AT&T on Sunday will start allowing non-contract iPhone users to unlock their devices for use on other GSM networks, which will help facilitate the use of an Apple smartphone while traveling abroad.
The news was first reported by Engadget, and an AT&T spokesman confirmed this afternoon.
At this point, AT&T customers can unlock any device except the iPhone, but starting this weekend, customers with accounts in good standing who are not under contract can request an iPhone carrier unlock. Users can then pop in a supported micro-SIM card and tap into another carrier's network.
The move could help reduce costs for those who want to use their iPhone while traveling abroad. Rather than incurring exorbitant roaming fees from AT&T, you can pop in a SIM card from a local provider and go about your business.
The device will also work on T-Mobile's network in the U.S., as well as smaller regional carriers that use GSM. At this point it would run at 2G speeds on T-Mobile's network, although T-Mobile is working to align its frequencies with AT&T's, which would allow iPhones to run on 3G with T-Mobile in the future.
As The Next Web noted, "this should be a great way for customers with older phones to both increase resale value for those devices and to improve their flexibility when choosing a future carrier."