Skip to comments.Congress Passes Bill Allowing Unlocking Cell Phones
Posted on 07/26/2014 4:32:28 PM PDT by Kaslin
A bill to permit the practice of "unlocking" a cell phone--meaning a consumer could use the same phone on different carriers--was passed by the House of Representatives yesterday and is expected to be signed into law by President Obama. The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act passed with wide bipartisan support and was sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) in the House and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in the Senate.
Unlocking a phone without the wireless carrier's permission was legal in the U.S. until a 2012 decision by the U.S. Copyright Office. That decision resulted in a grassroots campaign to fight for the legality of unlocking a phone. A petition on the website We The People garnered over 114,000 signatures in support.
The White House released a statement praising Congress for passing the bill, saying that it will help to restore "basic consumer freedom."
I applaud Members of Congress for passing the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act. Last year, in response to a We the People petition from consumers across our country, my Administration called for allowing Americans to use their phones or mobile devices on any network they choose. We laid out steps the FCC, industry, and Congress should take to ensure copyright law does not undermine wireless competition, and worked with wireless carriers to reach a voluntary agreement that helps restore this basic consumer freedom. The bill Congress passed today is another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, so that they can find a cell phone carrier that meets their needs and their budget. I commend Chairmen Leahy and Goodlatte, and Ranking Members Grassley and Conyers for their leadership on this important consumer issue and look forward to signing this bill into law.
Kudos to Congress for finally getting this one right. More consumer choices is always a good thing, and carriers have no right to refuse to unlock phones even after a contract has ended.
Almost impossible to believe the Feds did something good for the people.
very much so
I don’t quite grasp what they have done and how it helps the people. There has got to be some kind of lawyer set traps hidden in the language.
>>Almost impossible to believe the Feds did something good for the people.<<
I have been sending my old PDAs to my relatives in Mexico for years. All of them have been put to use immediately by various carriers with no problem.
They think it strange we can’t take our phone from carrier to carrier up here.
(In case the phone is ever lost or stolen, so they can render it worthless)
My cheap phone and my no-contract service is very inexpensive, but if it was ever stolen, I could have the unused service balance transferred, and the phone would be rendered worthless to a thief.
I can see wanting to be able to sell or donate an old but still good higher end phone, and also why one might want to change service providers at will.
But doesn't this also make it easier for thieves to profit?
Does it mean AT&T still has to honor the warranty?
I ask, because I don’t know how the higher end consumer device warranties work.
You probably have to call the NSA to get them to switch it over.
Be forewarned: there is almost ALWAYS a deductible they don’t mention when you sign up for it.
Stay tuned....Obama plans to unblock pens next
I didn’t realize the Feds outlawed the act of unlocking a phone in 2012. Does this bill do anything besides undo that FTC rule?
Your phone’s handset registers it’s “hardware” (usually referred to as an IMEI for most phones) every time it authenticates with a network (aka you turn it on, travel, etc). The phone company knows that IMEI belongs to you.
When someone steals your phone, you should immediately call your provider. They will basically “flag” that IMEI as stolen. Options at this point for the company range from sending its location data to the police, all the way to (most likely) simply not allowing that phone to register. In other words, turning it into a brick. Or, in your terminology, activating a kill-switch.
This it the case for all cellular phones from the fanciest smart phone, to the dumbest burner phone (which I proudly carry).
But ONLY if you stay within the same system , GSM or CDMA
TMobile is less expensive than ATT.
Oh goodie. America is burning but I can change cell phone carriers.
It's rare to get a such a concise answer to an IT question.Bless you! So the anti-theft deterrent is the owner maintaining records of the device's IMEI code, no matter which service provider(s) the device owner chooses to select.Correct?
On the flip side, can service providers also detect the IMEI codes of devices that fraudulently access their wireless business services?
Because I was recently made aware of an “app” that allowed any laptop to become a “wireless hotspot”.
That seemed to me to be theft of services, since while it was proposed as an emergency “work around” for a sudden loss of local wireless Internet access due to unexplained equipment failure,it occurred to me that it could easily be used to get “free service forever” on somebody else’s dime.
They also pay significantly less for service. Using similar equipment and a large portion of the same support personnel.
Sanyo might manufacture the same device, but label it under several different OMD labels,ie AT&T, Panasonic, Sharp, Verizon etc.
