I recently came across an article on the Tech Times site, written by Joseph Mayton, on a new piece of legislation signed in by US President Barack Obama, known as the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, which allows consumers to legally unlock their phones and purchase unlocked phones. I had a few questions about this, so I also spoke with an old friend, Steve Hilton, who helped me better understand the changes to getting and using unlocked phones.
Let me put this into perspective: at SMB Nation, we recently needed to unlock a phone for one of our employees. I went through a program called Unlockriver.com and paid $42.50 for an unlock code. The new legislation, signed in early August, makes this legal in the US. Now, here’s the kicker. Even under this legislation, cell phone companies are neither required to offer unlocked phones, nor are they being forced to unlock any phone without a valid reason.
Steve Hilton let me know that there are two sides to the unlock coin: legal and technical. You can legally unlock codes, but the phone’s technology protocol may still prohibit you from using more than one or two carriers, based on whether they use CDMA or GSM standards. But, as Steve explained to me, you can now buy unlocked phones on Amazon.com. For certain carriers, like T-Mobile, there’s a policy in place that will allow you to unlock the phone once for free within 90 days of getting the device.
So there you have it, folks.