T-Mobile Releases Statement Regarding DMCA Phone Unlocking Restrictions


With the clock ticking toward the January 26th DMCA deadline for unlocked phones, T-Mobile has released a statement indicating their position. This is an unfortunate kink in T-Mobile’s “bring your own phone” campaign and one that will hopefully be rectified soon. Unfortunately, T-Mobile must adhere to the letter of the law and advises customers to contact the device manufacturer or AT&T directly to request the unlock code for any device they wish to use with a SIM card and T-Mobile Value Plan

Fingers crossed this ridiculous law only stays put until someone can wake up whoever thought this was a good idea.

Increasingly consumers are looking for choice and flexibility in the way they purchase wireless. They want the freedom to bring their own device without having to compromise on value, which is why we will continue to make it easy for consumers to bring unlocked, GSM-compatible devices to T-Mobile.

T-Mobile recommends customers contact the device manufacturer or AT&T directly to request the unlock code for their device. Customers would then purchase a SIM card, select a T-Mobile SIM card only Value plan that suits their needs and T-Mobile will help the customer configure their device for its network. T-Mobile offers step-by-step instructions at retail and on the T-Mobile customer support forums online.

For more information on T-Mobile’s Bring Your Own Phone program, visit: http://explore.t-mobile.com/phone-sim-card#sim

For information on T-Mobile’s SIM Subsidy Unlock Code policy, visit: http://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-1588

For more information regarding the new DMCA exemption rules, please contact CTIA at ctiamedrel@ctia.org  

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  • alfonzso

    Obviously, this law was put into place by the same corrupt Congress members that are on AT&Ts payroll and who voted for the merger last year.

    • fsured

      Yep, sounds like At&t and probably Apple had their lobbying groups earning their pay.

      • MacRat

        Apple doesn’t care which carrier you use an iPhone on.

        You can even buy iPhones unlocked directly from Apple’s online store.

        Only carriers want phones to be locked.

        • AndroidProfit

          This forum is full of mentally ill people who see Apple as some sort of threat to them personally. An inanimate object!

        • eagle55

          Robert, when they refer to Apple, they are referring to the not “inanimate” people who run it and take the decisions that are at issue. Unfortunately, we can’t chalk up your lack of understanding of this basic fact to being “mentally ill” – you are clearly mentally deficient.

        • ant

          right lmao only verizon,at&t,sprint would b not happy about unlocked phones because that mean no guaranteed money from u for 2years n hopefully more if u upgrade or get more lines

        • Brett562


      • philyew

        The main advocate in favor of reestablishing more restrictive rules on device unlocking seems to have been the CTIA, the carriers’ trade association, of which all the big carriers and device vendors are members.

        Unfortunately, the platform for this decision is the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act which established device locking rights (among many other wide-reaching measures), with a mechanism for exemptions (overseen by the Librarian of Congress), but with a three-year review cycle on those exemptions where the consideration must be made “de novo”, i.e. from the base premise that a prohibition is legally sound, and exemptions must be justified.

        The problem, therefore, is that the base presumption – that is fundamentally correct for carriers to lock devices to their networks – is never properly tested in each of these reviews, instead it is up to advocates of open use to justify why further exemptions will not damage the interests of the carriers.

        If the CTIA response, filed in February 2012, is anything to go by, the case for continued exemptions was not very well represented last year, so it shouldn’t be surprising that we have reached this position.

        Part of the CTIA’s supporting argument was that the main carriers each offer “reasonable” device unlocking provisions that obviate the need for any alternative routes to be exempted. By way of example, they directly cited the unlocking policies of TM, AT&T and provided a link to Verizon’s customer agreements page (which doesn’t work today).

        In the absence of a legal challenge to this ruling, which will probably be extremely difficult to mount because of the original structure of the DMCA, consumers need to make sure that the carriers’ main selling principle – that they already offer reasonable unlocking services – is not diluted or subverted in any way.

      • Brett562

        What a goof ball statement when AT&T will unlock your phone if you are in good standing and out of contract for FREE

    • Guest911

      Didnt take long for the moron brigade to come out!

      • Glad to see you are accounted for in that regard.

        • Guest911

          Oh jamilla, you are back! Missed your stupidity here. Welcome.

