iPhones are expensive and often after paying for it on a two-year contract, it would be nice to unlock it from a carrier and use it with another carrier or plan. Currently, Apple defers all requests for unlocking iPhones to the carriers. Getting an unlocking code from a carrier for an iPhone can be difficult. Policies can require jumping through lots of hoops. After pressure from the FCC, carriers today officially confirmed to the FCC and through the CTIA that they have reached an agreement for industry wide cell phone unlocking protocols.
Chairman Tom Wheeler at the FCC sent an open letter to the wireless industry, last month encouraging them to adopt voluntary guidelines.
Today he issued a statement that the carriers have agreed that
- Consumers have access to clear, concise, and readily accessible policies regarding the unlocking of their phones.
- Carriers will provide customer notification or automatically unlock devices at the time of eligibility.
- Carriers will unlock devices within 48 hours or provide an explanation of denial.
- Carriers will unlock devices for deployed military personnel.
As part of this agreement, half of the components will be implemented within the next three months and all aspects of the proposal implemented within a year. There is also a report that prepaid cell phones may be unlocked after a year.
It is important to note a carrier usually will only unlock a phone that is paid for and after the end of a two-year contract.
Earlier this year, 114,000 signed a petition asking the White House to legalize cellphone unlocking.