FCC Chairman urges CTIA to amend Consumer Code on unlocking

By , Nov 15, 2013

Unlocked iPhone

There’s been a lot of talk in recent months about the consumer’s right to unlock their mobile devices, but very little meaningful action. That changed this week, though, thanks to new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Wheeler sent out a letter to the CTIA (the governing body of the wireless industry) urging it to amend its Consumer Code to include a policy ensuring consumer rights to get their devices unlocked once off contract…

In the letter (via Engadget), Wheeler outlines 5 things that the FCC is looking for in the new policy:

  • provide a clear, concise and readily accessible policy on unlocking
  • unlock mobile devices for legitimate owners of those devices once their service contract has been fulfilled
  • notify customers when their devices are eligible to be unlocked and/or automatically unlock those devices for free
  • unlock devices or provide an explanation of a denial of any unlock requests within two days
  • unlock devices for military service men and women upon deployment

What this all means for us is that once the CTIA amends its Consumer Code, all US wireless carriers would have to alter their policies on device unlocking to fall in line with the above guidelines, or face repercussions.

Apparently the FCC has been working with the CTIA for eight months on this initiative, but they’ve yet to reach a solution. The two sides agree on all of the points except for the third one regarding notifying customers.

“It appears that CTIA and the FCC are in agreement on all but the third item regarding consumer notification. Absent the consumer’s right to be informed about unlocking eligibility, any voluntary program would be a hollow shell.”

Wheeler finishes the letter with a not-so-veiled threat, saying that enough time has passed and it’s now time for the industry to act voluntarily or for the FCC to regulate. He hopes to reach a solution before the holidays.

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  • chumawumba

    6. Unlock your phone whenever you want for free.

    • jack

      wont happen because you paid a lower price for the locked phone.. to be reasonable it should be mandatory to carriers to allow and inform the user the cost of a anytime unlock.

  • Darrick

    Will this apply to sprint, who has never unlocked for domestic use?

    • Antzboogie

      We hope so!

  • jocastro

    they forgot about jailbreaking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Rowan09

      Jail breaking is legal but like rooting the company will void your warranty if they find out.

      • jocastro

        duh man, i was being a smart butt lol.. ive been jailbreaking for years lol

  • Skim

    I don’t get why the phones are locked. Regardless of whether I change my sim. I’d still be required to pay my monthly fee to the network to which I am contracted to…

    • Raashid

      Ever heard of bad credit? If not, you should understand that there are those who would sign the contract to get a phone at low price then never pay the bills up to a point where the carrier decides to cut-off their service. When such happens, the carrier would like to ensure the device can’t be used to it’s max potential in such situation without the need to chase the individual….

  • Rowan09

    Please do it’s affecting my business.

    • felixtaf

      Same here.. A lumia 920 bought to sell is sitting in my draw for a month. Cant unlock coz of at&t. 2$ iPhone Unlock is now 95 to 130$ (That too, not 100%).

  • Antzboogie

    Finally someone sticking up for us its my phone I do what I want with it its not a rental.

  • Al

    Is it true that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is for the consumer?

  • John Foster

    kind of pricey and they don’t do sprint phones,,,