Despite new regulations that came into play back in August 2014, confusion lingers about the legality of locked and unlocked cell phones. As an MVNO, we have always had our customers ask; How Do I Unlock My Phone? So we decided to set some things straight with this post. We hope you find it informative!
First Things First – What Does It Mean To Have a Locked Phone?
A locked phone has a software code that prevents you from switching from one carrier to another. This means that your locked phone can only be used with a specific carrier it’s locked too, and unfortunately, this means that you can’t just pop a SIM card into your phone and expect the phone to work.
From a consumer standpoint, when you’re purchasing a new phone, it’s safe to assume that a phone is locked if you’re purchasing the phone from a major carrier in America. Carriers such as US Mobile sell all their phones unlocked and can be used with almost any network in the world.
This practice is in tune with many other countries such as Germany, Singapore, and Italy, to name a few, where wireless carriers are not allowed to lock their phones. Yes, you heard, right. Carriers are NOT allowed to lock their phones, regardless of whether you sign a contract with them or not. Contracts are generally written to be upheld and are almost always in favor of whoever writes them.
Carriers worldwide have legal recourse in case a customer breaks a contract and does not fulfill his/her obligations, such as reporting your credit to a credit bureau, so why would you want to lock a customer’s phone?
What Happened on August 2, 2014?
In August 2014, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act were enacted, making it legal for your phone to be unlocked once you fulfill the contract and/or required device installments. For prepaid, you are eligible to unlock your phone within one year of initial activation. More information can be found on FCC’s website.
So, is it Legal to Unlock My Phone?
Yes! You are now able to unlock any phone, new or old, without breaking the law. However, each carrier has a different approach, you can learn more on their website under the device unlocking policy.
Here’s how some of the bigger carries handle locked phones:
- AT&T sends unlock instructions upon request, but that shall not work on devices from other wireless carriers. You can head over to the AT&T website and fill out the respective device unlock form
- Verizon sells unlocked 4G and LTE phones while their CDMA phones, which aren’t being made anymore, can’t be moved to other carriers.
- Sprint unlocks devices from Sprint’s network provided that certain requirements are met. If you want to check to see if you can unlock your device, you can speak to a Customer Service representative through an online chat or via a call to (888) 211-4727 (*2 from a Sprint device).
- T-Mobile has a Mobile Device Unlock application. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can unlock your phone through a live chat with a T-Mobile customer representative or by calling 1-800-746-0949 (or 611) from a T-Mobile device.
At US Mobile we believe in complete freedom and for that reason, we only sell unlocked phones on our webshop.
Finally, US Mobile will not even lock you into a contract because we believe that our customers choose to stay with US Mobile because of our exceptional customer service and cheap cell phone plans.
We hope this gives you a clearer picture of your consumer rights when it comes to unlocking your phone.
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