White House files petition with the FCC to legalize cell phone unlocking

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,589   +124
Staff member
The White House, or more specifically, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has filed a formal petition with the Federal Communications Commission that would force wireless providers to unlock mobile devices at the request of customers.

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Posts: 3,213   +1,462
Is this even possible with all carriers? Sprint phones aren't GSM for example and don't have SIM cards so legal or not you can't get a Sprint phone to work with AT&T's network. I know AT&T and T-Mobile are compatible, but I'm not sure about Verizon. I remember we had a story a while back about the Nexus 4 having LTE that you could turn on, but only in Canada or something because they had the right bands. Point is, I don't think unlocking is as simple as installing a software update.

So far as the carriers are concerned, there are two sides to the argument. They could lose customers if phones are unlocked, but they could also gain customers. It would increase competition, but it would also increase costs for the carriers. They would have to provide this service, which means either it wouldn't be free or other fees go up. Carriers may be against it just because it'll be a hassle.


Posts: 16,120   +4,894
When AT&T/ Bell Telephone monopoly was broken up decades ago, one of the chief advantages of the move, was that consumers were no longer forced to rent their phones.

Before the breakup, you could expect an equipment rental charge on every phone you got. There was jubilation throughout the land!. You could now go almost anywhere and buy your own phone, in any size shape or color your heart desired.

Plus, all of the phone networks had to be compatible and interconnected.

And so, boys and girls, IMHO, it's already illegal to force phone rental (*) on the public. It just so happens that the American consumer is too ungodly stupid to know it.

(*) When you come right down to it, isn't a locked cell phone attached to a forced contract, just a euphemism for "equipment rental"?

And couldn't Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner, be classified as "monopolies", in all but the strictest sense?