New Policies for Cell Phone Unlocking to Arrive "Soon"
December 12, 2013 12:43 PM
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The FCC and U.S. wireless carriers are still working on a few details
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.
, 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.
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
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12/13/2013 2:06:33 PM
... which is the way CDMA carriers do it, but not GSM ones (as of today).
"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
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