FCC Wants Carriers To Clarify Unlocking Policies

For the past couple of months, the Federal Communications Commission has shown interest in changing carrier policies regarding the process of smartphone unlocking. This week the FCC's new Chairman Tom Wheeler sent out a letter to the president of the CTIA (which represents the mobile carriers), stating that new unlocking policies need to be agreed upon for U.S. mobile companies.

Unlocking has been a point of discussion between the CTIA and FCC for nearly eight months but Friday's letter shows that Wheeler is looking for the new policies to go into effect as soon as possible. In general, the FCC wants consumers to be able to easily unlock their phones once mobile contracts with a carrier have been fulfilled.

Time for Action

Wheeler has been working closely with the CTIA since last month when he took over the FCC, and since the talks have yet to result in change for the consumers, he is hoping that this letter will spur some sort of real change in 2014.

"Enough time has passed, and it is now time for the industry to act voluntarily or for the FCC to regulate. Let's set a goal of including the full unlocking rights policy in the CTIA Consumer Code before the December holiday season," Wheeler said.

The FCC is leading the effort to change unlocking policies, but members of the White House and Congress have also favored allowing consumers to unlock their phones.

Most carriers still refuse to allow their customers to unlock devices even after a contract has been fulfilled. This has continued to be an annoyance for consumers, since they are forced to work with the same carrier on a new contract or sell their phone.

So far, the CTIA has mainly promoted the idea that carriers should have the option to allow unlocking but that making...

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