posted what is looks like a copy of an internal memo to Verizon customer support representatives announcing the new policy:
"I wanted to share some important updates with you regarding unlocks
We are in the process of bulk unlocking all iPhone 4 & 4s for domestic and international use (iPhone 4 can only be used domestically since it’s not a global capable phone).
What does that mean?
We have asked apple to unlock all the iPhones behind the scenes so that a customer can either take the device to another carrier (technology might still prevent the device from working), or use a third party international SIM. This process is scheduled to be completed no later than 2/11/2015.
If a customer should call you with an iPhone that has already been unlocked, it will provide a message in ACSS that will tell you that the device is unlocked. If they should call prior to 2/11, and it has not been unlocked yet, you might still have to process the request.
Unfortunately, the other 3G devices, such as the Samsung Renown or a Blackberry, could not be processed via bulk, primarily because the customer will have to follow certain steps to enter the unlock code. Your expertise is needed in these scenarios."
I was skeptical of such largess from Verizon until I started seeing multiple users posting on other forums that their Verizon iPhone 4s had unlocked itself. Here are a few:
"Well this was a surprise. I just verified that a T-Mobile sim works in my Verizon 4S" Howard Forums user
"My iPhone 4s was just unlocked by Verizon for domestic GSM use. I just ran the update to IOS 8.1.3 and after it was complete, iTunes says my phone 4s is now unlocked. I popped in an AT&T sim and I can make calls." Kitty Forums user
"I have a Verizon iPhone 4S that I got it used off of Ebay about a month ago. I put it straight onto BYO Wireless. I tried my Lycamobile SIM, and sure enough, it now works" Howard Forums user
"To bring this full circle, my 4s connected just fine to Cricket!" Howard Forums user
I'm really pleased with this unexpected consumer friendly move by Verizon. Contrary to what many think they didn't have to do it. There's no law or FCC regulation requiring carriers to unlock phones. The voluntary unlocking agreement that the major carriers signed and that went into effect Feb 11 only requires carriers to unlock phones on customer request and only if the carrier considers the phone fully paid for. Verizon apparently asked Apple to unlock all locked iPhones that were originally Verizon phones, even ones that are running on a Verizon MVNO or don't have active service on any carrier. They didn't have to do that.
The 3G-only iPhone 4s isn't subject to the special rules that Verizon has to follow as a condition for using its 700 Mhz C block LTE spectrum. Those rules require Verizon phones that use the C block, like the iPhone 5 and latter, to be sold unlocked. The iPhone 4s doesn't use the C block and isn't bound by those rules. So Verizon really did go the extra mile for their customers, former customers and even non-customers who bought a used Verizon iPhone 4s. I hope the other carriers, especially TracFone which won't unlock phones at all and Sprint and T-Mobile which appear to be making it as hard as possible to get their phones unlocked, follow Verizon's example. Unfortunately, I doubt they will.