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FCC, carriers close to agreement on new phone unlocking policy

updated 02:04 pm EST, Thu December 12, 2013

New mobile phone unlocking rules expected soon

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is close to completing a list of rules for cellphone unlocking with US carriers, according to a report. The new rules would govern how a carrier advises a consumer about unlocking and the timing of the unlocking process itself, with the deal between the mobile phone networks and FCC expected to be agreed upon in the near future.

Sources of Reuters claim that the final sticking points in the discussions revolve around when the policy will be rolled out after acceptance, what to do in the instances of prepaid devices, and protecting unlocked devices from appearing on black markets. So far, all parties have agreed that carriers must notify customers about unlocking eligibility, such as via a text message, and for carriers to either process or deny a request for unlocking within two business days of receiving it from the customer.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

Unlocking became an issue after the Library of Congress reviewed DCMA exemptions, deciding that the relative ease of getting hold of an unlocked handset or unlocking through a carrier meant the exemption was not required any further. A petition garnering over 114,000 signatures forced the White House to respond, with the administration agreeing and formally petitioning the FCC to make changes to the unlocking rules. A group of US Senators also introduced a bill as a separate attempt to rectify the situation.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to speak at a House of Representatives hearing today over the matter, and later at an FCC meeting.

by MacNN Staff





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