by Brent Dirks
December 12, 2013
The four largest carriers in the United States - Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile - have announced an agreement on a set of six voluntary principles dealing with unlocking consumer phones and tablets. All four carriers offer Apple’s iPhone and iPad. U.S. Cellular also agreed to the principles. According to the CTIA, which announced the agreement, all principles will be adopted within 12 months of their inclusion in the CTIA Consumer Code for Wireless Service. The highlights include that each carrier will post on its website a clear and concise policy on unlocking and that mobile devices will be unlocked for customers after their service agreement has expired. Unlocking a tablet or phone allows consumers to use the device with another carrier or outside the United States. Here’s the complete list of principles:
1. Disclosure. Each carrier will post on its website its clear, concise, and readily accessible policy on postpaid and prepaid mobile wireless device unlocking. 2. Postpaid Unlocking Policy. Carriers, upon request, will unlock mobile wireless devices or provide the necessary information to unlock their devices for their customers and former customers in good standing and individual owners of eligible devices after the fulfillment of the applicable postpaid service contract, device financing plan or payment of an applicable early termination fee. 3. Prepaid Unlocking Policy. Carriers, upon request, will unlock prepaid mobile wireless devices no later than one year after initial activation, consistent with reasonable time, payment or usage requirements. 4. Notice. Carriers that lock devices will clearly notify customers that their devices are eligible for unlocking at the time when their devices are eligible for unlocking or automatically unlock devices remotely when devices are eligible for unlocking, without additional fee. Carriers reserve the right to charge non-customers/non-former customers a reasonable fee for unlocking requests. Notice to prepaid customers may occur at point of sale, at the time of eligibility, or through a clear and concise statement of the policy on the carrier's website. 5. Response Time. Within two business days after receiving a request, carriers will unlock eligible mobile wireless devices or initiate a request to the OEM to unlock the eligible device, or provide an explanation of why the device does not qualify for unlocking, or why the carrier reasonably needs additional time to process the request. 6. Deployed Personnel Unlocking Policy. Carriers will unlock mobile wireless devices for deployed military personnel who are customers in good standing upon provision of deployment papers.I’m glad to see the carriers finally get their heads together and decide on these simple principles that will actually benefit consumers. For other news today, see: Group Messaging Service Moped Acquired By Wunderlist Developer, China Mobile Teases Imminent Launch Of iPhone Preorders At Its Beijing Website, and Getting Even: Square Acquires Expense-Sharing Startup Evenly.