FCC and White House Agree SIM Unlocking Should be Legal; What Does this mean for consumers?

Lately we've talked a lot about SIM unlocking becoming illegal here in the US. Which isn't particularly a big deal, unless customers want to travel to another country and use their phone there. There was a petition to get the White House to acknowledge this new law and get SIM unlocking legal again. Well the White House and FCC chair agreed that it should be legal. In fact here's what R. David Edelman, who is the Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation & Privacy had to say on the matter:

The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties. In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones. And if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren't bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network. It's common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers' needs.

This is particularly important for secondhand or other mobile devices that you might buy or receive as a gift, and want to activate on the wireless network that meets your needs -- even if it isn't the one on which the device was first activated. All consumers deserve that flexibility.

What does this mean for Consumers?

Well it basically means, they are going to look into making it legal again or if it should stay illegal. We don't know how long it'll take for the White House to make SIM unlocking legal or keep it illegal, but hopefully it happens soon. Now it's also important we talk about what SIM unlocking is. Many people are thinking it's simply unlocking the bootloader, when that is not against the law at all. Unlocking your SIM card is basically unlocking the Galaxy Note 2 you bought from AT&T, so you can pop in a SIM from another carrier like T-Mobile or Straight Talk. Which is illegal under DMCA now. But if you call up your carrier you can easy get the unlock code as long as you aren't behind in payments. Carriers are usually pretty good about that type of stuff.

There's also another alternative. You can buy unlocked GSM Phones which are already SIM unlocked and can be used on just about any GSM carrier including AT&T, T-Mobile, Straight Talk, Simple Mobile Solavei, and many others. These include phones like the Nexus 4, and ones you can purchase from Negri Electronics, Expansys and GSMNation. Sure you'll be paying full price but with T-Mobile's new plans, you'll be paying a lot less per month.

Do you think SIM Unlocking should be illegal? I don't think it should be, but why SIM unlock your phone if you aren't going to be switching carriers? It's kind of double-edged sword, but let us know in the comments below what you think of this. And props to the White House for responding so quickly.

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Alexander Maxham

Section Editor
Alex has written for Androidheadlines since 2012 as Editor of the site and traveled the World to many of the biggest Smartphone and Technology events. Alex has a background in Technology and IT and Deep Passion for Everything Android and Google. His specialties lay in Smartphones of all budgets, Accessories, Home Automation and more. Contact him at [email protected]
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