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Congress Gives Unlocking Bill Another Shot

Article Comments  21  

Jun 24, 2014, 7:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Lawmakers on Monday agreed to a revised bill to make it legal for people to unlock their cell phones. Senator Patrick Leahy and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley introduced the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act last year in order to restore consumers' ability to unlock their phones. Unlocking phones became illegal when the Library of Congress allowed an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to expire. Leahy and Grassley's bill reached the penultimate step, but was then modified by the House of Representatives at the last minute to prevent bulk unlocking of cell phones. This caused it to lose much of its support in the Senate. Leahy and Grassley have been working since then to reach a compromise to which both parties can agree. They reached that compromise yesterday. "Our laws should not prohibit consumers from carrying their cell phones to a new network, and we should promote and protect competition in the wireless marketplace. This is important to consumers in every state, and I look forward to beginning consideration of our bipartisan legislation this week," said Leahy. Despite agreeing to broad terms, the bill still falls under the DMCA and leaves the ultimate decision up to the Library of Congress. If enacted immediately, it will be legal to unlock cell phones only for a period of 14 months before the policy must be reviewed once again by the Library of Congress. The wording of the bill mandates the policy be reviewed once every three years, which opens up the possibility for it to be struck down once again. Separately, the NTIA and the FCC have mandated that wireless network operators make it easier for consumers to unlock their devices. Most of the largest carriers have already begun putting policies in place that allow customers to unlock their devices once terms of their agreement are met.

Sen. Leahy »



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Jun 24, 2014, 12:58 PM


What is so difficult about unlocking a handset? Most Sprint and Verizon phones don't need to be unlocked, just activate them with one of the many MVNOs of Sprint or Verizon. Its really GSM handsets that need to be unlocked, of which there are millions of them out there sitting in a drawer because they are locked and thus unusable. No one wants to use their old carrier and 95% of people didn't know they needed the device unlocked before they left, which the carriers know. GSM or CDMA, all phones will all work within their respective ecosystem.
You wont hit all the bands for data, but the phone will almost assuredly work.

The whole concept of locking unlocking is a cash grab by the carriers, if I am buying a device that isnt under contr...
If the phone is not under contract you should have no difficulty getting the unlock code from the carrier, without having to pay anything.

When I worked for at&t, I unlocked 2-3 phones everyday, all I had to do is looked up the IMEI to make sure ...
what carrier chargers for unlocking a phone?
and as long as you finish out the contract o pay off your phone (most companies after 30days) you can unlock the phone without a problem, sprint may be different but i know the other 3 ive never had a prob...
Unlocking usually isn't difficult, but if you are not the original customer of the carrier, they often won't do it.

If the carrier doesn't want to play nice, you can usually find a way to unlock a phone elsewhere. But it doesn't always work and som...

Jun 24, 2014, 10:23 AM

Carriers still don't have to allow on their network

Unlocking the device is great. You feel free to unlock your device so you can take it with you to another carrier after you spen several houndred dollars for the phone. Once you get to your new carrier you find that they will not allow it on their network.
Just because it is not illegal to unlock a phone does not mean a carrier has to allow it to be used on their network.
And most will not.
They will tell you it is because the programming in the phone pr the channels are not compatible or you will have issues getting data because the Username in the phone is 5555555555@verizon.net (it defaults to this) and not 5555555555@uscc.net which is required to activate data.

my 2 pennies.
Not only do carriers not have to allow a phone on their network, but even if they did, the compatibility issues are such that some phone simply cannot be taken from one network to another network. You can unlock that T-Mobile phone all you like, but...
I hope it doesn't pass... Think about how many idiots there are that steal phones then get them unlocked so it resets everything. If you've spent 200 to 800 on a phone and your phone gets jacked you’re screwed of what you've busted ass for working t...
To the degree that a carrier does try to do that arbitrarily, it's another problem which needs to be fixed. We fixed it with crooked landline carriers like ATT, we can do it with Sprint's wireless shenanigans as well.

Compatibility CAN be an issue,...

Jun 24, 2014, 12:16 PM

Sounds Good

I am in favor of the consumer having the freedom to take his phone to another carrier. When possible, however with the varying frequencies used by the major carriers does this even matter?
Not so much. Even Straight Talk, which roams on the at&t and Verizon networks and is probably the most open network out there, and which is the same company as Net 10 and Tracfone, offers the 'Bring Your Own Phone' program, has a long list of phones ...
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