        • Said the person who misspelled my name when there is a thing called spell check and another thing called using your eyes to visually see the name above the comment and if you can’t read or comprehend correctly then maybe you shouldn’t be posting comments on a comment board. That is just genuine stupidity on your part.

        • AndroidProfit

          Weak sauce

        • eagle55

          Robert, are you referring to your ED problem?

      • Brett562

        So why did you comment

    • Wilma Flintstone

      yet the same “merger” happened for Tmobile and Metro and we were all for it….

      I agree though, it probably was the same dunce in office that dealt with the Tmo/ATT “Merger” deal.
      Something has to be done about the numbnuts we put into office.

      • Brett562

        Wrong the digital millennium act was put into place in 1998 and I’m no math genius but that’s like many years before the merger

        • Scott

          DCMA was never intended for phones. The laws were written to protect music and film. These unlock laws have been made by fiat by potentially corrupt politicians. The issue here is gov. officials have decided to encompass phones into a law it never intended.

          This is the problem with politicians and open ended laws.

  • tmosalesdude

    This is going to negatively impact my paycheck from tmobile

  • bigk1

    It may impact sales but in general people will still jailbreak and unlock their iphones legitimately and not so legitimately like they did prior to it being legal.

    Human nature says it will still happen. T-Mobile never unlocked iphones for customers previously.

    Within the next few months magenta should start to sell it for themselves.

  • voiceofreason

    Why people think this useless law is such a big deal? Nobody will enforce it! I know this is America, and people are hung up on following all the laws, but this one can’t be enforced – so do as you wish!

    • fsured

      I see what you are saying and it won’t stop people from rooting their device and installing roms. But what if the carriers put a program on the devices that is part of the reception abilities of the phone OS? People don’t get over the air updates because the tracking software is disabled or missing in roms. They could change that software to be required authorize the device to work on the network. By unlocking it would remove the programs and that phone won’t connect. Anything may be possible if companies really try to enforce it.

      • trevb87

        the law isn’t about rooting and jailbreaking…it’s about Carrier unlocking your phone. you can still legally root.jailbreak your phone, you just cant unlock it and take it to a different carrier, without the carriers saying its ok (legally that is)

        • philyew

          According to the article yesterday, and the coverage when this change was actually implemented last October, it was about modifying installed, copyrighted software even more than simply unlocking devices. The driver is the Digital Millennium COPYRIGHT Act. Unofficial unlocking can only be done by making modifications to the installed software, which is what makes it illegal.

    • MacRat

      Laws like this are used to make an “example” out of someone sooner or later.

    • AndroidProfit

      If you are hung up on following laws it sounds like you have self control issues

  • psaux

    Before you vote this down, think about the economics of this …
    When you consider the degree of subsidy most carriers have, this makes some degree of sense. They’ve taken a fair bit of the invoice price of the phone and amortized it over many future payments in most cases.

    Here’s how I think it should work… Unlocking should be restricted, but you should get the unlock code automatically when 1 of 3 conditions are met:

    1) You buy your phone outright, with no subsidy or have completed any installment plan payments.

    2) You serve out the length of your original contract.

    3) You pay an ETF.

    Until one of those things occur, it makes sense for the carrier to expect your handset to be pegged to them. It’s not a NICE thing, but it’d be at least fair to give them that.

    Now, on the other hand, there should be a mechanism to compel carriers to grant the unlocks when one of the above conditions is met. If any of those happen, the phone should be yours, free and clear.

    • chris125

      Well if you left mid contract you would have to pay the etf still no reason anyone needs this law. Just a way that they will try and charge money to unlock the phones which should come unlocked from the start.

      • psaux

        My intent is just that it makes sense for them to be allowed to hold a lock on the phone until you own it outright.

