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This current legislation now pushes the Library of Congress to consider whether other wireless devices -- like tablets --should be eligible for unlocking

Wireless customers will finally be able to unlock their mobile phones and use them on their carrier of choice, according to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy

U.S. President Barack Obama will reportedly sign a bill that once again allows consumers to switch their phones to any carrier they please via cell phone unlocking. The Senate passed the bill the week of July 14 and House of Representatives passed it unanimously on July 25. Now, Obama is expected to sign the bill into law immediately.

"Administration called for allowing Americans to use their phones or mobile devices on any network they choose," wrote Obama on the We the People petition site. "We laid out steps the FCC, industry, and Congress should take to ensure copyright law does not undermine wireless competition, and worked with wireless carriers to reach a voluntary agreement that helps restore this basic consumer freedom. The bill Congress passed today is another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, so that they can find a cell phone carrier that meets their needs and their budget."

Back in October 2012, the Library of Congress ruled that cell phone unlocking without your wireless carrier's permission was illegal. 

Mobile users were upset with the ruling, and a petition on the White House's We the People page aimed to give people their right to switch back. 


In March 2013, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it would begin investigating the ban placed on cell phone unlocking. 

Later that year, it was reported that the FCC was working with major U.S. carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile) on new rules regarding cell phone unlocking. For instance, one rule was that carriers had to notify customers about their cell phone unlocking eligibility (via text or otherwise) and also require the carrier to process or deny unlocking requests within two business days. 

These rules were being put in place because consumers have to depend on carriers to unlock their phones, and this isn't always easy. Sometimes carriers refuse to do so because they want to lock customers into their service contracts in exchange for heavy subsidized prices on new devices. This is particularly inconvenient for consumers traveling abroad who don't want huge roaming charges, or if they simply want to change carriers.  

Shortly before these rules were in the works, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler sent a letter to Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA Wireless Association -- a trade group that represents cellular carriers -- saying that wireless carriers need to unlock consumer's cell phones once they've fulfilled contract obligations, or the FCC will be forced to regulate.  

This current legislation now pushes the Library of Congress to consider whether other wireless devices -- like tablets --should be eligible for unlocking.  

Source: Patrick Leahy





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