Verizon (VZ) plans to begin locking the phones that it sells, meaning customers will no longer be able to switch carriers by swapping out the sim card once they purchase a phone from the carrier. 

Verizon agreed to sell unlocked phones when it won an FCC auction of the C Block of 700MHZ spectrum in 2008. Verizon has been running its award-winning LTE network on the spectrum since. 

The network's access requirements state that the winner of the auction is prohibited from restricting access to the phones. 

No licensee may disable features on handsets it provides to customers, to the extent such features are compliant with the licensee's standards pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section, nor configure handsets it provides to prohibit use of such handsets on other providers' networks.

However, Verizon plans to do just that this spring. 

"We're taking steps to combat this theft and reduce fraud. These steps will make our phones exponentially less desirable to criminals," Tami Erwin, executive vice president of wireless operations for Verizon, said in a statement to CNET.

The company says that it will allow the phones to be unlocked following the sale, but it hasn't specified how it will do so yet. 

Verizon's competitors do not have to adhere to those FCC rules and they do lock their phones at purchase. 

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