FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has sent a message to US carriers US carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon that he would pursue regulation if they didn’t comply with the terms to unlock their customers cellphones ‘once their contracts have been paid off.’ The carriers also have to notify customers once their devices are eligible to be unlocked, or automatically unlock devices remotely, for free, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
CTIA wireless association has confirmed that the five carriers have agreed to the above terms and that they will be applied both to mobile phones and cellular-enabled tablets.
Within three months, each carrier are required to implement at least three out of the six standards specified in the agreement ( see list below). And within 12 months the carriers should have implemented all six.
1. Disclosure: Each carrier will post on its website its clear, concise, and readily accessible policy on postpaid and prepaid mobile wireless device unlocking.
2. Postpaid unlocking policy. Carriers, upon request, will unlock mobile wireless devices or provide the necessary information to unlock their devices for their customers and former customers in good standing and individual owners of eligible devices after the fulfillment of the applicable postpaid service contract, device financing plan or payment of an applicable early termination fee.
3. Prepaid unlocking policy. Carriers, upon request, will unlock prepaid mobile wireless devices no later than one year after initial activation, consistent with reasonable time, payment, or usage requirements.
4. Notice. Carriers that lock devices will clearly notify customers that their devices are eligible for unlocking at the time when their devices are eligible for unlocking or automatically unlock devices remotely when devices are eligible for unlocking, without additional fee. Carriers reserve the right to charge non-customers/non-former customers a reasonable fee for unlocking requests. Notice to prepaid customers may occur at point of sale, at the time of eligibility, or through a clear and concise statement of the policy on the carrier’s website.
5. Response time. Within two business days after receiving a request, carriers will unlock eligible mobile wireless devices or initiate a request of the OEM to unlock the eligible device, or provide an explanation of why the device does not qualify for unlocking, or why the carrier reasonably needs additional time to process the request.
6. Deployed personnel unlocking policy. Carriers will unlock mobile wireless devices for deployed military personnel who are customers in good standing upon provision of deployment papers. Consumers will have access to clear, concise, and readily available policies about unlocking their devices.
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