Cellphone Unlocking Deal Rife with Terms, Possible Fees

Cellphone Unlocking Deal Rife with Terms, Possible Fees Because of a copyright law, if your wireless phone was purchased after Jan. 26, 2013, you can’t take that phone with you if you switch to another carrier.
This new policy against “unlocking” erupted into widespread criticism that included the Obama Administration’s opposition and understandable consumer outcry. The nation’s top telecom regulator even threatened to get involved.
The wireless industry, however, would rather set its own terms, instead of potentially dealing with the Federal Communications Commission. So the industry’s biggest wireless providers, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular, Thursday announced that they have committed to a set principles that will allow you to unlock your phone.
But it’s completely on their terms, as outlined by the wireless trade group, CTIA. Those terms include a possible “reasonable fee” for unlocking requests.
So here are the basic terms, in the CTIA’s actual language.
Each carrier will post on its website its clear, concise, and readily accessible policy on postpaid and prepaid mobile wireless device unlocking.
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.
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.
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.
Response Time:
Within two business days after receiving a request, carriers will unlock eligible mobile wireless devices or initiate a request to 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.
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.
Carriers reserve the right to decline an unlock request if they have a reasonable basis to believe the request is fraudulent or the device is stolen.

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