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Genachowski to investigate smartphone unlock ban

Smartphone fans around the country have been in an uproar ever since a ban was placed on a user's ability to unlock their own mobile phone on January 26. Apparently, the ban didn't put limits on carriers being able to unlock their devices, but individuals cracking their phone to operate on other networks was forbidden.

The FCC has now promised to investigate whether the ban is harmful to market competitiveness. The FCC also plans to see if the executive branch has the authority to change the law.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told TechCrunch, "[The] ban raises competition concerns; it raises innovation concerns."

Prior to the ban going into effect, customers were allowed to unlock their smartphones, allowing users to switch carriers and keep the device they had already purchased. Smartphones were exempted from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which has a provision placing a ban on the circumvention of copy protection schemes.
 
Now, smartphone owners who use unauthorized methods to unlock their devices open themselves up to potential legal penalty.

Genachowski said, "It’s something that we will look at at the FCC to see if we can and should enable consumers to use unlocked phones."

Source: TechCrunch



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Smart phones, dumb politicians
By dbeers on 3/1/2013 10:38:18 AM , Rating: 2
The biggest problem is you've got a body of politicians that are enacting laws on subjects they don't understand. Whether it's cell phones, computers, software, healthcare, or guns, most just don't understand the current technology or live in the real world like the rest of us.

If cell phone companies are allowed to lock down a phone during the contract period, they should be required BY LAW to unlock it at the end of that contract period, once the contract is done and the phone is paid off. Not doing this is essentially digital slavery.




RE: Smart phones, dumb politicians
By fleshconsumed on 3/1/2013 11:52:02 AM , Rating: 5
No, they should unlock it at any time during the contract, or better yet not lock it in the first place. Reason being is even if the customer terminates the contract he will pay hefty ETF fee that will make up for the phone subsidy. Either way the customer pays full price for his phone, whether by staying on the contract for 2 years, or by paying ETF, so there shouldn't even be a "locking" debate, the device should be unlocked to begin with.


By Jeffk464 on 3/1/2013 1:37:26 PM , Rating: 3
Like you said CONTRACT, the cell phone companies are already protected by your 2 year contract. They really have no reason to justify locking down the phone that you physically own.


RE: Smart phones, dumb politicians
By drycrust3 on 3/1/2013 4:06:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
No, they should unlock it at any time during the contract, or better yet not lock it in the first place.

The problem with your argument is that when a person gets a "free" phone as part of a contracted period of time, during the contracted time the phone isn't the customer's, it is the phone company's phone.
One understandable consequence of letting someone walk out of the phone company office with a (arguably) valuable phone is the risk to the phone company of the customer not abiding by the terms of the contract e.g. they don't pay their monthly account on time. One of the few methods the phone company has of encouraging customers to actually pay is the phone company's ability to stop phones being used. For a customer to want to use a contracted phone on another network, that would mean the owning network would want the ability to request the "another network" to restrict services to that phone in the event of a customer not continuing paying for their phone. Even if this was legal, it would mean the customer would be paying two monthly accounts instead of just one.


By Solandri on 3/2/2013 4:05:08 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
The problem with your argument is that when a person gets a "free" phone as part of a contracted period of time, during the contracted time the phone isn't the customer's, it is the phone company's phone.

When you buy a car with a "no money down" loan, the bank giving you the loan doesn't require you to use only their approved service and gas stations.

quote:
One understandable consequence of letting someone walk out of the phone company office with a (arguably) valuable phone is the risk to the phone company of the customer not abiding by the terms of the contract e.g. they don't pay their monthly account on time.

Banks and companies that make auto loans and home mortgages face the same problem. But they've found lots of ways to deal with it without requiring the car or home buyer to buy services only from their pre-approved list.

The carriers are trying to have their cake and eat it too. They want to pretend they're selling you a phone so you bear the end of life costs when the phone is obsolete. But they simultaneously want to treat it as if they're leasing it to you by controlling what you do with it once your contract is up.

They can't have it both ways. If they want to make it a leased phone and keep it locked to themselves after your contract is up, I have no problem with it. But they should be required to market it as a lease so the price people are willing to pay is lower than if it's a purchase.


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