Wireless carriers, FCC ink deal that’ll make it easier to unlock a mobile phone

BY Kelly Hodgkins

Published 12 Dec 2013


Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced today that the agency has reached a deal with wireless carriers that’ll make it easier for consumers to unlock their mobile phones. This news was reported by Reuters shortly after the FCC statement was released.

These new unlocking practices were voluntarily agreed to by five of the major wireless carriers in the US including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless. There are six major points that the carriers must follow as part of this deal:

  1. Carriers must post on their website a clear and concise policy on unlocking both postpaid and prepaid devices.
  2. Postpaid devices will be unlocked upon request after a customer in good standing has fulfilled the terms of their contract.
  3. Prepaid devices will be unlocked upon request no later than one year after initial activation.
  4. Carriers will notify customers when their devices are eligible to be unlocked or unlock them automatically without additional fee. Carriers can charge former customers a reasonable fee for unlocking requests.
  5. Carriers will unlock or deny an unlocking request within two business days after receiving a request.
  6. Carriers will unlock mobile devices for deployed military personnel who are in good standing.

According to the agreement, carriers must implement three of these above policies within three months and must implement all of them within one year. You can read more about the agreement in this PDF statement from the CTIA.