So the AT&T version might come with a 1 year AT&T provided “manufacturers warranty”, while the Verizon version might come with only a 90 day “manufacturers warranty”.
Panasonic might offer a two year “manufacturers warranty”.
The warranties are based on what the OMD company negotiated with the manufacturer, generally based on total volume or customer base.
The manufacturer is in Thailand or China.
Good luck contacting the manufacturer for warranty repair/replacement.
I'm going to presume “unlocking” the device will also void the dealers warranty.
That sounds like fun, for the consumer!
Why is the government meddling in a private contract? Let the market and contract law dictate what happens to used phones.
I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 SGH-M919 that is for T-Mobile.
Samsung makes 11 different S4 models for different carriers.
When searching for a phone you have to look at what frequency the carrier uses. T-Mobile uses 1700 & 2100
A Nokia Lumia 1020 from ATT uses the same frequency’s and you can use a T-Mobile SIM card to have it work on T-Mobile.
Where I work T-Mobile is mostly dead inside the building but my co-workers ATT model with a T-Mobile SIM works great. The phone works and he gets data from 10mb to 13mb where I get almost no phone coverage and at best 440kb data to mostly zero. Both of us pay $30 a month and use skype for phone calls so we do not use our 100 mins per month. Using data it is pretty much unlimited.
Outside the building the Samsung Galaxy S4 phone works great. I suspect Nokia has a better antenna.
This is a good thing, but don’t they have slightly more important things to worry about?
Right about now, theOne is placing calls to Verizon and ATT and hitting them up for contributions so he can come up with an excuse to veto the bill.
Good grief. How is this a win for the marketplace?
Is there anything else we’d like Big Brother to arrange and regulate for us?
Smokescreen for the LIV to boost mid-term results.
“See? We unlocked your phones!”
Your wireless provider will keep a record of your IMEI. When you go to the store, and buy a new phone under contract, they update their records with the new phone. If you instead buy a phone from a friend and add it to you contract, part of the registration process involves them updating this information as they add it to your account.
If you want your own, most phones have the IMEI recorded on the phone behind the battery. If you have AT&T or T Mobile, you can also type *#06# and the phone will display it for you.
A service provider can only know if a device is fraudulently accessing the network if they know it is stolen. Which is why it is vital to call them if you suspect it has been. Your phone authenticates with the network many, many times a day. One of the pieces of authentication is your IMEI. Basically, your phone says “I am XXX”. The network looks up the IMEI (amongst other things), runs that IMEI against a database to make sure it’s valid and not stolen, then allows you service if everything checks out.
By reporting the stolen phone to your provider, they will add your phone to the database tagging it as bad. So a thief takes your phone, you report it, they add it to the database. The next time the thief tries to turn the phone on, travels, or even a certain time passes; the phone will attempt to authenticate again. Since the phone is now tagged as “bad”, authentication will fail. Common sense translation: it stops working.
Although computers are a little different, the same concept applies. To keep things simple, networks maintain who “you” are the same way through equipment identifiers. So if someone steals it, simply report the device as stolen.
Absolutely appropriate. You own your computers!
The warranty would be with the maker of the phone, not AT&T or any other carrier. The manufacturer's interest lies with the end consumer, not the carrier. In the past, they've crippled their phones in order to win approval from carriers, but they are nonetheless happy to see hackers bypass the cripplements. After all, if they worked to build in a neat feature, they are not going to be happy about its curtailment to support a carrier's agenda.
IOW, phone makers are great. Carriers suck!
Fun for the lawyers, and hopefully very expensive for the carriers, dealers, etc., attempting to assert the voiding provisions!
Will manufacturers now make the product differently, knowing it cannot be locked? In the future will this get rid of models being made exclusively for one carrier? I think things are about to change for the whole cell phone industry.
My sister emailed today that her Samsung Galaxy S4 SGH-M919 will not charge. She sent me a part that needs replacing and a link to a video that shows how easy it is to replace the usb port. Price of the part is just $3.99
Buy the tools you need maybe another $8
Most of the samsung parts are cheap except for the screen and digitizer. She will do the repair herself.
Samsung S4 Not Charging, Not Syncing, Repair - Fix
ePartSolution-Samsung Galaxy S4 SGH-M919 USB port Charging Port & Microphone Mic Flex Cable Ribbon Replacement Part
I tried to replace my screen on my first generation Nexus 7 and I ended up cracking the new screen during the installation. Lesson learned!