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It's either that, or the FCC will be forced to regulate

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) official wrote a letter in an effort to make cell phone unlocking an easier task. 

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler sent a letter to Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA Wireless Association, which is a trade group that represents cellular carriers. The letter told wireless carriers to unlock consumer's cell phones once they've fulfilled contract obligations, or the FCC will be forced to regulate. 

Unlocking a cell phone means that it can be used with any carrier, but it became illegal for consumers to do it themselves earlier this year after a ruling by the Librarian of Congress.


This means that consumers have to depend on carriers to unlock their phones, and this isn't always easy. Sometimes carriers refuse to do so, and this is particularly inconvenient for consumers traveling abroad who don't want huge roaming charges. 

But Wheeler made it clear in his letter that the CTIA and associated wireless carriers are to start unlocking cell phones after a consumer's contract has expired. 

Check out the full letter:

Dear Steve,
 
During my first week on the job, I continually emphasized the importance of competition and the FCC's receptiveness to voluntary industry activities to promote competition. For eight months, the FCC staff has been working with CTIA on an amendment to your Consumer Code in which this industry would address consumers' rights to unlock their mobile wireless devices once their contracts are fulfilled.
 
The Commission has indicated that any such policy must contain five parts: (a) provide a clear, concise, and readily accessible policy on unlocking; (b) unlock mobile wireless devices for customers, former customers, and legitimate owners when the applicable service contract, installment plan, or ETF has been fulfilled; (c) affirmatively notify customers when their devices are eligible for unlocking and/or automatically unlock devices when eligible, without an additional fee; (d) process unlocking requests or provide an explanation of denial within two business days; and (e) unlock devices for military personnel upon deployment. It appears that CTIA and the FCC are in agreement on all but the third item regarding consumer notification. Absent the consumer's right to be informed about unlocking eligibility, any voluntary program would be a hollow shell. 

We are anxious to work with you and your members to resolve this matter expeditiously. Enough time has passed, and it is now time for the industry to act voluntarily or for the FCC to regulate. Let's set a goal of including the full unlocking rights policy in the CTIA Consumer Code before the December holiday season. 

We look forward to working with you on this policy as well as continuing to work together after its adoption to monitor its implementation.
 
Sincerely,
 
Tom Wheeler
Chairman 
 
Or if you want to see the actual letter for yourself, check it out here

Source: Federal Communications Commission



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This has always puzzled me...
By retrospooty on 11/15/2013 12:40:40 PM , Rating: 4
You buy a phone, full pay it off and cant take it with you to another carrier after it and the contract are fully paid off WTF? How can they get away with that and why do we need an act of govt to make it legal? I am glad they are trying, but it never should have been this way to begin with.




RE: This has always puzzled me...
By theplaidfad on 11/15/2013 12:45:43 PM , Rating: 1
Because it's capitalism and large companies rule. As far as the consumer supporting these large companies, we're just the Ben Dover's, and they'll do with us as they please.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By Reclaimer77 on 11/15/13, Rating: 0
RE: This has always puzzled me...
By Flunk on 11/15/2013 1:18:44 PM , Rating: 5
As opposed to rightist impotent rage, which you're right on board with.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By Reclaimer77 on 11/15/13, Rating: -1
RE: This has always puzzled me...
By retrospooty on 11/15/2013 2:26:02 PM , Rating: 2
So, you think that you should go buy a phone from your carrier, pay off your phone and fulfill your 2 yr contract and then not be allowed to take your phone to another carrier? You bought the phone, paid it in full and you fulfilled the terms of your contract.

I don't personally give a hoot, because I never have a phone for 2 years and always upgrade early, but the point of this miffs me. Locking phones is something that carriers started to try and rope people in. They used to unlock when requested and then later stopped it.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By Reclaimer77 on 11/15/13, Rating: -1
RE: This has always puzzled me...
By retrospooty on 11/15/2013 7:15:11 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, the govt shouldn't be involved, this just should never have happened. You are right though, T-Mobile does fix it.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By hrrmph on 11/15/2013 8:37:59 PM , Rating: 2
In dozens upon dozens of other sovereign nations, it is illegal to lock phones... period.

And so it should be in the USA.

A telecom can sell you a phone on contract and you are then legally obligated to make good on paying that contract. But, the telecom isn't permitted to lock the phone and force you to buy only their product. You can use your phone to buy the telecom's product (signal) or you can switch your SIM chips in and out of the phone at will to buy other carriers products (other signals).

You effectively can switch back and back and forth between carriers at will. Your carrier loses signal? Switch SIM chips and use a carrier who is providing good signal in the area that you happen to be in at the time.

At least that is the way it is in most of the world.

This situation we have of people buying locked phones is a drag on the economy and violates the principles of free and open commerce between states.

The best top-end phones have dual-SIM slots to reduce the amount of physical swapping of SIM chips that you have to do. But, you never see them in the USA.

