As you probably know, phones bought directly from carriers in most cases are locked to their service to prevent customers from using devices on different networks. It’s not an issue if you a devoted subscriber of your cell phone service provider. However, if you’re not satisfied with your service provider and want to try a different one, you have to buy a new phone because your current device becomes useless. Don’t worry, though, this problem just ceased to exist. As of now service providers in the US are obligated to unlock phones for free.
Free Phone Unlocking – Conditions.
As always, you will have to meet a few conditions to get your phone unlocked. First of all, if you have a post-paid handset, you will be able to unlock it when it’s entirely paid off or the service contract ends. Prepaid phones can be unlocked within a year of activation. These restriction don’t apply to military personnel who can have their phones unlocked regardless of payment status. Unlocking is free of charge for existing customers while everyone else will have to pay a “reasonable” fee.
Of course, handsets flagged as stolen, lost, or associated with fraudulent activity cannot be unlocked. Also, to unlock a phone released before February 2015 you will need a Master Subsidy Lock code from the carrier that prevents users from accessing certain settings of a phone. Devices launched from this month on will be capable of receiving an unlock command wirelessly over the network.
These new standards come as a result of an agreement made in December 2013 between US service providers and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. All US major carriers, that is AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, US Cellular and T-Mobile are a part of this arrangement and have already posted terms and conditions on their websites. According to the documentation, carriers have to unlock devices within two days after customers request, or initiate a request with the OEM to unlock the device, or explain to consumers why their device cannot be unlocked. Moreover, carriers have to notify customers when their phones are eligible for unlocking service.
For us, plain customers, the new policy means that switching carriers is now easier than ever without necessity of buying new phone. Of course, you have to make sure that the phone you have is paid off, but it’s really nothing compared to buying a new unlocked handset which, as you know, can cost a pretty penny.
more info: Sprint