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The bill follows a promising response from the White House to a petition for cell phone unlocking

Well, that was fast: a bill to once again make it legal for consumers to unlock their cell phones was introduced yesterday, after the White House sided with a petition just earlier this week.

Democrats and Republicans alike have backed the new measure. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have joined Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) in pushing the Wireless Consumer Choice Act, which would make sure users have the option to unlock their cell phones and switch carriers if they please.

“Consumers who have purchased a mobile device, and aren’t bound by a service contract, should be able to use it on another network,” said Blumenthal. “This legislation is common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring healthy competition in the market.”


Earlier this week, the White House addressed a petition called "It's Time to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking" on its We the People site. The petition collected 114,000+ signatures, and received a promising answer from the White House.

"The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties," said the official White House response.

"In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones. And if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren't bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network. It's common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers' needs."

Source: All Things D



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Occasionally...
By rudolphna on 3/8/2013 12:02:25 PM , Rating: 2
The government does smart things. Occasionally. This will probably be the last time for a few years. Still, it's a positive move to help break the strangleholder cell providers have on their customers




RE: Occasionally...
By abraxas1 on 3/8/2013 12:09:28 PM , Rating: 5
I wouldn't be surprised if someone tried to piggyback something completely unrelated and ruin the original intent of the legislation.


RE: Occasionally...
By wookie1 on 3/9/2013 4:47:45 PM , Rating: 3
The government does smart things to help themselves. The only reason cell providers had a "stranglehold" in the first place was laws the government put in place to help the providers have that stranglehold. Now everyone is all happy when one small provision of the law is held back, rather than just scrapping the whole law. I don't like having some big, intrusive law, modified by smaller laws to carve out special exceptions. Get rid of the big intrusive law! Why does the unelected librarian of congress have so much power to decide if we can unlock a cell phone in the first place?!


Perhaps i am missing something
By Ammohunt on 3/8/2013 12:38:48 PM , Rating: 2
But you are free to buy an iPhone or a Nexus 4 and use it on any network that supports the device already. Not sure what this legislation is supposed to fix considering phones coming off contract are craptaastically old anyway seem like a fair trade off.




RE: Perhaps i am missing something
By menting on 3/8/2013 12:55:36 PM , Rating: 2
the problem is it's still locked if you buy it outright (without a contract)


By MadMan007 on 3/8/2013 2:03:27 PM , Rating: 2
Sort of, and that's where it gets technical. A phone can be supposedly 'unlocked' but in reality 'locked' because of radio type (CDMA vs GSM, which is at least only an issue in the US) or frequencies (lots of 'unlocked' GSM phones will only work with AT&T 3G but not T-Mobile because they lack the necessary radio frequencies.) Then there's LTE which adds a whole other level of cross-carrier compatibility, both for hardware and carrier lock-down reasons.

There is some progress being made with radios at least, the most recent trend for upcoming radios is integration of more frequency bands. It's cheaper for the chip manufacturer to make one radio for everyone, and cheaper for device manufacturers as well. The carriers might not like it though, and with LTE they have a lot more control.


This is wrong
By Solandri on 3/8/2013 2:30:23 PM , Rating: 1
We don't need a law making it legal to unlock a phone you've bought and fully paid for (out of contract so no subsidy).

We need a law which makes it illegal for sellers to artificially limit what you can do with things you've bought and fully paid for.

The former implies that there's nothing wrong with what the carriers wanted, and an exception needs to be made for when they shouldn't happen as they want. The latter says plain and simple that it should never happen.




RE: This is wrong
By wookie1 on 3/8/2013 3:27:37 PM , Rating: 3
The only reason that sellers can artificially limit what you do with a fully paid for device is the DMCA. Just ditch that loser of a law, no need to make a byzantine set of new laws!


By DryHumor on 3/8/2013 12:53:25 PM , Rating: 2
Last I heard my Droid-X (v2.3.3) can't be unlocked. And I doubt Verizon will bother releasing an unlocker for it.




!!!
By EmilyGrands22 on 3/9/2013 8:19:57 PM , Rating: 1
until I saw the bank draft which said $9312, I did not believe that...my... friends brother was like actually taking home money part time from there labtop.. there aunt has been doing this 4 only thirteen months and by now repaid the loans on there house and bourt a gorgeous volvo. I went here, Great60.c o mTAKE A LOOK




As usual Dailtech article makes no sense
By littleprince on 3/8/13, Rating: -1
RE: As usual Dailtech article makes no sense
By Stiggalicious on 3/8/2013 1:55:42 PM , Rating: 2
You are completely wrong on all fronts with your statement.