        • I would agree that until a subsidized phone’s contract is satisfied, the carrier has a justifiable interest in making sure the phone stays on it’s network. But I haven’t read anything in this law pertaining to AFTER a phone is fully paid for. Is it still illegal to unlock? If so, than that’s a problem. If I pay for a device in full, it should then be mine to do with what I please. I’m about to take two (fully paid for) world-phones from Verizon to T-Mobile, and I requested the unlock codes from Verizon a few weeks ago. They complained, but eventually provided them. Unless I’m missing something, even this completely legitimate action would be illegal now (or more accurately, tomorrow)

        • superdry

          Would it be illegal? Assuming Verizon was your carrier, you asked and they obliged (I thought the whole thing is that you now have to ask permission from your carrier before you can unlock the phone). Now, if you bought them full-price or used and Verizon is not your carrier, then, it should be fine since you’re not bound to a carrier and you asked Verizon to get the phones you bought unlocked.

        • galaxymaniac

          Hi, this is Randall Stephenson’s secretary – your check is in the mail.

        • AndroidProfit

          Your retarded comment MIGHT be funny if this dopey blog had any affect on anything

        • Oh Robert, you crack me up.

        • eagle55

          Robert, learn grammar and spelling first – go check out the difference b/w affect and effect. Loser!

        • jujubean

          if you have a contract tied to a phone you unlocked, then go to another carrier, original carrier is still getting money from the consumer unless consumer pays ETF. And with consumer on another carrier, one less consumer bogging down data and using their airtime. which equals money for the carrier without the carrier having to maintain device on their network

    • philyew

      Nothing should be done to discourage carriers like TM from their current policy of unlocking devices for customers in good standing, after a minimal period of ownership.

      They have a right to expect me to clear the subsidy, but that is what the ETF is for in large part.

      What they don’t have a right to expect is that I pay ludicrously high roaming charges when overseas, including $15/mb for data use.

      TM recognize this and will unlock a phone even with almost a full contract term to go. Long may they continue doing this.

    • The Economics is… Carriers are greedy…. We pay maybe 3 times what the device is worth when everything is said and done.

      This is actually a war on the used cell phone market.

      Carriers have way too much control especially if you aren’t running a gsm device.

      Used devices are why carriers aren’t making much, buy 1 device sell it off for every 1 device sold from the store it can pass as many as 10 or more people meaning 10 less people paying the MANUFACTURER or CARRIER.

      The way it should work is if you buy the device the hardware is yours thus the ability to use it upon any carrier of your choice is yours because it is your device. Some people have more than 1 cell phone service and some people can have 2 sim cards in foreign countries phones have dual sim ability so that a person can have the choice between 2 networks in realtime without the need to constantly swap devices out. USA does not have Dual-Sim hardware so having the ability to unlock your device would be great seeing as you wouldn’t have to use it for that carrier.

      • Even if I buy a used device I still have to pay a carrier for service. The carrier should be happy that I didn’t opt for a subsidized device to run on their network. They still get to charge me the same exorbitant rates.

        • WW

          T-Mobile won’t get to charge that exorbitant rate since they’re moving toward 100% unsubsidized plans.

        • Well not necessarily, you can use the device as a wifi device and completely avoid carrier charges. Aside from that yeah any other carrier besides tmo will charge the same thing regardless. This policy is going to mess up t-mos chances of bouncing back even if they do offer the iphone on the network later on in the year.

      • Guest911

        Blah blah. Quit yapping.

        • Awe is baby upset? Well I guess thats just too bad for you.

      • WW

        You have some good points but by calling carriers (or businesses in general) “greedy” you just turn your argument into an hysterical rant.

        Businesses, are around to make a profit. That’s like calling an individual greedy because they work to make more than just enough to cover their living expenses.

        • Ok most BIG carriers then and that is absolutely understandable but there has to be a stopping point to how much they take from us. I mean for some people a phone is like having a car payment! I mean the services, the hardware, if you buy the hardware why should you be tied down to using it on the carrier it came from? Thats like buying a car from a dealership and them telling you that you can only fill the car with gas from their station that charges $4.50/gallon because you bought it from us.

    • Mike

      I see what you are saying, but I do not mind buying a phone outright, but then AT&T should give me a discounted rate on my plan since they are not subsidizing anything. So until AT&T offers a discount, then I don’t agree with this policy.

  • neo95
  • nick

    Lol they really think they can stop us.

  • neo95
  • userjoe9066

    This is going to be about as effective as the war on piracy. What a waste of resources.

  • Trevnerdio

    AT&T has enormous lobbying power, this was definitely their doing.

