Lawmakers Propose Bill to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking
March 8, 2013 10:53 AM
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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
"It's Time to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking"
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."
All Things D
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Perhaps i am missing something
3/8/2013 12:38:48 PM
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
3/8/2013 12:55:36 PM
the problem is it's still locked if you buy it outright (without a contract)
RE: Perhaps i am missing something
3/8/2013 2:03:27 PM
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.
"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
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