The new proposal fall short of completely eliminating “locking” of cell phones to specific carriers. In Wheeler’s proposal, there is still a concept of ETF (Early Termination Fee) which means that FCC would still allow carriers to lock their phones for customers who signed service contracts. There are still provisions for carriers to deny the unlocking of phones but pushes the automatic unlocking of phones when customers are no longer tied to service contracts.
I doubt this will really change anything since consumers have to wait till their phones are no longer under contracts before they can switch to different carriers. The point of locking the phones is to tie the consumers down so that they can’t move to a different carrier locally or while they are traveling internationally.
I prefer the way T-mobile is dealing with the issue, that is allow customers to finance their phones without contracts and if the customers choose to leave T-mobile, they can then pay the difference. Technically, T-mobile don’t really need to lock their phones to tie customers down. Unfortunately, they still lock their phones to tie you down.
If the FCC mandates the unlocking of the phones if consumers pay for their phones, I guess this will help a select group of people.
When my AT&T phone was off contract, I was able to get AT&T customer service to unlock the phone. It wasn’t as easy as filling out a form online, but I managed to do that via their online chat service.
- FCC and Wireless Carriers in Tussle Over Locked Phones (hispanicbusiness.com)
- Want to unlock your smartphone? The new FCC Chairman has your back (digitaltrends.com)