Jul, 25 2014

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It’s happening… Soon it will once again be legal to unlock your smartphone (or have someone else do it for you) in the US. After the Senate passed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act nearly 2 weeks ago, The House of Representatives is now following suit. The cellphone unlocking bill was passed unanimously by the HoR this afternoon, leaving only President Obama as the only thing keeping this bill from becoming law. But don’t worry — Obama has already come out in support of the bill, saying in a statement:

“The bill Congress passed today is another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, so that they can find a cell phone carrier that meets their needs and their budget. I commend Chairmen Leahy and Goodlatte, and Ranking Members Grassley and Conyers for their leadership on this important consumer issue and look forward to signing this bill into law.”

While this is a huge step in the right direction, keep in mind the new bill isn’t permanent, merely a 3-year exemption that will need to be examined by the Library of Congress again in 2015. You can thank 1998’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act for that (as well as a boatload of other headaches surrounding copyright claims around the net).

Once signed into law, expect to find mom n’ pop shops popping up around your city offering cellphone unlocking services, or even a few who can do everything online. With telecoms gradually making the transition to LTE services — both data and voice — the days of universal cross network compatible devices could soon be upon us.

[Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy]