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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41 Comments

1. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

This is GREAT news. EXCELLENT!

2. Tommy-Ka

Posts: 33; Member since: Jul 10, 2014

A curious question because I think it hasn't been mentioned: supposed I bought a Droid Turbo for a full retail price - I don't have a postpaid plan, or a prepaid one. Can I request unlock of my Verizon phone to use it on, let's say, T-Mobile?

4. huypaulha94

Posts: 24; Member since: Jun 21, 2012

You're able to unlock your phone yes, but since Verizon phones aren't wired for the same network as T-Mobile, CDMA vs. GSM it wouldn't work. That's why they say as long as it's a Compatible network, then you can use it freely. Technology only goes so far and that's not a fault of the carrier.

10. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Lte is a gsm technology

13. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

perhaps but voice services don't go through that, so until voice over LTE is implemented on a wide scale, it would just be a data device.

14. murron

Posts: 162; Member since: Jun 10, 2014

The Droid Turbo has GSM bands....

35. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Verizon LTE phones are unlocked out the box. Why else do you think their phones have more value? I've seen several people use Verizon phones on prepaid carriers.

12. DurTeeDee

Posts: 151; Member since: Sep 05, 2014

I have personally used two droid ultras, one mni and droid three on tmobile

32. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

Unlock iPhone on Verizon can be used with GSM network.

5. Twisted247

Posts: 282; Member since: Oct 12, 2012

No you cannot. Add the turbo is built for Verizon so the band's aren't there for tmo

18. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3192; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

The Droid Turbo, like many of Verizon's phones, have GSM/HSPA bands built in. You won't have LTE, but in some places HSPA is every bit as fast. So yes, it will work on T-Mobile for voice and data.

36. sniper1087

Posts: 537; Member since: Dec 31, 2011

in this case I think the turbo still gives LTE on T-Mobile, there are videos on youtube showing T-Mobile Droid turbo with LTE which is great news IMO.

11. murron

Posts: 162; Member since: Jun 10, 2014

These guys don't know what they're talking about! All Verizon LTE phones are already unlocked due to an agreement with the FCC. Furthermore, the Droid Turbo does indeed have all the bands necessary (GSM/EDGE and HSPA+ on band 2 1900 MHZ, and LTE bands 2 and 4) to work on T-Mobile. T-Mobile is also working on deploying LTE on band 12 which the turbo does not have but neither does hardly anything else including the iPhone 6! Here's a link to someone who has actually done this:http://theunlockr.com/2014/11/03/how-to-use-the-motorola-droid-turbo-on-other-carriers-video/

33. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

You are correct. Lots of these folks have no idea what they are talking about. Is one reason in the past you needed the blessing of Verizon to use your phone overseas; well overseas, Europe mostly or all GSM.

17. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

Actually you can. And I'm not sure they will NOT charge you to unlocked just have VERIZON unlocked it and buy a PREPAID activation kit. As for me I will from now on buy UNLOCKED phones. I don't like any CARRIERS bloat ware on a phone

19. Tommy-Ka

Posts: 33; Member since: Jul 10, 2014

Thank you murron and InspectorGadget80 for your answers. :)

43. Univice

Posts: 39; Member since: Jun 15, 2010

Be careful to look at all the specs when going this route. I was going to buy the factory unlocked international Galaxy Note 4 with the Exynos chip, but found it did not come with 4G. When it first came out it did not state this - as it now does on Amazon.

21. bfuller2006

Posts: 85; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Btw verizon 4G devices already unlocked.

22. bfuller2006

Posts: 85; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Verizon 4g devices are unlocked already.

24. cncrim

Posts: 1590; Member since: Aug 15, 2011

All LTE verizon phone unlocked out of the box. As long as the phone is not connect any fraud activity then you all good to go.

3. Fuego84

Posts: 357; Member since: May 13, 2012

Finally, man I was upset last time I called tmobile for them to unlock one of my note 3. Have just bought 2 note 3's and fully paying one of the note 3's within a week they gladly agreed to have that note 3 unlocked for me said I'll get the code in a few days and I did but then the next week after paying off the other note 3 I was told I have to have service with them for at least 40 days but the damn note 3 was already paid in full and supposedly that is why the went ahead and provided me with the unlock code for the other note 3 what a headache

6. brrunopt

Posts: 742; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

USA, welcome do 1996

7. Teejay1100

Posts: 115; Member since: Aug 16, 2012

This was long overdue!! You paid for it and the carriers didn't want to unlock it. It takes a law for them to do the right thing.

8. theguy2345

Posts: 1216; Member since: Jun 24, 2014

Good. The carriers have way to much power and the government should stop it. Next, carriers blocking updates. When I buy a laptop at Best buy, they don't block my updates, so why does T-Mo

9. jfuente11

Posts: 38; Member since: Nov 06, 2012

Just wondering how this will work with people who bought their phones from third party resellers... I mean who will determine if the phone was already fully paid or not?

15. danchoi704

Posts: 39; Member since: Apr 18, 2008

Good point, i am wonder the samething.

23. cncrim

Posts: 1590; Member since: Aug 15, 2011

Since you bought the phone with legit 3rd party seller then they should be reponsible enough unlock it for you. If you bough on CL or ebay etc..... Unlock rules apply, that is why every phone have Imei

16. spiderpig2894

Posts: 597; Member since: Jan 10, 2012

Sadly, you can't remove carrier brandings slapped all over the phone. Ruining the device's looks.

20. bugsbunny00

Posts: 2267; Member since: Jun 07, 2013

yeah...FREEDOM!!.

25. Manux

Posts: 26; Member since: Jan 29, 2015

Good news, thanks god in greece it was never locked.

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