Several times throughout the year we shared stories related to the FCC law making it illegal for owners of smartphones to carrier unlock their smartphones without permission from the carrier. A petition was filed asking the US President and Congress to change this law. The President and several politicians from both sides have been working on laws to get this changed, but of course, we all know how glacially slow Congress moves on things. Luckily, folks who want to see this law changed have a little known ally from within the FCC themselves, Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Apparently, Chairman Wheeler has been working hard for the last eight months directly with the CTIA to get the regulations altered and allow customers to carrier unlock their devices when their contract is fulfilled. Unfortunately, the CTIA has been dragging their feet on the issue. Despite this, Chairman Wheeler is working on a plan to get things changed. Wheeler recently sent a letter to the CTIA. He demanded they take action on several key points, and gave them a deadline of December. If they don't comply, the FCC will take regulatory action against them. These are the five key points outlined in his letter,
- provide a clear, concise and readily accessible policy on unlocking
- unlock mobile devices for legitimate owners of those devices once their service contract has been fulfilled
- notify customers when their devices are eligible to be unlocked and/or automatically unlock those devices for free
- unlock devices or provide an explanation of a denial of any unlock requests within two days
- unlock devices for military service men and women upon deployment
Interestingly, right now the FCC and the CTIA are actually in agreement on all of these points except for one. Point number three is contentious to the CTIA because they don't want to be forced to tell customers when their phones can be unlocked, and especially not for free. Luckily, Wheeler's ultimatum means they can't really get stuck on this point for long. They either have to agree to his terms or come up with an alternative solution by December. If not, then the FCC will be able to step in and make the necessary changes.
Source: FCC Letter