Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on T Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on Twitter, Angel List, LinkedIn.
Over the weekend, AT&T began unlocking devices for customers that have completed their contracts, as we reported, but they are now unlocking the Apple phone for a very special type of customer: the US military.
The operator is reportedly now offering the option to those in the armed forces, according to Macrumors, to allow iPhones under-contract to be used with other SIM cards overseas. Unlocking the devices lets those stationed abroad use local service providers, meaning that they are not subjected to steep charges when making calls or using the Internet on the device when abroad.
Members of the forces that are deployed abroad are already entitle to pause their existing service with an operator while they are overseas, without charge, thanks to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, however AT&T’s move is not driven by any legal necessity.
Macrumors says that it has “independently confirmed” that servicemembers who request the unlock are being given it. AT&T is yet to confirm the policy but we’ve reached out the operator for further clarification.
Days of military personnel lining up may be over in this smartphone-era and it will be interesting to see if T-Mobile will follow this lead in the US.
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