View Full Version : New FCC chairman tells wireless carriers to unlock cell phones

11-16-2013, 01:57 AM

In one of his first days on the job, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has asked the CTIA Wireless Association to move quickly toward unlocking phones for consumers.

When a phone is unlocked, it can be used with any wireless carrier. It became illegal for consumers to unlock phones on their own earlier this year because of a ruling by the Librarian of Congress, who is responsible for handing out exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

In practice, carriers are often willing to unlock phones, particularly when the customer has finished paying off his or her contract. But the ban potentially creates problems for customers when they want to travel overseas without paying huge roaming fees or if their carrier refuses to unlock their phone. Wheeler said in his confirmation hearing in June that he wants to end the ban.

Wheeler formalized his view today in a letter to Steve Largent, CEO of the trade group that represents cellular carriers. Wheeler wrote, "It is now time for the industry to act voluntarily or for the FCC to regulate. Let's set a goal of including the full unlocking rights policy in the CTIA Consumer Code before the December holiday season."

Under Wheeler's proposal, carriers would have to unlock phones only after the consumer's contract is up. The rest of the letter reads as follows:


Wheeler is a former lobbyist and was even head of the CTIA between 1992 and 2004. But in an interview with AllthingsD today, he said, "My client today is the American people, and I am going to be the most effective advocate they could hope for."


:eek: When did hell freeze over? Obama actually hired someone on our side? Actually, this is the second time. The head of FEMA is pretty good too.