Unlock your cell phone

Cell unlocking is now easier than ever, but is anyone going to do it?

A bill has been passed that will once again make cell phone unlocking legal and easy for people who don't want their several-hundred dollar piece of equipment forced to use a particular carrier. As Chris explained late last week, this law is one of those that needs examined and evaluated by lawmakers every few years, as it's technically covered under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. That sounds a bit silly, but that debate is best left for another time. We're here to ask how many of us are really going to do it?

For those who just don't get all this mess, in the U.S. most phones bought from a carrier — whether in person or online — usually have software that only allows the phone to be used on that particular network. This applies even if you paid full-price for the phone, and even when you have finished any multi-yearly contractual obligation to the carrier. In reality, it doesn't affect most people. You use the carrier you use because they offer an acceptable level of service when compared to the monthly payments you give them. We're the first to say that switching your phone carrier isn't something to take lightly, and there's probably a reason you went with the carrier you're using in the first place.

But phones aren't cheap. Once you've pulled a stack of money out of your wallet and put it into someone else's, you really should be able to use your equipment anywhere that it will work. That's where cell unlocking comes in. It's something you can have your carrier do, or now that it's legal again, something you can pay a third party to do for you. This can be handy if you want to take a trip outside the country, or if you have no contract and want to give someone else a try. Or just want to know that you could do either of these things any time you wanted to do them.

So who is doing it? See the poll below, or look for it on the homepage in the right sidebar. Speak up and tell us all if you're unlocking (or already have unlocked) your phone.