NEW YORK (AP) — Verizon Wireless said Monday that it won't prevent its version of the iPhone 5 from being used on AT&T's network.

The Verizon version of the iPhone 5, which went on sale Friday, came with an unexpected feature: it works on the network of AT&T and many other phone companies, as well as on Verizon's.

It's the first time Verizon, the country's largest cellphone company, has sold a phone that works on competing U.S. networks with no complicated hacking, or "unlocking," procedures.

Last year, the first shipments of the Sprint iPhone 4S were unlocked and worked on AT&T, but Sprint later issued software updates that turned off that capability.

Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Brenda Raney said Monday that Verizon does not plan to relock the iPhone 5.

The feature may mean little initially to most buyers, since they sign up for two years of Verizon service when buying the phone. But it does give them the option to switch carriers when the contract expires, or they can sell the phone to someone who plans to use it on a competing network. They also have the option of breaking the contract, paying an early termination fee, and signing up for cheaper service —the Verizon iPhone 5 even works on prepaid service plans.

Verizon and Sprint do "unlock" other phones on request, but only for use on non-U.S. networks. They do so to let travelers save money by using local SIM cards and accounts when overseas.

Even unlocked, Verizon iPhones are tied to Verizon's network: it's the only one that can provide them with "4G LTE" data speeds. The Verizon iPhone 5 can access AT&T's non-LTE "4G" network, which has slightly lower speeds.

T-Mobile USA, the country's fourth-largest phone company, has a network that's compatible with the Verizon iPhone 5 for voice calls and low-speed data. It's revamping the network in a way that will make it compatible with the iPhone 5 for high-speed data as well, and last week started actively marketing to iPhone 4 owners.

Sprint Nextel said Monday that its iPhone 5s are locked. Customers in good standing for at least three months can ask to have them unlocked for international use only. AT&T unlocks phones once they're out of contract.

Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC of Britain.

Earlier on HuffPost:



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  • The Apple EarPods are shown during a product review in San Francisco, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

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    Technology giant Apple has unveiled a raft of updated products including the latest model of its new iPhone. The iPhone 5, which weighs in at 112 grammes, has a 4in screen - half an inch bigger than previous models, at Kings Place, Central London.

  • Apple unveils new iPhone model

    Technology giant Apple has unveiled a raft of updated products including the latest model of its new iPhone. The iPhone 5, which weighs in at 112 grammes, has a 4in screen - half an inch bigger than previous models, at Kings Place, Central London.

  • Apple unveils new iPhone model

    Technology giant Apple has unveiled a raft of updated products including the latest model of its new iPhone. The iPhone 5, which weighs in at 112 grammes, has a 4in screen - half an inch bigger than previous models, at Kings Place, Central London.

  • Apple unveils new iPhone model

    Technology giant Apple has unveiled a raft of updated products including the latest model of its new iPhone. The iPhone 5, which weighs in at 112 grammes, has a 4in screen - half an inch bigger than previous models, at Kings Place, Central London.

  • Apple unveils new iPhone model

    Technology giant Apple has unveiled a raft of updated products including the latest model of its new iPhone. The iPhone 5, which weighs in at 112 grammes, has a 4in screen - half an inch bigger than previous models, at Kings Place, Central London.

  • Apple unveils new iPhone model

    Technology giant Apple has unveiled a raft of updated products including the latest model of its new iPhone. The iPhone 5, which weighs in at 112 grammes, has a 4in screen - half an inch bigger than previous models, at Kings Place, Central London.

  • Apple unveils new iPhone model

    Technology giant Apple has unveiled a raft of updated products including the latest model of its new iPhone. The iPhone 5, which weighs in at 112 grammes, has a 4in screen - half an inch bigger than previous models, at Kings Place, Central London.

  • Apple unveils new iPhone model

    Technology giant Apple has unveiled a raft of updated products including the latest model of its new iPhone. The iPhone 5, which weighs in at 112 grammes, has a 4in screen - half an inch bigger than previous models, at Kings Place, Central London.

  • The new Apple iPhone 5 is displayed Wednesday Sept. 12, 2012 following the introduction of new products in San Francisco. The iPhone 5 is a blend of beauty, utility and versatility. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

  • Apple unveils new iPhone model

    Technology giant Apple has unveiled a raft of updated products including the latest model of its new iPhone. The iPhone 5, which weighs in at 112 grammes, has a 4in screen - half an inch bigger than previous models, at Kings Place, Central London.

  • Apple unveils new iPhone model

    Technology giant Apple has unveiled a raft of updated products including the latest model of its new iPhone. The iPhone 5, which weighs in at 112 grammes, has a 4in screen - half an inch bigger than previous models, at Kings Place, Central London.

  • Apple unveils new iPhone model

    Technology giant Apple has unveiled a raft of updated products including the latest model of its new iPhone. The iPhone 5, which weighs in at 112 grammes, has a 4in screen - half an inch bigger than previous models, at Kings Place, Central London.

  • Apple unveils new iPhone model

    Technology giant Apple has unveiled a raft of updated products including the latest model of its new iPhone. The iPhone 5, which weighs in at 112 grammes, has a 4in screen - half an inch bigger than previous models, at Kings Place, Central London.

  • Apple unveils new iPhone model

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller announces the new iPhone 5 during an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on September 12, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Apple announced the iPhone 5, the latest version of the popular smart phone. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Apple Introduces iPhone 5

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: The new iPhone 5 is displayed during an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on September 12, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Apple announced the iPhone 5, the latest version of the popular smart phone. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/09/12/apple-iphone-5-liveblog/" target="_hplink">Courtesy of Engadget.</a>

  • <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/09/12/apple-iphone-5-liveblog/" target="_hplink">Courtesy of Engadget.</a>

  • <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/09/12/apple-iphone-5-liveblog/" target="_hplink">Courtesy of Engadget.</a>

  • <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/09/12/apple-iphone-5-liveblog/" target="_hplink">Courtesy of Engadget.</a>

  • Apple Introduces iPhone 5

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller announces the new iPhone 5 during an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on September 12, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Apple announced the iPhone 5, the latest version of the popular smart phone. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Phil Schiller

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  • Phil Schiller

    Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, speaks on stage during an introduction of the new iPhone 5 at an Apple event in San Francisco, Wednesday Sept. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

  • Apple Introduces iPhone 5

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