Every now and again we are all tempted by the dark side, and if there was ever a temptation for me this would be it. I am a tech guy through and through, and I work in the mobile industry. So I can’t say I would mind if every mobile carrier allowed us to both unlock and use unlocked devices on their networks, or even better so do it for us. After all, these devices are ours, we pay for them … over and over again.
But I am torn, as much as I’d like to believe that this is a “good idea”, I’m not convinced that this falls within the powers we have granted the government. While the device I am using is mine, the network is still owned by the carrier, and what they say goes … for now. But I have a hard time seeing this as anything other than further intrusion into private industry.
As nerds rejoice all over the interwebz, I have to point out that if you are currently with a provider that does not allow for unlocked phones on their network YOU CAN LEAVE! There are alternative providers out there that already allow for this, T-Mobile’s “Straight Talk” allows you to BYOD (bring your own device). As does Net10, Metro PCS, and many others. If people were really that upset, and wanted this option they would move to a carrier that allowed it. That’s kinda how the free market is supposed to work.
Phone unlocking to be ‘expeditious and transparent,’ while not affecting service contracts
The Obama administration, by way of the NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration), today officially petitioned the FCC to voice its opinion that carriers should be required unlock customer’s phones. The petition cuts right to the point, stating that US consumers should be able to request that their phone, tablet or other device be unlocked — and have it done free of charge and with no strings attached.
“Americans should be able to use their mobile devices on whatever networks they choose and have their devices unlocked without hassle.”
Said NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling, going further to say that the burden of handling unlocking should be put on the carrier, not the users, and that the process should be “expeditious and transparent.” A Library of Congress decision regarding the DMCA took the ability for consumers to legally unlock their phones last year, and this petition hopes to secure these rights outside of that act.
The NTIA claims that carriers have plenty of mechanisms for keeping customers on their networks and following their rules, regardless of ability to unlock a handset and take it to a competitor. And we can likely all agree that this is the case, as unlocking a phone doesn’t change the fact that you may still be in a service contract with that carrier.
Although this is a great step in the direction of consumers having control over their devices, it’s up to the FCC to create the framework for this to happen. The NTIA is hoping to get the ball rolling though, stating:
“The petition requests that the FCC immediately initiate the process of setting rules that protect Americans’ investments in mobile devices by allowing them to use their equipment with any compatible network.”
The Obama administration has seemed to stay on the side of consumers with previous statements on this matter, but we have to hope that the FCC can set a strong framework to make sure carriers not only are required to unlock phones but are also held accountable for following the laws. As we all know,carriers don’t always follow through on FCC requirements to be open with devices.