United States carriers are now required to unlock mobile phones or other devices if users want to move to another network, according to a recent change in law that would require any carrier in the United States to unlock a device that has otherwise been locked. While there are caveats in the rule, by and large this will be a rule that will impact anyone who has ever wanted to change carriers but haven’t wanted to spend the money on a new device. This law change could make changing carriers not only possible, but also doable in the very near future. The regulation began this week and will continue throughout – forcing carriers to unlock any prepaid or postpaid device that is on the market.
Last year President Obama had signed the “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act,” which started this entire process. That being said, the move now to unlock all of these devices is something that has been debated now for a number of years. The CTIA, who was largely behind this move to make this legal said, “We are pleased the FCC acknowledged the participating wireless carriers met the deadline to unlock their customers’ devices per the Consumer Code for Wireless Service. We also remind consumers that an unlocked device does not necessarily mean an interoperable one since different carriers use different technologies and spectrum bands.”
Interestingly though, this is a move that will see a lot of popularity amongst the two largest carriers in the United States. While the smaller carriers will see some movement, and ti will make it easier for those smaller carriers to have their customers either poached or come to them – it probably will not be changing that much of the consumer electronics landscape in terms of who has the most customers. Carriers though will require the user who is trying to have their device unlocked pay the entire size of their contract off before they will unlock that device. This is to avoid people leaving contracts to float in the wind. Similarly, it is entirely likely that cellular carriers will have small fees in place that will be incurred when having a phone stripped of its ties to that particular network.