Carriers and FCC agree to deal that allows users to unlock cell phones


A deal has finally been reached between wireless carriers and the FCC that allows users to unlock their devices after their contract with the carrier has been completed. The deal is expected to go into effect within the next 12 months, and will include all five major carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon). Below are the guidelines to the deal as outlined by the CTIA.

  • Disclosure: Each carrier will post on its website its clear, concise, and readily accessible policy on postpaid and prepaid mobile wireless device unlocking.
  • Postpaid Unlocking Policy: Carriers, upon request, will unlock mobile wireless devices or provide the necessary information to unlock their devices for their customers and former customers in good standing and individual owners of eligible devices after the fulfillment of the applicable postpaid service contract, device financing plan or payment of an applicable early termination fee.
  • Prepaid Unlocking Policy: Carriers, upon request, will unlock prepaid mobile wireless devices no later than one year after initial activation, consistent with reasonable time, payment or usage requirements.
  • Notice: Carriers that lock devices will clearly notify customers that their devices are eligible for unlocking at the time when their devices are eligible for unlocking or automatically unlock devices remotely when devices are eligible for unlocking, without additional fee. Carriers reserve the right to charge non-customers/non-former customers a reasonable fee for unlocking requests. Notice to prepaid customers may occur at point of sale, at the time of eligibility, or through a clear and concise statement of the policy on the carrier’s website.
  • Response Time: Within two business days after receiving a request, carriers will unlock eligible mobile wireless devices or initiate a request to the OEM to unlock the eligible device, or provide an explanation of why the device does not qualify for unlocking, or why the carrier reasonably needs additional time to process the request.
  • Deployed Personnel Unlocking Policy: Carriers will unlock mobile wireless devices for deployed military personnel who are customers in good standing upon provision of deployment papers.
  • Carriers reserve the right to decline an unlock request if they have a reasonable basis to believe the request is fraudulent or the device is stolen.

This is big news for the push from consumers to have full access to our devices, especially once the contracts have been completed with carriers. I’ve never seen why carriers wouldn’t unlock devices after the contract, and it is good to see that there is finally going to be an industry standard going forward. What do you think about this new deal? Do you like it or not? Drop your thoughts in the comments below, or tweet me at @TiP_Griffin.

Source: 9to5Mac

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  • healeydave

    I can’t believe this is not already in place in the USA!?