President Obama to sign phone unlocking bill into law

President Obama will today sign a bill into law that will allow American citizens to legally unlock their phones in order to take them to another cellular carrier, either in the United States or abroad. The President announced his intent to sign the bill last week. The new law is only a temporary measure, and is only valid until 2015.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill last week, after it had previously been passed by the Senate, and both chambers passed the bill unanimously. The unlocking a phone while still under your carrier's contract has been technically illegal in the United States since the beginning of last year. Now, if your phone is capable of being unlocked, and you have complied with your contract, you will be able to unlock your phone.

How do you feel now that phone unlocking is once again legal? Sound off below in the comments.

Source: The White House


Reader comments

Unlock your phone legally starting today


It doesn't really matter all that much even though it was technically illegal their was plenty of places to get valid unlock codes online regardless.

No one persued unlockers

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Is Obama going to personally call carrier stores for people when they don't give an f and refuse? As has been the case before last year?

Last time I tried to unlock a phone with AT&T, it was a phone I bought from them and paid full, off-contract price for, and my contract was up, and they still said no. The f? I tried in store and I tried calling the service line. Don't think there was any online option at the time. Ever since then I just didn't buy any phones from them. I only buy phones if I can buy them unlocked directly from the manufacturer. Last few phones were Nexus 4, One M7 unlocked, Moto X unlocked, and Nexus 5. AT&T ain't makin' crap off me through phone sales. I will never buy a phone from them again. It's nice that I actually get a lower bill for bringing my own phone now too.

Threaten to sue, mention there's specifically a law saying that it's allowed. Accuse them of violating your rights. If you scare the shit outta then they'll do it.

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That's the problem. A ginormous company doesn't give a crap if a single lowly peasant threatens to sue. Neither do their low wage phone service employees care whether you threaten to sue the company they work for. I think my solution is more effective. Just stop buying phones from AT&T. If enough people did it, there would be sweeping changes to their policies and Americans wouldn't have to put up with buying locked, bloated, carrier infested devices.

Go to small claims court in your local courts. 9 out of 10 times they won't even bother to show up because it's not worth travel and thousands an hour for one person to make a beef in small claims court for them

I did the unlock online with ATT. The email they send tells you to insert a SIM card from another carrier and enter a code. Since I'm out of contract but haven't switched yet nor have I ever done the unlock process, I guess I just hold onto the email with the code. I plan to sell the phone once I figure out what I'm going to get to replace my Sammy GS3.

Since I requested the unlock online and they confirmed by sending me the unlock code, I have to assume that my phone is now unlocked. I guess if I DID switch carriers, I'd just follow the instructions in the email and enter the code, correct? Meanwhile I'm still on AT&T for the time being

Save yourself the hassle and just unlock it now.

You can still use your AT&T SIM after you unlock your phone. And then if/when you decide to switch carriers, just take out the AT&T SIM, and insert the new SIM from a different carrier. You won't have to do anything else.

Just like anything else. If there is a large enough opposition with money backing them nothing is permanent. Carriers are the opposition and have big money to push to get this reversed.

Because there is a clause in the DMCA that gives the Head of the Library of Congress the authority to review the matter every couple of years. They would need to amend that act in order to make a permanent change.

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No, for that you will have to root, and that could void your warranty. To find out how to root your device, just Google "how to root [your device name here]".

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No, unlocking and rooting are two totally different things. Rooting has never been illegal, unlocking has been for a few months. Unlocking is removing the carrier specific lock down that will only allow the phone to work on a that carrier. For instance, my T-Mobile S II will not work on AT&T, even though it should be compatible. However, once I unlock it, it then can be used on AT&T or any other compatible network.

This is mainly for AT&T and T-Mobile and only for the US, so it is not really a huge deal, unless you are looking to leave one of those two carriers for the other and take your phone with you.

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Like it was started in the article, since the beginning of last year.

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It is always said, history repeats it self. We are not back to the way it was when cellular service first stated and you could take you Motorola 550 to either of the carriers in your area. And their was only two, Hard wire and Non Hard wire.

So you did not like the service of one you took your phone and moved to the other.

It is all about the money now, carriers provision the devices they sell to only recognize their Sim cards and nobody else's. That way they can keep you as one of their customers for as long as possible.

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Is a sprint puk1 pin code the same as an unlock code or is there a different code you have to request? Are there any carriers that a Sprint phone will work on besides maybe boost and virgin?

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A PUK code will unlock the phone for International SIM's only. You can't unlock a Sprint phone for domestic use in most cases. IF the phone can unlock for domestic (think Nexus 5's bought from Sprint) you will need the MSL.

