Regional U.S. Carriers Back Efforts to Ease Mobile Phone Unlocking in Bid to Draw iPhone Users

iphone_5_black_whiteBloomberg reports that regional and rural carriers in the United States are banding together to back legislative efforts to ease the unlocking of mobile phones. Unsurprisingly, the smaller carriers see unlocking as a key way to attract new customers and gain access to the most popular handsets such as the iPhone.

“Smaller carriers have a very difficult time getting access to smartphones and handsets,” said Steven Berry, president of the Competitive Carriers Association, which represents such companies as U.S. Cellular Corp. (USM) and Bluegrass Cellular. “The unlocking is one way the consumer can make the decision that I can try someone else who has better coverage in the area where I live or play.”

Unauthorized unlocking of newly purchased mobile phones became illegal in the U.S. as of late January, but the White House has backed an effort to address the issue and Congress has begun putting forward bills that would clear the way for broader unlocking abilities.

AT&T has made clear that the ruling against unauthorized unlocking has very little impact on its customers, as the carrier's current policy is to unlock any device that is no longer under contract and for which the customer's account has been active for at least 60 days and carries no balance due. Current efforts, however, seek to loosen unlocking restrictions more uniformly across carriers.

Apple has made significant strides in extending iPhone availability to smaller U.S. carriers over the past several years, with 18 carriers now offering the device. Many more are undoubtedly interested in joining that group, and making it easier for customers to bring their out-of-contract iPhones to new carriers would likely help these carriers bring more of these customers onboard.

Top Rated Comments

calisurfboy Avatar
103 months ago
When I pick up a phone that is locked, it comes at a discounted rate. I am explained that the phone company gives me a two year loan and that over the course of my two year contract, I pay back that loan. After those two years are up, does my bill go down because I am done paying off the loan, which is the phone, and left only paying for service?

No.

It doesn't matter if you have a subsidized phone or an unlocked phone, you still pay the same bill.

Telecommunications, including the cable industry, absolutely suck.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kevinpdoyle Avatar
103 months ago
Or ignore the law and get your phone unlocked for under $5......
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
newdeal Avatar
103 months ago
I think it should be illegal for carriers to lock phones at all. Once they have you locked into a contract that should be good enough, I have agreed to pay you your money to pay off the subsidy, why should I have to agree to anything beyond that such as not using it on another carrier if I chose to.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Radio Avatar
103 months ago
How about leave our iphones unlocked so we can use other country SIMs while visiting?

being locked into At&t's international plan is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ :(
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Shanpdx Avatar
103 months ago
Make Unlock mandatory from the get go

since we are already signed the contract and have to pay ETF of anywhere around $350.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
aggierob Avatar
103 months ago
does AT&T want to be Globalization friendly?

Dear AT&T,

1) Learn from Verizon, I'm legally obligated to pay you for 2 years, good. Who cares if I'm using another carrier's SIM? I'm going to do that when I'm traveling INTERNATIONALLY, not in the USA, where I'm already paying you, and going to use your LTE network. (And if someone did use T-mo for example, wouldn't you have less stress on your network?)

2) If you're concerned that (subsidized price + ETF) < cost of iPhone, consider raising ETF so that (subsidized + ETF*) = cost of iPhone or heaven forbid = a month more of contract. That's not the biggest problem! My reasoning is back to point number 1.

3) Good job on keeping a better option on plans than Verizon with the single-line data options.

Loyal Customer since (AT&T Wirless pre-Cingular acquisition)
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

16inchmacbookpromain

Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models to Feature Flat-Edged Design, MagSafe, No Touch Bar and More Ports

Thursday January 14, 2021 9:32 pm PST by
Apple is working on two new MacBook Pro models that will feature significant design changes, well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a note to investors that was obtained by MacRumors. According to Kuo, Apple is developing two models in 14 and 16-inch size options. The new MacBook Pro machines will feature a flat-edged design, which Kuo describes as "similar to the iPhone 12" ...
iphone x camera close

iOS 14.4 Will Introduce Warning on iPhones With Non-Genuine Cameras

Thursday January 14, 2021 8:07 am PST by
In the second beta of iOS 14.4 seeded to developers and public testers this week, MacRumors contributor Steve Moser has discovered code indicating that Apple will be introducing a new warning on iPhones that have had their camera repaired or replaced with aftermarket components rather than genuine Apple components. "Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple camera," the message will...
prototype iphone 12 pro

