US carriers agree to unlock customers’ phones after pressure from FCC

17 12 2013
AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular have “voluntarily” committed to unlocking customers’ cell phones once their contracts have been paid off. The wireless carriers will notify customers when their devices are eligible to be unlocked, “or automatically unlock devices remotely, for free,” the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said today.While the agreement was described as voluntary, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had told the carriers he would pursue regulation if they didn’t comply with his terms. A recent ruling by the Librarian of Congress meant that a consumer unlocking his or her own phone would be violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention provisions. Today’s agreement should sidestep that by putting the onus to unlock on the carrier, although it doesn’t help consumers who are still under contract.



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