News by Andrew Kameka on Thursday December 12, 2013.
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CTIA, the mobile industry trade group that counts all the major cellular providers among its members, today announced that it has agreed to make unlocking cell phones easier at some point. Following threats from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that the FCC would force the carriers into a policy if they did not create a unified guideline, carriers have shared their "Voluntary plans" to ease the process of unlocking a smartphone.
AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile US, and US Cellular have outlined how they will setup joint principles to handle unlocking phones. The carriers will work to enact these principles within 12 months of adoption by the CTIA. The basic tenets of the Mobile Wireless Device Unlocking Voluntary Commitment state:
- Each carrrier will post on its website "clear, concise, and readily accessible" explanations for how customers can get a device unlocked.
- Carriers will unlock phones as long as the customer has paid for the device, an early termination fee, or contract expires. So long as the customer doesn't owe money, the device will be unlocked upon request.
- Carriers will unlock prepaid devices within the first year of the prepaid acccount being activated.
- Carriers will notify customers when a device is eligible to be unlocked. Some carriers may choose to automatically unlock devices remotely at no charge. However, carriers can still charge non-customers, meaning a phone that wasn't tied to an AT&T account but is locked to its network, a "reasonable fee" for unlocking the device.
- Carriers will unlock phones within two days of original request or offer a "reasonable" explanation of why the carrier needs more time, such as getting an unlock code from an OEM (Nokia, HTC, Samsung, etc.)
- Carriers will unlock phones for military personnel if deployment papers are provided.
- Carriers reserve the right to deny unlock requests if they believe a phone is stolen or if the paperwork provided to prove eligibility is fake.source: CTIA, via: Phone Scoop
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.