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FCC and Carriers Close to Solving Phone Unlocking Issue

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Dec 12, 2013, 8:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

U.S. wireless network operators and the Federal Communications Commission are on the brink of forging a plan that will make it easier for consumers to unlock their cell phones. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler recently suggested to network operators that they come up with a system for unlocking phones voluntarily before the end of the year, lest the FCC look to regulate the matter. Reuters reports that the companies are still working to surpass a few issues, but should get past them soon. Specifically, the carriers and the FCC have yet to agree on how quickly the new unlocking policy should go into effect, as well as how prepaid devices should be treated and how to prevent unlocked phones from becoming a black market commodity. It has been illegal to unlock cell phones without carrier permission since early this year when the CTIA convinced the Library of Congress to allow an exemption that permitted unlocking to expire. The FCC believes consumers should be able to unlock their devices as long as they are not beholden to a carrier contract, and that carriers should either unlock them automatically or notify consumers that their devices are eligible for unlocking. The FCC wants carriers to unlock devices within two business days once a consumer makes the request.



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