Verizon claims that it will unlock phones automatically once that 60-day period has ended.
In the blog post announcing its intentions, Verizon expressed that it's submitted a request to the FCC for the change as of yesterday. And given the consumer-unfriendly decisions passed down by the agency in recent years, I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see the commission agree to this change.