The new Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Tom Wheeler, is determined to reform phone unlocking policy issues before the holiday season!
If you’ve recently been facing problems in getting your cellular phones unlocked, there’s a sign of relief from the new FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler.
The new chairperson has requested the CTIA Wireless Association to help further address and resolve outstanding issues around post-paid carriers’ phone unlocking policies before the end of 2013. In fact, Wheeler has written a letter to the President and CEO of CTIA Wireless Association, Steve Largent, stating that the carrier’s failure to comply could result in legal proceedings to force the issue.
Both the FCC and CTIA staff have been working together for the past eight months to bring a new amendment in the consumer code of the wireless industry.
The main key point is to create a policy that allows mobile phone users to unlock their wireless devices after the successful completion of their handset’s associated contract.
What are the Key Amendments in the Wireless Device Unlocking Policy?
According to the proposed policy, the following conditions must be satisfied:
- The provider would be required to give a clear, brief, and easily accessible policy for phone unlocking. It will allow consumers to satisfy the terms and conditions of the policies comfortably.
- The provider must offer phone-unlocking service to their current customers, legitimate owners, and previous customers upon the successful completion of the service contract or complete payment of the plan installments.
- The provider would be required to inform their customers about their eligibility for unlocking. Further, the provider can also offer automatic unlocking of the wireless devices without charging any additional fees in exchange.
- The provider must address unlocking requests promptly or explain the denial of phone-unlocking service within 48 hours (two business days).
- The providers must offer device-unlocking service to military personnel upon their deployment.
According to Wheeler’s letter to the CTIA Wireless Association, post-paid carriers and manufacturers are willing to implement all of these key points in their policy except the third one. Wheeler mentioned the importance of providing notification to the consumers for their eligibility for phone-unlocking as part of the bare essentials of the policy. Without the inclusion of this key aspect, the policy would be a failure in itself.
Wheeler also remarked the FCC’s goal is to resolve these issue before the holiday season in December. The letter indicated that the FCC might even take regulatory steps in case carriers and manufacturers fail to implement policy reform before the FCC’s proposed deadline.
Wholesalers, refurbishers and retailers have been some of the most vocal voices in the fight against cell phone unlocking, which has recently shaken up their businesses without notice.
“For over a year we’ve been able to unlock iPhones from third party sources at a cost which we’ve been willing to pay for. Legislation and reform was seen as moving in the right direction with IMEI unlocking becoming more widely known and accessible. To have all the positive changes for the businesses and end consumers striped away with no warning or reason is simply unacceptable.”
Non-post-paid carrier customers have not been specifically addressed. However, businesses who relied on unlocking ATT iPhones or offered unlocking as a service should be excited that the FCC and CTIA have heard their complaints and made the issue a priority.
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