With a 295 - 114 vote in the House of Representatives, it's a step in the right direction

Since the end of January it's been technically illegal to unlock the SIM card slot of your phone in the United States. Luckily, a bill passed through the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday with a vote of 295 - 114 that would make it legal again. Though the bill in question would repeal many of the limits placed on phone unlocking, the bill's author would like it to keep bulk mobile phone unlocking companies in the ban. These companies will often buy used handsets, unlock them, and resell them, which wireless carriers don't like so much. This addendum is still under debate, plus we have to wait and see what the Senate will do with it.

For those unfamiliar, service providers like AT&T and Verizon typically lock their devices so they can only be used with their service. If unlocked, phones can be taken over to other carriers. This is hugely important for promoting healthy competition and empowering consumer choice, not to mention being very useful for travel.

How many of you have yet to unlock your device? Have you encountered any issues getting your device unlocked since the law went into effect?

Source: Reuters

 
There are 54 comments

S-Doo-1965 says:

I've herd the call and only buy unlocked devices. Last four phones from the Play store.

CMercs says:

You should probably note that unlocking a phone on Sprint and Verizon is a moot point. It only matters for carriers that support SIM Cards like T-Mobile and AT&T.

Is there any way a consumer could take a Verizon phone and bring it to Sprint or anywhere else? With our without this law?

NoYankees44 says:

Verizon uses sim cards now. Has sense before LTE was live...

It all depends on the bands in the device. Every carrier uses different bands for different functions. If the device is capable of using all the bands the carrier uses, then it will work. If not, then you will have limited functionality or no functionality at all. This is generally better on GSM carriers like ATT and Tmo, but some CDMA(verizon and sprint) phones are "world" phones and have GSM bands as well as CDMA. They just may not get every data band on a GSM carrier.

Long story short, it is on a completely device to device basis.

MERCDROID says:

Taking a Verizon phone to Sprint (and vice-versa) is downright impossible.

I do know that Sprint phones can be flashed to work on Pageplus (a 3G-only Verizon MVNO).

Because of the proprietary 3G tech, both networks' devices are not interoperable. Plus, don't expect either to flash the other's devices for use on their network.

Now, if I remember correctly, Verizon's latest LTE phones are factory-unlocked. So, as the poster above me mentioned, they can be used on T-Mobile or AT&T. The level of service you'd get would depend on the bands that the respective device supported.

I hope this and the other poster's reply have answered your question.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

TheMimic12 says:

LTE models from Verizon are FCC required to be factory unlocked. As such, an iPhone 5S or the moto x can be used on T-Mobile or AT&T.

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MERCDROID says:

+1 Yeah, I haven't forgotten about those FCC rules, trust me.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

TheMimic12 says:

Considering this is the only one they abide by, unlike allowing open access to their LTE network as required by the FCC

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Amir47 says:

I can unlock my sprint G2 for use with T-mo and AT&T. Hspa only though. No LTE. Vzw phones have band and that will on to but no 1700 for t-mo hspa so only useful in areas that have been refarmed to 1900

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MERCDROID says:

That's nice to know, brother. Thanks!

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Yes, you absolutely can. It is much more complex then you state. Let me explain. The major carriers lease their towers to smaller carriers, as well as pre-paid carriers in which a lot of them are owned by the major carriers. I recently unlocked my sprint Samsung galaxy s3 and brought it over to straight talk. I could have brought it to boost mobile, but I chose straight talk for now, which let's me make phone calls only and I have to use WiFi for data, since I'm an xfinity customer I have use of their wifi hotspots which are literally located everywhere in Massachusetts (one about every 300 yards that covers about a 600 yard radius). I pay 45 a month now instead of 110 a month. I did this on purpose until the 2014 phones hit stores in which I will sign another 2 year deal with a 2013 flagship like the nexus 5 for about next to nothing and my monthly bill will go back up but the point is by unlocking my phone and having a minor data inconvenience for 3 months will save me $165 which will pay for half of my 2014 flagship WiFi only tablet which will always have data using the hotspot from my nexus 5... So...unlocking my phone makes it possible for me to have last years flagship phone, this years flagship tablet (I'm more of a tablet guy) so yeah, for me its not moot...it works, and I will do this again next year and so on...edit: I was replying to someone who said it was pointless and couldn't be done and I don't know where their comment went but those above me obviously know the technical part of this and therefore I'm not talking to them

Nexogen

OLD_HATCH says:

This is like buying a Honda and only being allowed to drive on Honda Certified streets. wtf congress where is that common sense we voted for?

