Apple CEO Tim Cook’s office might become a little less busy this weekend, as AT&T has just announced that it will begin to offer iPhone unlocks to month-to-month customers starting this Sunday, April 8. This move will give millions of AT&T customers the option to use alternative GSM carriers at home and abroad with minimal hassle.
AT&T issued the following statement Friday:
Beginning Sunday, April 8, we will offer qualifying customers the ability to unlock their AT&T iPhones. The only requirements are that a customer’s account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee.
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Once unlocked, customers will be able to use their iPhones on any compatible network both domestically and abroad, provided they have the correct SIM card.
iPhone owners should note, however, that even though phones such as the iPhone 4S are technically capable of connecting to CDMA networks, such as Verizon, an unlocked AT&T iPhone will only be able to connect to GSM networks.
Also of note, while an unlocked iPhone will work fine with U.S. carrier T-Mobile’s voice network, it will only be able to connect to the carrier’s 3G data network in selected areas. Most of T-Mobile’s 3G network coverage uses frequencies not supported by the iPhone.
The ability to unlock an iPhone has been possible for several years, but was until now unofficial and unsupported by Apple and major carriers. Today’s announcement means that millions of AT&T iPhone customers who have fulfilled their contract agreements are now free to switch carriers based on price, convenience, and travel, all by simply swapping a SIM card.