Why? Because the telecom's lobbyists got the laws and regulations locked up while "we the sheeple" were sleeping.

It's time to wake the flock up and insist that we are able to buy phones that are just as good as (and just as unlocked as) phones in China, Russia, the Middle East, India, Africa and pretty much everywhere else in the world.

Why should we be denied the ability to buy and use the 'best-of-the best' premium unlocked products and use whatever carrier that we please whenever we please?

For what it's worth, I've never bought a locked phone or tablet. I always pay full price. And if I have to, I buy them overseas.

Blackberry, Samsung, and Sony all sell phones that are distributed direct from the factory to retailers, having never been mucked up by a telecom carrier. These phones are fully unlocked, have Micro-SDXC internal storage card slots, tool-less removable back covers, and user replaceable batteries. Samsung even sells their very best flagship products in versions that have Dual-SIM slots.

And our phone manufacturers wonder why they are losing market share? Their designs are crippled due to their deference to the 'locked up phone' dogma espoused by the telecom Mafioso.

By selling locked phones through the telecoms, the phone manufacturers are essentially forcing you to 'kick up' to the telecoms every month, by paying an expensive 'sweetener' for the basic privilege of owning a phone. And once bamboozled into locked, you have no choice in the matter.

It's time for some 'law enforcement.' The first step is to get Congress and the FCC to actually write some laws and regulations that make sense.

Those laws and regulations should give USA consumers the same rights that citizens and visitors in other countries have to purchase unlocked phones in an open and free market, unhindered by telecom schemes that work to enslave the consumer to a single product.

The second step is to fine any company that sells a locked phone… period.

Once that happens, consumers will then - by their free market choices - eventually eliminate the phones and carriers that don’t provide interoperability between networks... Just like consumers do in almost every other market in the world.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By sulu1977 on 11/16/2013 12:16:17 AM , Rating: 2
You are correct, the government should stay out of these matters. If the carrier refuses to unlock your phone that you paid for, you should have the right to blow the head off the store manager with a shotgun. Who needs the government when self-regulation is so effective. Right?


By Reclaimer77 on 11/16/2013 7:16:16 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
you should have the right to blow the head off the store manager with a shotgun. Who needs the government when self-regulation is so effective. Right?


Yeah locked phones are totally a life or death issue that should be inspiring violence like this. First world problems, anyone?

I can't believe I'm getting downvoted while insanity like this is being peddled.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By Flunk on 11/15/2013 3:07:04 PM , Rating: 1
I'm just doing what you do for comedic effect.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By russki on 11/15/2013 1:36:02 PM , Rating: 2
Lets see in europe you can get cell phone service for dirt cheap, but in the usa you have to pay for subsidies and a bunch of other nonsense. I should be able to do with my phone as I please especially since I've paid for it in full.
It does, however, come down on the consumer to tolerate or refuse this kind of crap from the corporations. Next time around I'm just buying my own phone, they can suck it.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By Nutzo on 11/15/2013 2:17:18 PM , Rating: 2
So instead of complaining, buy an unsubsidized, unlocked phone Like the Nexus 4 or 5) and use it on a service like t-mobile. Only $90 for 3 people on a family plan.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By bupkus on 11/15/2013 3:28:13 PM , Rating: 2
Got that, except I won't buy a smartphone--too much money and most info I need I acquire before I leave the house on my home equipment. Those with smartys can leave their home or office sooner and then use their phones while driving.


By Reclaimer77 on 11/15/2013 4:13:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Text So instead of complaining, buy an unsubsidized,


Nah its easier to sit at home and blame corporate boogeymen for the worlds problems.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By Reclaimer77 on 11/16/2013 7:27:19 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
but in the usa you have to pay for subsidies and a bunch of other nonsense.


No you don't. You DO NOT "have to".


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By Piiman on 11/16/2013 11:30:53 AM , Rating: 2
No you only have to pay 4 or 5 hundred $$ more for it. I find it odd you think Verizon, for example, has some right to keep MY phone locked to their network after I've fulfilled my obligation to them.


By Reclaimer77 on 11/16/2013 5:08:01 PM , Rating: 2
I think you have the right to NOT agree to Verizons terms. But you did.

I'm not defending the practice, don't misunderstand. I just don't want the government getting involved. We have better options, but people are choosing to maintain the status quo.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By Jeffk464 on 11/15/2013 2:32:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
As far as the consumer supporting these large companies, we're just the Ben Dover's


Not me, I'm ditching verizon and going for tmobile who is pulling out the stops to get new customers.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By Spuke on 11/15/2013 4:40:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Not me, I'm ditching verizon and going for tmobile who is pulling out the stops to get new customers.
I'd still be on tmobile if their coverage hadn't sucked ass (and then went down from there) in my area.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By Uncle on 11/16/2013 2:44:28 AM , Rating: 2
Its time the Auto Companies do the same. When you buy a new vehicle, you have to buy gas from a certain gas company, until the vehicle is paid for. Then you can go to any gas company to buy your fuel.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By Reclaimer77 on 11/16/2013 7:31:06 AM , Rating: 2
Actually they do something similar to that with leases.

