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Wireless Companies, FCC Reach Deal On 'Unlocking' Cellphones

Thursday, December 12, 2013

U.S. wireless carriers reached a deal with the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday that will make it easier for consumers to "unlock" their mobile phones and use them on a competitor's network.

The deal came in the wake of a consumer rebellion over the policy of locking cellphones to a carrier. A petition that garnered more than 114,000 signatures landed at the White House, and the Obama administration sided with the petitioners.

The law changed this year after a ruling by the Library of Congress, which oversees U.S. copyright law and reviews exemptions every three years. After pressure from the wireless industry, the Library of Congress did not renew an exemption that had allowed consumers to unlock a cellphone.

But under Thursday's agreement, a carrier such as T-Mobile, AT&T or Verizon must now unlock a cellphone from its network within two days if a consumer requests it at the end of a service contract.

The agreement doesn't fully satisfy consumer advocates. Derek Khanna, one of the organizers of the White House petition, points out that it remains illegal to unlock a phone without permission from the carrier. "If a consumer chooses to unlock his or her own device," he says, "let's say [they] travel abroad, it is still a felony punishable by five years in prison."

Khanna also would like the FCC to monitor wireless companies to make certain that unlocking is an easy process for consumers. And advocates are still pressing for Congress to take up the issue and change copyright law.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Source: NPR

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Comments [1]

cuter from india

Now, Unlocking phones becomes legal . The white house banned their previous petition "unlocking phones illegal" . In my view, Unlocking is not a criminal action . If anyone wants to travel to other countries than US, they want to use it with that particular country's local network . All the network provider restricts their phone to use with various countries. Then, how can they use other carrier without unlocking their handsets. Its not illegal . It is one of the essential requirement for mobile users . Unlocking can be done by respective carrier or some of the providers like

Dec. 13 2013 01:14 AM

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