As part of a lawsuit settlement, Sprint has agreed to begin providing unlock codes for their phones.
Sprint uses the Master Subsidy Lock (MSL) as a means of locking phones from use on foreign carriers. This may have violated consumer protection laws in multiple states, including California. Sprint has decided to end this practice.
However, that does not mean that Sprint phones will immediately begin working on other networks, such as Verizon Wireless and Alltel. Having the MSL allows the phone to be re-programmed to be used on another carrier. However, Sprint phones have highly customized firmware… making it not possible to easily use data services and even make calls on other carriers.
In addition, the Sprint roaming files make it difficult for a Sprint phone, without specific modifications using a PC or terminal, to even see another tower.
While this may appear to be Sprint bucking a trend of phone unlocks, one thing is clear: Sprint phones will not magically start working on Verizon Wireless, Alltel or other carriers. Most carriers now validate the ESN/MEID of the phone to ensure it is not from another carrier, in addition to all the problems stated above.
Sprint has said that previous customers will be able to obtain their MSLs by contacting customer service. Sprint did not respond to further requests for comment as of this report. It is not clear when Sprint will begin offering the codes, settlements in pending class-action law suits must first be approved.