Carrier locked phones could soon be a thing of the past


To make phones more affordable, carriers offer plans and deals for customers. This allows a customer to buy a phone from a carrier and pay it back through monthly installments. It will require customers to sign a contract that effectively causes their phones to be locked to the carrier for a specific period of time.

This makes it difficult for customers to use the phone on different networks if they want. There are official and unofficial methods of unlocking, but it can be troublesome. This is why the FCC has put forward a proposal that would require carriers to unlock a phone within 60 days of activation.

What this means is that if you buy a phone from a carrier on a plan and it is locked, carriers will have to unlock it or offer a way to unlock it within 60 days. According to FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel:

“Real competition benefits from transparency and consistency. That is why we are proposing clear, nationwide mobile phone unlocking rules. When you buy a phone, you should have the freedom to decide when to change service to the carrier you want and not have the device you own stuck by practices that prevent you from making that choice.”

Keep in mind that this is currently only a proposal so carriers aren’t obligated to follow this yet. The FCC also acknowledges that there could be complications. This is why they are seeking input on how this new proposal could affect arrangements like installment plans. You might expect that some carriers will resist this proposal, but interestingly enough, not all of them do. Take for instance Verizon. The carrier already has its own policy that will automatically unlock a device 60 days after purchase.

It remains to be seen if this FCC proposal will progress into a rule. But ultimately it does seem to be a good thing for consumers.

Tyler Lee
A graphic novelist wannabe. Amateur chef. Mechanical keyboard enthusiast. Writer of tech with over a decade of experience. Juggles between using a Mac and Windows PC, switches between iOS and Android, believes in the best of both worlds.

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