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US consumers may be able to unlock devices just two months into a contract

Staff Reporter
June 28, 2024

American mobile networks may be forced to allow customers to unlock their phones within two months of activation, even before their contracts have lapsed if FCC proposals succeed.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel (main pic) has proposed new unlocking rules that would allow consumers the freedom to take their existing phones and switch from one mobile wireless service provider to another more easily, as long as the consumer’s phone is compatible with the new provider’s wireless network.

FCC: wants consumers to have freedom to switch more easily

eSIM technology means customers could switch networks and activate new lines in seconds. On July 26, the FCC will vote on the proposal to expand unlocking requirements to establish a clear and uniform set of rules for all mobile service providers.

The proposal would also seek comments on whether an unlocking requirement should be applied to existing contracts or future contracts.


It also seeks comments on the impact of a 60-day unlocking requirement on service providers’ incentives to offer discounted phones for postpaid and prepaid service plans, as well as whether an unlocking requirement would benefit smaller providers, new entrants, and resellers by increasing the number of phones available on the secondary market

eSIM tech enables swapping networks within seconds

Real competition benefits from transparency and consistency,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel.

“That is why we are proposing clear, nationwide mobile phone unlocking rules. When you buy a phone, you should have the freedom to decide when to change service to the carrier you want and not have the device you own stuck by practices that prevent you from making that choice.”

Mobile phone unlocking can increase consumer choice and competition in the wireless service provider marketplace. Updated unlocking rules would give consumers more flexibility when switching service providers, increase competition by reducing consumer switching costs, and reduce customer confusion by applying the same unlocking rules to all mobile service providers.”

The FCC would seek comments on requiring all mobile wireless service providers to unlock mobile phones 60 days after the device is activated with the provider.




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