You could for international use only, not domestic. If you tried to ditch your current carrier and got an unlock, they would just blacklist it and you would have a paperweight

No, the Sprint phone does not have the correct hardware to work on T-Mobile.

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It does have the hardware for it, it is just that it is locked into the carrier by either harware or software means

People been using the Sprint G2 on T-Mo for a while. No LTE but you get 1900 HSPA

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I suspect there will still be hoops to jump through. AT&T's policy, as a CR understood it and explained to me in store a few weeks back, was that if you paid full price for your phone and you had continuous service for at least two full billing months, then you could get it unlocked starting with your third month of service. I doubt it will get any easier than this, but if it does, great.

What if you bring your own phone but have been with them for years will they unlock it? and its there a limit to how many phone they will unlock?

I don't know. I think they'd only be able to unlock AT&T locked phones, and probably much easier to do if you are the original purchaser and their system shows you as the original purchaser. I think how all of this plays out in the coming months is unknown. With the law only being temporary the carriers won't have any real incentive to standardize the process or make it very easy. I'd be surprise if any of us could buy an AT&T locked phone off of Swappa and easily get it unlocked. But maybe, we'll see. As to the limit question. I don't there will be a limit on the number of phones they'd unlock for you, but I do think they'd require the phone to be active on your AT&T account.

Didn't even realise it was illegal in the states. There are small shops everywhere in the UK that offer unlocking services and have done for years.

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If we all start buying unlocked development editions of the phones the carriers will start doing it willingly.

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Of we all start buying unlocked devices then it won't matter. Oh and Verizon and Spring would go out of business. So everyone wins.

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Welcome to the normal standard about unlocked phones. They shouldn't be locked in the first place. Never had any phone lock in Germany. Always unlocked. Like it suppose to be. But it ks only good until 2015 in the usa so meaning for a few months? Hmm what is even the sense in doing it then. It should be allowed without any timeframe.

OnePlusOne Special Edition

So, all I ever had to do was call then and say "I'm going overseas and need to use a local carrier service, please give me the unlock code for my phone," and the customer service people at AT&T gave it to me all 3 times I called in. I've never had any issues with them. Now, as far as their throttling my speeds... they suck...

I have a CDMA phone so it is pointless to unlock it. I think this can increase the resale value of some recent flagship phones that support both AT&T and T-Mobile 3G & LTE bands but most mid-range and low-end phones lack some band or another and will not function properly when used on a different carrier.

Also the fact this is just a temporary band-aid makes it snoozeville material.

I know this is an Android site but I thought I would pass along my iOS experience: I wanted to get a friend of mine onto my T-Mobile family plan. She was an iPhone user and had a Sprint iPhone 4 with the SIM unlocked for INTERNATIONAL use. I tried to contact Sprint to get them to unlock it, and was met with "We don't do that for that phone." This was even after the FCC got carriers to agree to unlock phones in December of last year. It turns out, for any phones that were sold before a certain date (I think it may be the date of the FCC agreement), Sprint does not consider the phone to be unlockable. You should see the forums with Sprint customers trying to get the customer service reps to unlock their phones; they are like a steroid-enhanced version of that Comcast customer service call that went viral.

I bought the $11 unlock code for my D850 G3 yesterday just because I'm a rebel.

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It's really not that big of a deal to me. With that being said I have always requested unlock codes from AT&T and never had any problem getting them. If you're having issues just tell them you're going to some country and you would prefer to use a carrier in that area to save money.

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the notion that these carriers won't care about said law is absolutely correct. As an attorney, I can say that they won't give a damn. Law or no law, they'll ignore it . however, one can file a suit in federal court and that will get you the attention of at&it's lawyers who WILL care, and they will negotiate a settlement, but filling ANYTHING in federal ct. is EXPENSIVE!!!! yore better off just buying an unlocked phone. This law just protects us from the phone companies trying to either sue, or have us prosecuted by the justice dept.
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So could I unlock my xperia z1s from tmobile or would I have to pay the phone off first since I'm on the "JUMP" program crap?

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Hey guys examples:

Can you unlock a Verizon phone and take it to ATT? My guess is no

Can you unlock a Tmobile phone and take it to Sprint? Wont work

I say this law work better for GSM companies not CDMA. And the problem for me in the past is that you bring a unlocked phone to Tmobile and ATT and I wont be able to pickup LTE. Whats the purpose for all of this?

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This needs to extend into all aspects of the phone. You should not have to root your phone to change settings and uninstall software as you wish.

Hi everyone, u guys r giving great Info but my? is I have gs4 from at&t to unlock it do I have to have the original some card??

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