Starting today, carriers must unlock a phone that is paid off

Starting today, carriers must unlock a phone that is paid off
Remember how carriers used to turn you down when you requested that your phone be unlocked? Even if your phone was paid off, the carriers could deny you the opportunity to unlock your handset. But that is no longer possible thanks to an agreement signed in 2013 between the carriers and the FCC. Today is the deadline for for the carriers to comply with all aspects of the agreement.

Starting today, if you have paid off your phone (regardless if it was done via a subsidized contract or an installment plan), or own a pre-paid phone for a year, all four of the major U.S. mobile operators have to unlock your phone if you make such a request. In addition, the carriers are now required to tell you when you can unlock your phone. If you are U.S. military personnel, the new rules require a carrier to unlock your handset if you so desire.

It wasn't terribly long ago that unlocking your phone was against the law. But last year's Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act changed all that. If you own a phone lock, stock and barrel, you have the power. Each carrier has their unlocking policies listed online, and requests to unlock a phone must be taken care of within two business days.


Once you unlock your phone, it can be used on any compatible network no matter who the carrier is. Yes, it's a brave new world out there.

source: arstechnica, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile
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