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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 Orchunter on 12/12/2013 2:42:58 PM , Rating: 2
Well, the issues that really irritate people are

1. Even after you are off the contract they do not lower the monthly bill .
2. Even if you have a phone of your own , you are paying the exact same rate a person who is buying a subsidized phone ( at least on AT&T ).

By cbgoding on 12/13/2013 11:50:02 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see how? I just started an off-contract gophone plan with at&t, at 60/mo. On contract they charge 95/mo, assuming both plans are 2GB.

By Cheesew1z69 on 12/13/2013 12:00:19 PM , Rating: 2
That, you weren't on 2 year contract that expired, that's what he is talking about. When my 2 year with Verizon is up next July, they aren't going to lower my bill, that's his point.

By philpoe on 12/13/2013 2:05:03 PM , Rating: 2
AT&T recently started offering a $15/mo "discount" for off-contract plans. In other words, if you've paid off the phone at the end of a 2yr contact, or are on their "Next" plans, where you're financing the phone separately, your plan is $15/mo less. A store rep also verified that if you bring your own device, it's $15/mo less as well.

I have to believe that this is at least partially in response to T-Mobile's "Un-Carrier" campaign

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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