Microsoft shares blame for the Lumia 950 Verizon issue

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The Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL will not be available either officially or unlocked on Verizon, at least in the short term. The reason for the first is that the Lumia 950 is exclusive to AT&T, and the second because both handsets lack any CDMA functionality.

The radios in both handsets could however easily support CDMA and GSM, and according to Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley the bands were specifically disabled due to Verizon making it clear they would not allow the devices on their network.

[youtube=https://youtu.be/iyn_JRlu8jc?t=1h1m18s]

(start at the 1 hour 1 min mark)

Is that however correct? Is Verizon the evil anti-Windows Phone manipulator holding the OS down?

In fact in this case Microsoft certainly has to bear a large part of the responsibility. If the unlocked handsets supported LTE band 13 then Verizon would, by law, have to support the devices, due to the Open Access Provisions mandated by the FCC for that band, after perfunctory few week-long check for compatibility (vs the usual many months long approval process).

The law as written notes:

(a) Applicability. This section shall apply only to the authorizations for Block C in the 746-757 and 776-787 MHz bands assigned and only if the results of the first auction in which licenses for such authorizations are offered satisfied the applicable reserve price.

(b) Use of devices and applications. Licensees offering service on spectrum subject to this section shall 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, except:

(1) Insofar as such use would not be compliant with published technical standards reasonably necessary for the management or protection of the licensee’s network, or

(2) As required to comply with statute or applicable government regulation.

It is clear that Microsoft themselves disabled CDMA and LTE 700 Mhz C-Block access, presumably after reaching some kind of mutually beneficial agreement with Verizon. If the relationship had broken down completely then Microsoft would just have released the handsets unlocked with all bands enabled.

What such an agreement would be is not known – maybe to carry the next Windows 10 Mobile flagship, maybe to carry the next HTC Windows 10 handset, or something else, but it is clear that Microsoft has played its own active role in keeping the Lumia 950 range from users on Verizon.

Read the full requirements at Law.Cornell.edu here.

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