Prototype iPhone 12 Pro Shown Off in Photos

Wednesday January 13, 2021 3:39 pm PST by
Developer Giulio Zompetti, who often shows off prototype versions of Apple devices, today highlighted a prototype version of the iPhone 12 Pro. The iPhone 12 Pro is running an operating system called SwitchBoard, a nonUI version of the iOS 14 update that Apple uses internally. We've seen SwitchBoard on prototype devices before, as Apple uses it to test new features. Zompetti's prototype...
foldable iPhone concept feature

Apple Testing In-Display Fingerprint Sensor for iPhone 13, Foldable iPhone Also in the Works

Friday January 15, 2021 1:46 pm PST by
Apple has started "early work" on an iPhone that has a foldable display, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Though testing of a foldable iPhone has begun, Apple has not committed to releasing a device that has a foldable display. Development has not yet expanded beyond a display and Apple does not have full foldable iPhone prototypes in its labs. Like foldable...
Apple TV Ray Light 2 Triad

Apple Extends Free Apple TV+ Trials Until July

Friday January 15, 2021 10:50 am PST by
Apple is once again planning to extend its free Apple TV+ trial subscriptions, this time until July. When Apple TV+ launched in November 2019, Apple offered free Apple TV+ subscriptions to those who purchased a new Apple device in or after September 2019. Those free subscriptions were set to expire in November 2020, but in October 2020, Apple announced that it was extending free trials...
macbook pro 16 inch thunderbolt

Bloomberg: Next-Generation MacBook Pro to Offer Improved Displays, Faster Charging Over MagSafe

Thursday January 14, 2021 11:36 pm PST by
Following today's report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo outlining major changes for the next-generation MacBook Pro models coming in the third quarter of this year, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has weighed in with his own report corroborating some of the details but seemingly differing a bit on others. First, Gurman shares more details on the return of MagSafe charging to the MacBook Pro, indicating...
Hue module dimmer switch

Philips Hue Announces New Wall Switch Module, Dimmer Switch, and Outdoor Light Bar

Thursday January 14, 2021 3:11 am PST by
Philips Hue has announced a new wireless dimmer switch module that lets Hue bridge owners directly control the smart lighting from their standard wall switches. The new Philips Hue wall switch module is the ideal addition to any Philips Hue set up. Installed behind existing light switches, it allows users to turn their existing switch into a smart switch and ensures their smart lighting is...
pat gelsinger intel

Incoming Intel CEO Derides Company's Inability to 'Deliver Better Products' Than Apple's M1 Chip

Friday January 15, 2021 6:17 am PST by
Incoming Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has said that the company must "deliver better products" than Apple, which he described as a "lifestyle company," and says that Intel's best days are "in front of it" (via The Oregonian). Speaking at an Intel all-hands meeting yesterday, Gelsinger derisively implied that Apple is merely a "lifestyle company," so Intel must be able to surpass its technology: ...
mac pro mini feature

Apple Working on Two New Mac Pro Desktops, One of Which Will Be Reminiscent of Power Mac G4 Cube

Friday January 15, 2021 10:23 am PST by
Apple is developing two versions of the Mac Pro to succeed the Mac Pro that was first released in December 2019, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The first updated Mac Pro is a direct successor to the current Mac Pro and it will use the same design. It may also be equipped with Intel processors rather than Apple silicon chips, and it could be one of the sole machines in the Mac...
pioneer carplay wc5700nex

The Best Apple-Related Accessories at CES 2021

Wednesday January 13, 2021 1:16 pm PST by
CES 2021 is taking place digitally this year, and it hasn't been as exciting as in past years because many vendors have opted out. That said, some companies are still showing off some interesting Apple-related accessories that are coming out this year and that will be of interest to Mac, iPad, and iPhone users. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Pioneer Wireless...