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AT&T turns screws on iPhone unlocker

Scary late night caller

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UniquePhones has pulled its iPhone unlocking service after receiving calls from lawyers claiming to represent AT&T and threatening to sue the Belfast-based firm for copyright infringement and illegal software dissemination.

The call apparently came in the middle of the night, UK time, within hours of the intended launch of the unlocking service. The company says it's trying to discover how serious the threat is.

Given the plethora of methods for iPhone unlocking, including soldering solutions, software solutions and even cork-and-pin solutions, it seems perverse for AT&T to go after one company in Belfast. Then again UniquePhones is planning to sell the unlocking service, rather than giving away instructions as most people are.

This could make such unlocking considerably more common, as anyone will be able to get an iPhone just by paying money to UniquePhones rather than following arcane instructions from hackers web sites.

Unlocking the phone makes the handset usable on other GSM networks, though some of the most desirable functionality, such as Visual Voicemail won't work without network support. It's also not clear if Apple will be able, or willing, to reverse the unlocking next time you sync to iTunes or download a security fix.

iPhone users are required to use at least 60 per cent of their bundled minutes on the AT&T network. Some people in Vermont have, apparently, been cut off as AT&T have no coverage there and therefore all the calls are handled on a roamed-to network, costing AT&T money.

But anyone unlocking their handset would appear to be making no calls at all, and as AT&T isn't subsidising the handset it's hard to understand why they care so much. Apple, on the other hand, is demanding 10 per cent of revenue from European operators in exchange an exclusive deal on the handset, something they must be very interested in protecting.®

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