CMercs says:

I think they just applied it. That's what the repeal does. It allows you to take any phone to any carrier. The only contention now is that some R went and added a clause to the bill, after it was approved, that would ban consumers from actually selling their phones to any company who would unlock it and resell it (bulk-unlocking).

Whyzor says:

The bulk-unlocking can be a legitimate business, such as FreedomPop that sells refurbished Sprint phones to work on their network. I believe the Republicans clause is pressured by big carriers, because to the big carriers, making bulk-unlocking illegal is still a good way to keep a lot of phones from being interchangeable from carrier to carrier, and the average consumer doesn't want to go through the hassle of unlocking.

MERCDROID says:

Spot on. And, let's face it: it's due in-part to the wireless industry rapidly approaching saturation. There are only so many people in the market for a smartphone. At some point, the carriers are going to be juggling the same group of smartphone buyers.

So, controlling the Sim card slot is a way for the carriers to prevent a mass-exodus of their customers to a competitor. Customers that they may very well never get back, unless they're lucky or savvy enough to steal them from a competitor.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

TheMimic12 says:

Ours different with sprint. They're not unlocked by freedom pop. Sprint allows them to use their phones on their network with their spectrum.

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NoYankees44 says:

It is not quite that simple, because not every phone has the hardware to support every carrier's network, but assuming they do, your point stands.

CMercs says:

Agreed. I've long wanted Sprint and Verizon to support RUIM cards (CDMA version of SIM cards) and have just recently discovered that everyone can support CSIM on UICC. If we're going to legislate something let's legislate the use of this standard so I can take my AT&T phone to Sprint or my Verizon phone to T-Mobile. (And yes this would have to be supported by the phone manufacturers, although I'd think it would be cheaper for them to have to only make one phone for all carriers.)

Yeah, I made that exact statement about sponsored data, if it foes through we won't be purchasing data it will be given to us for free, and the providers like Netflix will be handed the bill, also social networks like say idk Facebook will have to pay for all the data sponsored data users use. So yeah! You get free data, but now the providers are going to charge you to have an account through them because the provider will go under if they have to pay for the millions and millions of users that hit their servers each day, so the carrier looks like a hero giving us free data and then we can't leave the driveway without paying a fee... Completely off topic but you're reference reminded me of what has been pissing me off lately and had to vent

Nexogen

NEXUS_HTC_PS says:

Where can I go to get my phone Sim unlocked for free? That's what I want to know.

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keith2k1 says:

You can Google that and it should come up with some good results...some you can do yourself.

Powered by T-Mobile

MERCDROID says:

+1

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

rudyy50 says:

These kinds of restrictions on private personal property are just another way for the federal government to oppress people.
My HTC One is unlocked, and I'll never buy another locked phone.

Posted with my HTC One GPe via Android Central App

dudeman456 says:

Umm, when you buy a subsidized phone the carrier wants ways to discourage you from leaving. If you have a problem with it, as a consumer you can buy an unlocked phone. It's your choice. Don't blame others for your problems.

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MERCDROID says:

Lol, But, he said he did buy an unlocked phone...

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Whyzor says:

It's not the federal government that you should be mad at, it's the carriers, who pressure weak politicians to support laws such as banning unlocking, slipping such laws into other major legislations. Only now are some politicians seeing the need to protect consumers and introduce a bill such as the latest one making unlocking legal again.

keith2k1 says:

My phone came unlocked so no worries here.

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dcjose48 says:

I just buy my devices at full retail price so they must unlock my device lol

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MERCDROID says:

Which carrier? I know, with AT&T, the device has to have been activated on an account that's over 60 days old, before they'll give you an unlock code.

I'm not sure, if I'm remembering this correctly or if things have changed, though. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

I'm not sure, sprint makes you either wait until you're contract expires or you have to pay off you're entire contract before getting an unlock code. I think its different with each carrier.

