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It said it agrees with the 114,000+ people who signed the petition

The White House has responded to a petition that asks for cell phone unlocking to be legalized, and the Obama administration seems to think it's a good idea.

A petition on We the People called "It's Time to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking" collected over 114,000 signatures. When any petition on this site accumulates over 100,000 signatures, the White House is expected to respond to it -- and as promised, it has done so.

"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."

The Obama administration further added that it would support various corrections to the situation, including new legislative rules in telecommunications stating that technological locks and/or criminal law can stop consumers from switching carriers when they're not bound by a contract.

The White House response added that the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will join the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in looking into the matter of cell phone unlocking.

The FCC said it would investigate the ban on cell phone unlocking last week. More specifically, it plans to investigate whether the ban is harmful to market competitiveness and whether the executive branch has the authority to change the law.

The White House made mention that mobile providers should "consider what steps they as businesses can take to ensure that their customers can fully reap the benefits and features they expect when purchasing their devices."

Source: The White House

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By Solandri on 3/5/2013 5:43:44 AM , Rating: 5
OK, we all get that a 2 year contract gets you a phone on the cheap, in return you are obligated to stay for 2 years... But how in any way should it not be your phone to do whatever you want with after that?

Unlocking phones is actually only half the issue. The converse is also true. Once your 2 year contract is up, you've paid whatever subsidy the carrier gave you when you first got the phone. So your monthly service charge should decrease.

T-mobile is the only major carrier who'll do that (their plans for unsubsidized or out-of-contract smartphones are $20/mo cheaper). Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint go right on charging you the higher subsidized monthly service fee even though you've already paid off the subsidy.

So not only are they refusing to give you the phone you've bought and fully paid for, they're continuing to charge you for it every month as if you haven't paid it off yet.

By Mint on 3/5/2013 8:37:18 AM , Rating: 4
And I give massive props to T-Mobile for doing that. Legalized unlocking will hopefully make more people switch to them (or various MVNOs) after the contract is up.

I really hope they don't reverse course in a panic move from their recent reduced profits. It already sucks that T-Mobile's new Value Plan has the equipment install plan AND another termination fee.

What I would love to see on the front page of all cell phone contracts is the total contractual obligation in big numbers. Then people will understand that they're not buying a $200 phone from Verizon, they're buying a $3000 phone+plan with a $300 termination option.

It should be a simple thing that consumers can compare from one service to another.

By jeepga on 3/5/2013 11:54:15 AM , Rating: 3
I'd switch to T-Mobile in a heartbeat, because of decisions like that if their signal was worth a darn where I'm at.

By Mint on 3/6/2013 12:26:14 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, that's the shortcoming, but at least they don't have data speeds nearly as bad as Sprint.

They do have wireless calling, though, so you basically have reception anywhere there's wifi.

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