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If so, how could mobile carriers like AT&T lock the phone to work only with their SIM?

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I think these two questions should be separated. – Flimm Jan 3 '13 at 14:26
up vote 3 down vote accepted

At the time of writing, there's no clear statement on to what extent it will be open source. It will be built using and based on a lot of open source components, yes, e.g. OpenGL, Linux kernel, QML, etc.

It may consists of some closed source parts for various reasons: firmware for hardware support, a way to improve security (not discussing if that would be a good idea here), etc.

If [Ubuntu OS would be entirely open source], how could mobile carriers like AT&T lock the phone to work only with their SIM?

Open source software and a SIM-lock aren't really related here.

The radio part of a phone is a completely independent piece of hardware. The SIM-lock is usually in there, rather than a check in software. It can be controlled (locked/unlocked) however with hardware-specific calls to this. Android is no different in this, as the kernel-level here is also Linux (GPL).

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Please update, if things change... – Naveen Jan 3 '13 at 14:56
@Naveen Anyone can update/edit answers/questions here. – gertvdijk Jan 3 '13 at 14:57

According to this interview with project manager Richard Collins (around 5:10 in), it will be the exact same model as Ubuntu is on the desktop, with a proper upstream and the ability for people to participate and open source:

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