FCC and CTIA Largely In Agreement About Device Unlocking

Among the first actions new Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeter is taking is to reemphasize the Commission’s desire for clear service provider policies and practices related to device unlocking, at least once a subscriber has ended a service agrreement.

Wheeler, in a letter to the CTIA, reiterated the Commission’s position on how device unlocking should work.

Policies should be clear, concise, and readily accessible to consumers, Wheeler said. Devices should be  unlocked when a service contract or installment plan has reached its end.

Service providers also must notify customers when their devicesare eligible for unlocking, or automatically unlock devices when eligible, without an additional fee.


Service providers also should  process unlocking requests or provide an explanation of denial within two business days.

Service providers also must unlock devices for military personnel upon deployment.

CTIA and the FCC seem to be in agreement on all but the item regarding consumer notification.

Wheeler notified the CTIA of his view that without the consumer being notified about unlocking eligibility, “any voluntary program would be a hollow shell.”
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