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
113 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
113 months ago
Or ignore the law and get your phone unlocked for under $5......
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
newdeal Avatar
113 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
113 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
113 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
113 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)

Related Stories

youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
os x mountain lion macs 16x9 2

Apple Makes OS X Lion and Mountain Lion Free to Download

Wednesday June 30, 2021 12:19 pm PDT by
Apple recently dropped the $19.99 fee for OS X Lion and Mountain Lion, making the older Mac updates free to download, reports Macworld. Apple has kept OS X 10.7 Lion and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion available for customers who have machines limited to the older software, but until recently, Apple was charging $19.99 to get download codes for the updates. As of last week, these updates no...
bluetti eb70 main

MacRumors Giveaway: Win a Bluetti EB70 Portable Power Station and 200W Solar Panel

Friday September 3, 2021 11:13 am PDT by
For this week's giveaway, we've teamed up with MAXOAK to offer MacRumors readers a chance to win a Bluetti portable power station and an accompanying solar panel. Bluetti makes a range of portable power station options that are useful for camping, emergencies, power outages, off-grid living, and similar situations. The Bluetti EB70 is a solid middle of the road option that offers 716Wh and...
apple privacy

Apple Publishes FAQ to Address Concerns About CSAM Detection and Messages Scanning

Monday August 9, 2021 1:50 am PDT by
Apple has published a FAQ titled "Expanded Protections for Children" which aims to allay users' privacy concerns about the new CSAM detection in iCloud Photos and communication safety for Messages features that the company announced last week. "Since we announced these features, many stakeholders including privacy organizations and child safety organizations have expressed their support of...
General Spotify Feature

Spotify Pauses Plans to Add AirPlay 2 Support to iOS App [Update: Spotify Clarifies]

Friday August 6, 2021 9:07 am PDT by
See update at bottom of article Spotify this week confirmed that its plans to add AirPlay 2 support to its iOS app have been placed on indefinite hiatus. In an online discussion forum post, a Spotify representative said the streaming music service had been working on supporting AirPlay 2, but the company has paused the efforts "for now" due to "audio driver compatibility issues." The...
iphone 13 teal with text

Apple Begins Preparation for iPhone 13 Production Ahead of Fall Launch

Monday June 28, 2021 3:29 am PDT by
We're just a few months away from when Apple is expected to reveal the 2021 iPhone, dubbed the "iPhone 13." In preparation for its launch, it has been pulling in shipments of different components needed to produce the new iPhones, according to a report from DigiTimes. In years past, Apple released its latest iPhone lineup, alongside a new Apple Watch, during a September event at Apple Park....
General Spotify Feature

Spotify Partners With Delta to Provide Free In-Flight Music and Podcasts Service

Thursday September 2, 2021 12:59 am PDT by
Spotify has announced a new partnership with Delta that will see the streaming service take over the "audio" section of Delta's in-flight seatback entertainment, making select playlists and podcasts freely available to all passengers. You are now free to roam about the cabin—and get the music and podcasts you love at 30,000 feet. Beginning today, we're taking off in a new partnership with...
iphone 12 colors 2021

iPhone 12 Colors: Deciding on The Right Color

Thursday November 5, 2020 8:35 am PST by
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived in October 2020 in a range of color options, with entirely new hues available on both devices, as well as some popular classics. The 12 and 12 Pro have different color choices, so if you have your heart set on a particular shade, you might not be able to get your preferred model in that color. iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone...