After both the Senate and the House of Representatives unanimously passed the cellphone unlocking bill (Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act) last month, we only had to wait on the President to sign it into law. Today, President Obama will do just that, in a rare event the White House calls a “triple win” — one for the American consumer, one for wireless competition, and the other for bipartisan congressional action (democracy).
What all this means is starting today, we now have the right to unlock our smartphones — or pay someone else to do it for us — without fear of prosecution from the law. To be fair, cellphone unlocking has only been illegal for a little over a year now, this was after a previous exemption to 1998′s Digital Millennium Copyright Act expired back in late 2012. With a fresh new exemption now in place, we are now free to unlock our cellphones until 2015, in which case the whole process starts all over again.
Keep in mind that while it’s legal to unlock your cellphone in order to take to other service providers, you’ll first need to make sure it’s been paid off with your current provider. After that, you can either unlock your own, or a used smartphone you bought from someone off of Craigslist. Until the big 4 networks in the US are all using VoLTE, good luck finding smartphones that are actually cross compatible with other networks. The US is funny like that.