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The FCC and U.S. wireless carriers are still working on a few details

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is working with U.S. carriers to complete new rules for unlocking cell phones, and it looks like an agreement is on the horizon.

According to Reuters, the new agreement is expected make sure that carriers notify customers about their cell phone unlocking eligibility (via text or otherwise) and also require them to process or deny unlocking requests within two business days.

Some prepaid phones could also be included in these new rules.  

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 because they want to lock customers into their service contracts in exchange for heavy subsidized prices on new devices. This is particularly inconvenient for consumers traveling abroad who don't want huge roaming charges, or if they simply want to change carriers. 

But now, the rules are expected to allow mobile customers to unlock their phones after their contact expires. It will also bring uniformity to all U.S. carriers, so that different rules across different carriers don't become a headache. 
The Reuters report mentioned that the FCC and U.S. carriers are still discussing key points before an agreement is made, such as how fast the new policy would be rolled out; how to keep unlocked phones off of black markets, and how pre-paid phones would be handled.
The agreement is expected "soon."
Just last month, 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. 
You can check the full letter out here

Source: Reuters

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By Arkive on 12/12/2013 1:15:59 PM , Rating: 2
...the FCC and U.S. carriers are still discussing key points before an agreement is made, such as how fast the new policy would be rolled out; how to keep unlocked phones off of black markets ...

What black market(s) are they referring to?

RE: Wha?!
By Roy2001 on 12/12/2013 1:33:51 PM , Rating: 2
Stolen phone.

RE: Wha?!
By Solandri on 12/12/2013 3:06:49 PM , Rating: 2
Unlocking has nothing to do with stolen phones, that's just a smokescreen being put up by the carriers. Each phone has a unique ESN, MEID, or IMEI number which can be used to link the phone to the owner's service account (it's independent of the SIM). Like a car title, you can use that number to denote ownership of the phone in a database. Selling a phone would then involve some paperwork where the database is updated and ownership of the ESN/MEID/IMEI transferred to the buyer.

For a carrier to accept an unlocked phone but block a stolen phone, all they have to do is ask the previous carrier to verify the phone belongs to the person who is requesting service. It's that simple. The database just needs to be centralized and shared so it can track phones which haven't been used in years but were kept in a box in case of an emergency or if the new phone broke or was lost.

RE: Wha?!
By fic2 on 12/12/2013 6:19:17 PM , Rating: 2
I would prefer instead of carrier A asking carrier B if I own a particular phone that the carriers would implement the stolen phone db that they have talked about for several years. My phone gets stolen the ESN, MEID, or IMEI number gets entered into the db. Then when the phone+SIM gets registered on a network for the first time the db is checked. This way the only paperwork that has to be done is when a phone is stolen.

That way the NSA has to at least make a small effort into figure out who owns what phone.

RE: Wha?!
By Strunf on 12/13/2013 7:31:24 AM , Rating: 2
They just need to have a central DB with all the numbers and when a phone is reported stolen then they put it in the DB, this way when the thief tries to use the phone the number will be checked and if the phone is flagged as stolen it won't work. I think this is how it works.

Anyways the number of phones that get stolen is so low that it sound more like they want to make it more difficult to sell 2nd hand phones.

RE: Wha?!
By philpoe on 12/13/2013 2:06:33 PM , Rating: 2
... which is the way CDMA carriers do it, but not GSM ones (as of today).

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