Apple’s market leading iPhone eyed by small U.S. carriers backing unlocked devices

“Small wireless carriers see a new path to scoring users of Apple Inc.’s iPhone and other popular handsets: the legalization of unlocking mobile devices,” Eric Engleman reports for Bloomberg.

“Regional and rural wireless providers are backing several bills in Congress that would let consumers unlock mobile phones and tablet computers without carriers’ permission,” Engleman reports. “Big phone companies often land exclusive rights to offer the hottest devices, and U.S. rules currently prohibit altering software to let new phones from one carrier to work on other networks. ‘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. 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.'”

Engleman reports, “The Washington-based trade group is seeking to undo a Library of Congress decision, backed by largest U.S. mobile providers Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc., barring consumers from unlocking their handsets without their carrier’s approval. The rules change, which took effect Jan. 26, reversed an earlier exemption under copyright law. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, and Charles Grassley of Iowa, the panel’s top Republican, introduced a bill March 11 to overturn the Library of Congress’s decision and direct the agency to consider adding tablet computers to devices that consumers can unlock… House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, and John Conyers of Michigan, the panel’s top Democrat, have also announced plans to sponsor such legislation.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Bipartisan bill in U.S. Senate would allow users to legally unlock their smartphones – March 12, 2013
AT&T Mobility: Yes, we’ll unlock your iPhone at end of contract – March 9, 2013
Obama administration: It’s time to legalize cellphone unlocking – March 4, 2013
U.S. government makes iPhone jailbreaking, unlocking legal – July 26, 2010


  1. This law legitimizes what people have been doing for years, fairly easily without “jail-breaking.” It’s why an old iPhone 3gs in decent condition still gets $150-$200 on eBay. The originating carrier should also be required to unlock the off-contract phone for the customer, upon request.

    I predict that more people will start using old iPhones with cheap “pre-paid” services.

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