When you purchase a smartphone through a carrier, like it or not, there’s a solid chance that carrier has messed with your phone to one extent or another. Maybe it told the manufacturer to remove a key feature, like we used to see several US carriers do in regards to wireless charging, or to disable wireless payments so the carrier can push its own mobile payments solution. Maybe it’s just something as simple as loading the phone with bloatware. But no matter how that meddling manifested, there’s been the expectation that you could always avoid such headaches by purchasing your phone from someone else as an unlocked model, with no particular carrier affiliation. Unfortunately, that no longer appears to be the case, as we learn of T-Mobile’s efforts to convince manufactures to kill-off certain band support.
Motorola’s 4G LTE Moto E used to support LTE band 12. But in a subsequent software update, Motorola disabled band 12 support. Motorola has similarly stopped advertising band 12 support for the new Moto G.
The manufacturer has confirmed that this step was taken at T-Mobile’s request, despite these phones being sold as unlocked, non-carrier editions.
Reportedly, T-Mobile doesn’t want phones without VoLTE capabilities using its band 12, citing risks where users may be unable to complete voice calls, despite their handsets indicating strong reception. Rather than allow users of these non-VoLTE handsets to enjoy band 12 data connectivity (even without voice support), T-Mobile is convincing phone-makers to remove their support entirely.
T-Mobile has yet to issue a statement on the situation, but it seems clear from what’s already transpired that carriers are able to wield significant influence over the capabilities of even unlocked phones – more than we ever thought.