US Networks Agree to Start Unlocking Mobile Phones
Published on: 13th Dec 2013
By: Ian Mansfield
The USA's largest networks have taken steps to forestall legislation and agreed to voluntarily start unlocking phones subject to conditions.
AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless agreed to adopt a voluntary set of six principles for unlocking of consumers' mobile phones and tablets.
Before 2013, users didn't need permission to manually unlock a phone themselves, but a decision by the Librarian of Congress made it a copyright issue and effectively banned the practice.
There are ongoing bipartisan efforts in the U.S. House and Senate to pass a permanent fix to the law, so the voluntary agreement is likely to be a short-term measure.
CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent warned though that "It is important that consumers know that unlocking devices may not necessarily mean full interoperability since devices that work on one provider's network may not be technologically compatible with another wireless provider's network."
The statement from the CTIA did not outline what the six principles would be for unlocking phones, and they still need to be formally approved by the networks and the trade group.