FCC proposes 60-day unlocking rule for all mobile phones

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority


  • The FCC has proposed a rule change that would require carriers to unlock all phones within 60 days of activation.
  • This move aims to empower consumers by allowing them to switch carriers more easily and promote healthy competition.
  • The FCC is seeking public comment on the proposal and will vote on it at a future meeting.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a new rule to simplify the process for consumers to unlock their cell phones and make it easier for them to switch carriers. Announced on Thursday by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, the proposed regulation would mandate that mobile providers unlock phones within 60 days of activation. (h/t: The Verge)

Currently, the process of unlocking a cellphone, which allows the device to be used with different carriers, can be cumbersome and time-consuming. This often leaves consumers tied to a single provider longer than they might prefer, primarily due to varying unlocking policies across different mobile providers.

The FCC believes this proposal would simplify the process of switching carriers by establishing a clear and consistent unlocking policy across all providers. Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel emphasized the importance of this initiative, stating, “When you buy a phone, you should have the freedom to decide when to change service to the carrier you want and not have the device you own stuck by practices that prevent you from making that choice.”

However, the proposal is not without its potential challenges. Some carriers may oppose the rule change, arguing that it could disrupt their business models and reduce their ability to offer subsidized phones. Additionally, the implementation of the rule could raise technical or logistical challenges, as carriers would need to develop processes to unlock phones within the 60-day timeframe efficiently.

To ensure a comprehensive understanding of the potential implications of this rule change, the FCC is actively seeking public comment on various aspects of the proposal.

The agency is interested in feedback on whether the unlocking requirement should apply to both existing and future contracts, the potential impact on service providers’ incentives to offer discounted phones, and whether the rule would benefit smaller providers, new entrants, and resellers in the market.

The commission will vote on the proposal during its open meeting on July 18.

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