Unlocking Cellphones Illegal in the U.S. from tomorrow
Unlocking a phone becomes illegal in the United States from tomorrow (26 January).
Unlocking a phone frees it from restrictions that keep the device from working on more than one carrier’s network, allowing it run on other networks that use the same wireless standard.
What is interesting from the legal perspective is who will actually be breaking the law when unlocking a phone from tomorrow.
Is it the user who is getting their cellphone unlocked (whether paid or free) or is it the actual person/company who is performing the unlocking service?
There are a plethora of sites online that will unlock your phone for you for a price and similar in the real world. Walk down any high street and you will most certainly walk past a few mobile stores offering to unlock your mobile for you.
How this will affect carriers remains to be seen as if a user can’t unlock their phone they may be even more reluctant to purchase from the carrier.
Personally, I wonder how carriers could police this unless they have a way of detecting if your phone is still unlocked from the network end. If they can’t do this already, it would be relatively easy for them to do so if the phone were provided by themselves as it could just be added to the checks when a phone connects to the network – similar to the way networks check if a phone is blocked or not.
One way around it is to purchase a phone unlocked and out of contract and stick to a sim only plan with the carriers.
If that were to be adopted on a large scale it would be interesting to see how the carriers reacted to the lost sales in subsidised phones.