FCC to CTIA: Time To Fix Phone Locking Policies

Posted by at 3:28 pm on November 14, 2013

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler today filed a letter with the CTIA Wireless Association requesting that it resolve the consumer device unlocking policy issue voluntarily by December.

The FCC had previously requested that a new policy be put in place, and specified five provisions it wants to see in the new policy. According to Wheeler, the CTIA and FCC agree on all the provisions except for one. That provision states that carriers must actively notify customers when their devices are eligible to be unlocked, or unlock them automatically without requiring a fee. Wheeler said that it is time to move forward and put matter to rest, lest it be forced to take legal action. “Enough time has passed, and it is now time for the industry to act voluntarily or for the FCC to regulate. Let’s set a goal of including the full unlocking rights policy in the CTIA Consumer Code before the December holiday season.” The CTIA has yet to respond to Wheeler’s letter.

The matter isn’t entirely up to the CTIA, though willful cooperation by the industry is clearly the route Wheeler prefers. Consumers have been unable to lock phones since a provision of the Digital Millennium Copyrights Act expired in January.

At least one bill has been presented before congress seeking to reinstate the provision in order to make phone unlocking legal once more. That bill is awaiting action.

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