Cellular Carriers Agree to Simplified Standard for Unlocking Phone

All five major phone carriers have agreed to publish standard unlocking policies, after pressure from FCC’s new chairman, Tom Wheeler. The proposed agreement comes from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless, and requires carriers to lay out a clear disclosure for unclocking cell phones, both for multi-year contracts and prepaid phones users.

Further, carriers must provide notice to eligible customers and provide unlocked devices within two days from an unlock request. Carriers have also agreed to unlock devices to military personnel with proper deployment papers.


In a statement announcing the new policies, CTIA’s President, Steve Largent also added the following warning:

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. Additionally, unlocking a device may enable some functionality of the device but not all (e.g., an unlocked device may support voice services but not data services when activated on a different network).


You can read the full announcement here.