Last time I leased a vehicle I had to agree to do all my maintenance at their dealership, or my warranty was subject to being nullified.

But I still signed my name on the line and agreed. Just like tens of millions of smartphone owners sign and agree to carrier terms.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By Piiman on 11/16/2013 11:24:10 AM , Rating: 2
What part of that phone contract says that once you've completed the terms the phone can only work on their network? At that point it's MY phone and they have no right to lock it to THEIR network.
You sound like a Carrier executive whining that you can't keep us in slaved to your company.


By Reclaimer77 on 11/16/2013 8:15:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You sound like a Carrier executive whining that you can't keep us in slaved to your company.


Again, I am NOT defending the practice. Get this through your head.

I simply don't feel it's something the Government should address. Especially when there are free market solutions!

Grow up, understand context, or stfu.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By Argon18 on 11/19/2013 3:32:14 PM , Rating: 2
It's nothing to do with capitalism and large companies. The problem is pure consumer ignorance and apathy. One of the great features of Capitalism is the power of the consumer; you are empowered to "vote" with your dollars.

Unlocked phones are available right now today. Look on Amazon, NewEgg, etc. If enough people made this issue a priority for them when selecting a new phone, and bought an unlocked one instead of buying the locked one directly from the carrier, we wouldn't even be having this discussion. I own an unlocked Galaxy S4, I bought it online myself, and then bought Tmobile service separately.

The problem is your average consumer is too ignorant and too lazy to care or do anything about this issue.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By JoeOnRoute66 on 11/15/2013 12:45:50 PM , Rating: 2
"Buying" a phone to use on Verizon's network is pretty much worthless due to CDMA technology. An unlocked GSM phone provides the consumer with many more options. I am leaving Verizon Wireless next month after fulfilling my two-year contract with a Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone. I have a Nexus 5 and moving to Straight Talk.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By retrospooty on 11/15/2013 12:51:29 PM , Rating: 3
Not really... There are still Sprint and a few smaller ones like Cricket that it should work on. And of course this is a much larger issue for GSM with many more options...

Agreed about Verizon though. If I were not on a company paid account I would dump them too. I would be on T-mobile with a Nexus 5.


RE: This has always puzzled me...
By Spuke on 11/15/2013 4:41:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I would be on T-mobile with a Nexus 5.
This.


Up front pay for phones should be unlocked
By Harry Wild on 11/15/2013 2:06:12 PM , Rating: 2
If you want a phone that is exclusive to a carrier and you pay for it upfront and it is yours free and clear; you should be able to do as you like with this phone. Many carriers still insist upon a time period usually 120 days to 180 days of some sort of usage or grace period before they will give you an unlock code. Not good for the customer who has already paid up front and now has to either use it and/or wait it out after the time period to get the unlocking code.

Talking about taking a person hostage; it the carriers doing a fine job of it!




By Solandri on 11/16/2013 3:48:14 AM , Rating: 2
It seems pretty simple to me. If they insist on locking the phone, they never sold it to you. It's still theirs, you're just renting it. There should be no ETF. If it breaks (user abuse excepted), they're financially responsible for fixing it. If they want a 2-3 year contract, this means a 2-3 year warranty.

If they want to avoid all this and say you bought the phone, then the phone is yours. They have no right to prohibit you from using the phone elsewhere. It'd be like selling you a car, then refusing to unlock the garage to let you take the car where you want.


Big Business owns the government
By ptmmac on 11/15/2013 7:05:21 PM , Rating: 2
The problem here is there is not a level playing field between big business and individuals. I would love to have a cheaper plan. I can't get any decent reception from the cheaper companies because the technological process was hijacked long ago by telecoms.

All cell plans are on a take it or leave it plan for the best network connections. Just like cable is not an ala carte plan but a take it or leave it full range service or bare bones. The reason the FCC exists is large companies have always used and abused their customers. Free enterprise is a fantasy where everyone comes to the competition with nothing more than the fruits of their labor and wits. That world never existed except where it was used by large purchasers to keep costs down for the commodities they were purchasing.

The FCC is not really changing a rule here. They are only grandstanding and asking nicely for the corporations to please be good children and play nice with the peons. You should be outraged by this behavior. If any small businessman did this his customers would leave him in droves.

ATT is a perfect example. Try to get through to customer service in less than one hour. I dare you. You will lose at least 3 hours to get any real change done to your service. You will have to talk to 2 or 3 different departments and if you get a credit on your cable bill it won't apply to the other 2 parts of your bill. You will still owe for the "unpaid" telecom balance. Worse you will get a $105 fee added to your bill if you are late because you are actually late for 3 bills! Yes sir this is free enterprise.




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