Why Carriers Lock Bootloaders

What is a Bootloader?

Chances are if you have ever tried to modify a phone, you know the term bootloader, or root. If you’re an IPhone user the term Jail Break may come to mind. These are all things that control how a phone operates and what you can install on it. Many phones have the bootloader unlocked, however the carriers tend to enforce that the phone maker lock it. This can be a burden for many people who like to alter their cellular devices to expand their capabilities. This may not seem like a big deal at first, after all what could they do that could bother their carrier?

What can we do with an Unlocked Bootloader?

An unlocked bootloader allows a person to freely modify the software with in the phone. This means you can freely install other operating systems onto your device. Under normal circumstances people tend to use either android or IOS of course. The devices were built on those platforms, however they can edit android extensively, and free up IOS restrictions. This allows them to freely use any apps they want, install what they want, and unlock previously locked features.

What features is always a big question, for some folks none of these matters, for others it means everything. Some people purchase phones purely based on if they can alter the software on them. One of the biggest wants for people currently is to enable WiFi tethering natively. You may be thinking that your factory phone does this, and you’re probably right. Where it gets restricted heavily is unlimited data plans, such as AT&T or Verizon. These two carriers in particular are very difficult to get into the phones because they dictate what the phone makers allow phones on their network to do.

So why do Carriers Lock the Bootloader?

If you don’t know yet, carriers hold customers who are on so called unlimited plans close, like enemies. They normally don’t allow tethering with these plans, and they always block it. However when someone managed to unlock the bootloader, people are free to alter anything they want on the phone. This means allowing wifi tethering to work, its purely a phone setting. There is currently no way the carriers are using to block WiFi at the tower, so it all resides on the phone.

One carrier who has taken big action recently if Verizon, they began terminating unlimited data users who used 500Gb of more. This is a massive amount of mobile data to be using, but considering they had unlimited it’s up for debate. Verizon continues to stomp down their customers by terminating even lower allotments as of late such as 200Gb. Still a substantial amount but much lower and people will flock to other carriers.

The other reason they lock a bootloader is because a custom operating system can mess up the phone. People ruin their phones all the time by messing up an install. This also voids your warranty, manufacturers don’t want to service phones which have been tampered with. So it helps them save money by not chasing down random issues on custom operating systems.

How do you unlock a bootloader?

That question is out of our expertise, how some google searches for terms such as “insert phone name” unlocked bootloader, should point you in the right direction. I don’t recommend doing it unless you really need to and have some general knowledge on the topic. All of this can be found online of course, it just takes some minor reading. Each phone is different and detailed instructions are often times provided by helpful people.


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