Carriers are not required to unlock phones for any reason they wish, even if the consumer has fully paid for it and their contract has already ended.

The bill states that as long as the consumer is not contractually bound, they should be able to get their phones unlocked. This does not make it so that the consumer can buy the phone with the plan and immediately unlock it since they are contractually bound to keep it on the network unless the contract is terminated.


By MadMan007 on 3/8/2013 2:52:41 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, in a way it's too bad though because it used to be 90 days I believe before the carriers would allow unlocking, but I think it was still up to them. I am sure one reason the bill proposes the customer still be under contract or 'other obligation' is to prevent credit mules from buying phones on contract and selling unlocked phones right away. It's kind of too bad that language is in there, but it's understandable and most people should be ok with it...ideally there would be an option to unlock if you break your contract and pay an ETF, maybe that's ok under this law since you'd then no longer be under contract.


This doesn't make sense
By Spookster on 3/8/13, Rating: -1
RE: This doesn't make sense
By menting on 3/8/2013 12:56:43 PM , Rating: 2
that's why the ETF is there.
If they have an ETF, they do not have a valid reason for locking phones


RE: This doesn't make sense
By Spookster on 3/8/2013 1:52:20 PM , Rating: 2
Ok maybe that's the part i'm missing. So even if you leave and pay the ETF which covers the remaining cost of the phone the phone is still locked to them so you can't use it with your new service provider? So if this legislation then forces them to allow you to unlock the phone so you can use it with the new provider then that only seems fair.


RE: This doesn't make sense
By Rukkian on 3/8/2013 2:05:54 PM , Rating: 4
You are correct. The reason this is even an issue, is that somebody at the FCC got paid off by the wireless duopolies in the US to make it illegal to ever unlock your phone without express permission from the original provider. This made it so that even if you did you full contract (or paid the etf), if the provider said no, you could not legally unlock your phone.

This pissed off quite a few people that then started the petition.


RE: This doesn't make sense
By wookie1 on 3/8/2013 3:25:42 PM , Rating: 2
Incorrect, the library of congress is responsible for this one(!). Somehow, they are in charge of allowing exceptions to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and they elected not to exclude cellphones anymore.

I think that this is just a band-aid. A better solution would be to repeal the DMCA. That won't happen due to MPAA and RIAA lobbying and substantial donations to lawmakers and the president.


RE: This doesn't make sense
By dijuremo on 3/8/2013 12:58:43 PM , Rating: 2
I think you just forgot about the "early termination fees", they have covered themselves with those if you decide to jump ship.


RE: This doesn't make sense
By Uncle on 3/8/2013 1:29:12 PM , Rating: 2
Phones are cheap. The companys get exclusive rights to sell the phones at an arbitrary figure that is high enough to force you to get a subsidized phone by signing a long term contract. If everyone could pay the $600 phone outright the companies will jack up the price until the consumer can't pay. As a business model it works in two ways. One, they get you to sign a long term contract with a ETF and they know they will make so much profit for the next two yrs or three if you live in Canada. Keeps you from switching if they give you shitty service. I've never signed a contract and I've never had the horror stories that I hear from the people on contracts. Any complaints on my bill are dealt with instantly because they know I will switch and I have done so in the past. I have two windows phones sitting here that make great mp3 players, quality of sound is decent. I would rather the industry get out of the sales of phones completely. I should be able to buy any phone at any Phone store, where the stores might compete on prices. As it is now the three majors in my area sell the phones at the same price, charge the same unlocking fee with or without a contract, have the same ETF's etc, competition at its best.


RE: This doesn't make sense
By MadMan007 on 3/8/2013 2:08:20 PM , Rating: 2
What's missing is the option to BYOD but also sign a contract at a reduced price because you don't get a hardware subsidy. I have a Nexus 4 and would have considered doing that but it simply doesn't exist so I had to go prepaid instead.

So AT&T gets $50 a month from me for 250 voice/unlimited text/1 GB data but I can leave whenever I want. I would have signed a contract for $50 with maybe 3GB of data - basically their average contract plan - but they want the same price as if I got a subsidy. Their loss, and they will lose me altogether for at least a few months when my built-up prepaid credit is used and I try out T-Mo - that wouldn't have happened with a reduced price contract.


RE: This doesn't make sense
By Schadenfroh on 3/8/2013 6:52:08 PM , Rating: 2
Why the service providers "sell" subsidized phones is beyond me, just setup a lease agreement for the phone instead.


RE: This doesn't make sense
By MadMan007 on 3/8/2013 7:46:34 PM , Rating: 2
Carriers don't want a two-year old phone back.


"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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