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Telephone network access on iPhone unlocked by teen

Friday, August 24, 2007

George Hotz, 17, confirmed on Friday that he has cracked the lock that joins the Apple iPhone to AT&T‘s wireless network and was using it on T-Mobile‘s network—the only other major U.S. carrier compatible with iPhone technology. This crack opens up the phone, which is only being sold in the U.S., to use on overseas networks. “That’s the big thing,” said Hotz.

Hotz posted the complicated hack, which requires skill with both soldering and software and takes about two hours to perform, to his blog Thursday. He collaborated over the Internet with four other people, including two Russians, to develop the unlocking process that leaves all iPhone functions intact, with the exception of the “visual voicemail” feature.

With the hack available to the public, there is the possibility that some will buy U.S. iPhones, unlock them and send them overseas for profit. “That’s exactly […] what I don’t want,” Hotz said. “I don’t want people making money off this.”

Hotz said he wished he could have made the instructions so that users could modify the phones themselves. “But that’s the simplest I could make them.”

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said the company has “no comment” and referred questions to Apple.

A second phone, which was also hacked by Hotz, was placed for sale on eBay. He states at the auction site “Soon, you will be able to buy unlocked iPhones everywhere, in fact probably before this auction ends. But this is the one that started it all. The one unlocked while the steps were posted live on the blog. This isn’t just an unlocked iPhone, this is a piece of history.” Starting at $540, bids reached $99,999,999, although many bids were canceled as fraudulent. Before their removal, Hotz commented on the excessive bids, stating “I’m sure these most recent bids are fake.” The auction was canceled early by Hotz due to “an error in the listing”.

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