FCC Will Investigate U.S. Mobile Phone Unlocking Ban

iphone_5_black_whiteCell phone unlocking in the United States became illegal in late January for new devices, prompting a White House petition urging the government to look into the issue.

The petition on the WeThePeople platform successfully garnered the 100,000 signatures necessary for an official White House response, and the backlash over the ban also caught the attention of the Federal Communications Commission.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told TechCrunch that the FCC will investigate to determine whether or not the ban results in harmful effects for consumers. The “ban raises competition concerns; it raises innovation concerns,” he said.

Genachowski isn't sure what authority he has, but if he finds any, given the tone of the conversation, it's likely he will exert his influence to reverse the decision. "It's something that we will look at at the FCC to see if we can and should enable consumers to use unlocked phones."

At this time it is illegal to unlock newly purchased cellular phones in the United States without express carrier permission. Devices purchased prior to January 26, 2013 may be unlocked and unlocked devices can be purchased at unsubsidized prices from cell phone carriers.

Top Rated Comments

Diode Avatar
145 months ago
Of course it harms competition. That's exactly why carriers do it.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nepalisherpa Avatar
145 months ago
And some said that online petitions do not work!
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WordMasterRice Avatar
145 months ago
Good, and after they unban this focus on more important issues. Priorities, government. Learn them.

Like what? This is what the FCC is for. Believe it or not, not everyone in government all works on everything. This guy doesn't discuss cell phone plans 1 week and go fight in Afghanistan the next.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cere Avatar
145 months ago
The "ban raises competition concerns; it raises innovation concerns"

In that cases, don't locks in general raise concerns about competition?

Exactly what purpose does a lock serve? It prevents you from using your phone as you choose and nothing else. It doesn't lock you into your contract. Your contract does that.

I see locks as this:
1) Restraint of trade. A lock is explicitly intended to prevent you from using your phone with another carrier. But why is this allowed? The phone is your property. You received a discount for which you agreed to enter into a lucrative, expensive contract. The lock goes above and beyond that and says ANY usage on the phone must go through your carrier. That is restraint of trade and interference
2) Racketeering. A racket is creating a problem and then charging money to solve that problem (I'll break you legs but won't if you pay me). A locked phone means you have no choice but to roam when traveling if you want to use your own phone. That's a problem. Solution: pay your carrier their prepaid roaming packages rates.

So what new competitive problems come up by banning unlocks that don't already exist simply by allowing locks?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Joe-Diver Avatar
145 months ago
Investigate away! I'm glad the petition got the sigs it needed.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MagnusVonMagnum Avatar
145 months ago
Perfect example of when too much government regulations can hurt the people they're there to serve.
Given it's the DMCA that causes the issue, it's the DMCA that should be repealed. Good luck with that, though. Corporations lobbied HARD for it and as we all well know, the rights of the corporations outweigh the needs of the many.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

iOS 18 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Friday April 12, 2024 11:11 am PDT by
iOS 18 is expected to be the "biggest" update in the iPhone's history. Below, we recap rumored features and changes for the iPhone. iOS 18 is rumored to include new generative AI features for Siri and many apps, and Apple plans to add RCS support to the Messages app for an improved texting experience between iPhones and Android devices. The update is also expected to introduce a more...
iPhone 16 Camera Lozenge 2 Colors

iPhone 16 Plus Rumored to Come in These 7 Colors

Wednesday April 10, 2024 3:52 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone 16 Plus may come in seven colors that either build upon the existing five colors in the standard iPhone 15 lineup or recast them in a new finish, based on a new rumor out of China. According to the Weibo-based leaker Fixed focus digital, Apple's upcoming larger 6.7-inch iPhone 16 Plus model will come in the following colors, compared to the colors currently available for the...
apple silicon feature joeblue

Macs to Get AI-Focused M4 Chips Starting in Late 2024

Thursday April 11, 2024 10:10 am PDT by
Apple will begin updating its Mac lineup with M4 chips in late 2024, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The M4 chip will be focused on improving performance for artificial intelligence capabilities. Last year, Apple introduced the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max chips all at once in October, so it's possible we could see the M4 lineup come during the same time frame. Gurman says that the entire...
top stories 13apr2024

Top Stories: M4 Mac Roadmap Leaked, New iPads in Second Week of May, and More

Saturday April 13, 2024 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's hardware roadmap was in the news this week, with things hopefully firming up for a launch of updated iPad Pro and iPad Air models next month while we look ahead to the other iPad models and a full lineup of M4-based Macs arriving starting later this year. We also heard some fresh rumors about iOS 18, due to be unveiled at WWDC in a couple of months, while we took a look at how things ...
new best buy blue

Best Buy Opens Up Sitewide Sale With Record Low Prices on M3 MacBook Air, iPad, and Much More

Saturday April 13, 2024 7:41 am PDT by
Best Buy this weekend has a big sale on Apple MacBooks and iPads, including new all-time low prices on the M3 MacBook Air, alongside the best prices we've ever seen on MacBook Pro, iPad, and more. Some of these deals require a My Best Buy Plus or My Best Buy Total membership, which start at $49.99/year. In addition to exclusive access to select discounts, you'll get free 2-day shipping, an...