Nexogen

movielover76 says:

I only buy unlocked phones, not my problem :)

TKL74 says:

Stupid at&t won't unlock my phone even I was only a month away from fulfilling my 2-years. I had to unlock because of traveling needs. I eventually went to ebay and bought an unlock code for like $4. SIM locking is the most retarded thing that just have to go.

miknxn says:

Buy unlocked, always have.

njo¡!

ayg says:

I've paid for unlock codes for every device I haven't been able to unlock in service menus. At worst it's cost $35 at best it's been less than a 6in sub at Subway.

When I hear all the stories about people wrestling with carriers trying to get unlock codes I assume people put a low value on their own time. If I can save 15+ mins on the phone with a carrier by paying $30 for a unlock code then sign me up!

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Xenx says:

Not that you couldn't be an exception.. but at $30/15min, I think you're overvaluing your time.

ayg says:

It doesn't take much to value 15 mins at $30. I place a multiplier on my free time from work, so at that point it's definately exceeds $30 per quarter hour.

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MERCDROID says:

I like the way you think, brother.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

cowboys2000 says:

I agree with you. if I can get what I want/need and not waste time and raise my blood pressure, I will part with my money.

MERCDROID says:

I know we're talking about phones. But, I'd like to add, I bought my iPad Mini 2 from Verizon because I can take it to AT&T and T-Mobile with no issues.

The CDMA iPad Mini and Airs can be used on up to 3 carriers. But, if you buy from AT&T or T-Mobile, then it can only be used on those two carriers. The models bought through Apple are treated the same way, depending on what carrier they're first activated on.

What I like about this functionality is that no unlock code is necessary. It's as simple as placing another carrier sim card in and done.

I wish phones were this interoperable...

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Ed Wheat says:

That is because it is unlocked already.

cowboys2000 says:

True,

That is the point he was making. It was already unlocked and carried the bands/frequencies of multiple carriers.

I bought mine from VZW and I also have a T Mobile SIM that works as well in my iPad Air.

MERCDROID says:

+1

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Ed Wheat says:

Moot point for VZW. All of their new phones are unlocked already. You can go buy a new S4 or whatever and put an ATT, Tmobile or any carriers sim in it and it works.

Amir47 says:

Verizon phones aren't locked...

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My Moto-G is carrier-locked to Verizon but I don't think the law is the problem. :D

tech_head says:

Hi,

The issue now is that Verizon phones are SIM unlocked but you can't flash the firmware from another carrier to provide a reasonable experience. You are stuck trying to edit the APN and in some cases, near impossible without Root.

Verizon's S4 and for that matter AT&T's is locked down tighter than a drum.
Locked bootloaders, impossible to root to change the APN is the new SIM lock.

wraith404 says:

I'm pretty sure CF-Auto-Root works fine on all the S4's, including Verizon and AT&T.

HeroicLove says:

This is a win for the world of open source. Which is what I'm all about.

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sprof says:

AT&T would not unlock my HTC One X 1 year into contract even though I needed it for travel. I left and sold the phone to pay the ETF.

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eahinrichsen says:

Good for you. Carriers won't stop bullying people until customers start calling them on their bullshit and leaving.

Did they offer a reason for refusing, though? I haven't bought a carrier-locked device in ages, but in the past, I never had an issue getting AT&T to unlock a device for me.

Posted from one of an unnecessarily large collection of Nexus devices because I'm That Guy

sprof says:

They said the device has to be paid for in order to unlock. Which means once I've completed the contact. No way around it.

I'll never have another contact. There are so many choices now with prepaid and unlocked, unsubsidized phones.

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conanheath says:

It's been my experience with ATT customer service that they are all idiots and nobody there knows what's going on day to day. Don't curse but demand to speak with a supervisor and keep going until you get someone to get you what you want. Love their wireless service and coverage but refuse to speak with CSRep on phone. It's just so frustrating.

ATT N3

bonedatt says:

T-Mobile bloat always unlocked my phone when I requested it. It usually takes 24hrs to receive the unlock code with instructions on how to unlock it.Although I hate the bloatware installed by carriers, buying a carrier branded device ensures that I get whatever speed that is guaranteed by the carrier's network.

I feel anything can be hacked if you put you're mind to it, just buy a pre-paid crap phone and clone it to you're phone of choice...

Nexogen

jimbo says:

Knowledge is the singular factor, feelings aside.