    • Brett562

      So your saying AT&T had the digital millennium act put in place in 1998 so in 2013 they could do this. Get a clue

      • Trevnerdio

        Yeah, because let me tell you how they lobby for every single piece of legislation. You, my friend, should get a clue.

  • Jak Crow

    In other words, T-Mobile is taking the chicken shit way out and not filing a law suit like they should against this absurd rule.

    • philyew

      How are they infringed upon to justify filing a suit?

      Nothing stops them from attaching a device to their network once unlocked. All that has happened is that they now stress potential customers from other carriers need to ask that carrier to unlock their device, so that they (TM) aren’t perceived to be inducing people to break the law.

  • Mirad77

    Isn’t this directed to those with phones that are not factory unlocked? As if you buy your phone factory unlocked then I don’t see any law that makes using your phone illegal.

  • LuvTMO

    Good thing for Nexus 4. Now the demand goes up…

    • kev2684

      demand up but supply is non-existent. this is only good for ebay retailers not consumers.

  • NardVa

    The same people that don’t download music illegally will follow this stupid unlock law. Everybody else will do as they please.

    • Spanky

      Two completely different things. Downloading music illegally is taking it for free. However, the phones are paid for.

  • TechHog

    Putting corporations before consumer rights? ‘MURICA

  • Bill Smith

    Its kind of funny that in some countries Sim-locking is illegal!

  • bisayan

    I finaly got a 3g speed in my unlocked iphone 4 for the first time here in waukegan Illinois! so happy that 1900 has starting to spreed out…lets go TMO!

  • Sailingwindward

    “T-Mobile must adhere to the letter of the law”
    Interesting that wasn’t T-Molbile’s or any other telecoms position when they violated federal by giving the government private information on its customers after 911. They all later paid off congress to give them immunity from its customers lawsuits.




    Make Unlocking Cell Phones Legal.

  • Sammy
  • Weston Dunn

    Companies like infinitycodes.com have purchased access to databases from carriers to provide unlock services. You can still use those companies to get your phone unlocked because they have an agreement with the carriers.

  • Tulio M. Mesa


    theres a petition going around, if you really dont like this law go hit like and click the petition link! spread the word let your voices be heard! need 100k signs!

  • Even before it was “illegal” according to the library of congress there was a thriving unlocking business that existed. It will continue to exist after January 26th when the indecisive library of congress makes another decision to make it illegal or legal to unlock your phone. It should always be legal to unlock your phone especially after you’ve paid your dues for the subsidy. No one ever complains about the companies (carriers) continuing to factor into the price of their plans the subsidy that’s already been paid and continues to charge the same rate for services even after the subsidy is repaid.

  • This world………..

  • … There is a bigger picture, and larger motive here. They don’t want you unlocking your device for many reasons, none of which have nothing to do with carrier functions or even manufacture procedures. Again..hurt them where it hurts their pockets. “The new galaxy s4..etc.” is it unlocked and allow the SMALL few who want to personalize there device do so out the box? I get it carriers use bloat ware to cut cost spam us and advertise just like computers come with pre installed software, the difference is we can easily remove what we don’t want, it only makes sense. Carriers should really only provide network access and want people to pay for there services and usage not care who has deleted bloatware from there device by rooting, and it’s even easier for manufacturers..do you think Samsung cares if a person buys a 80 in tv and only watches dvd movies and doesn’t hook it to cable or satellite ? Consumers have more power than we give ourselves credit for. I refuse to buy another device until the market changes and I refuse to sign a contract until pricing changes….note two and $30 plan will have to do. I’m usually always near a house phone, wifi for Google voice, or shit what happened to handling business face to face, and at .10 a minute I rather do that then be tied to crap. Sure it may be inconvenient but somebody has to do it…why won’t I upgrade or sign up they say? Because you’re still practicing the same bull

  • therealmikebrown

    Seems like this is what they will use to go after people teathering w/o teathering plans. Since you have to be rooted ti do it.

  • harry

    Lmao there goes that ad campaign

  • tricky2000

    How is the “bring your own phone” policy going to effect T-mobile’s WiFi calling feature? Obviously generic unlocked phones and unlocked phones from other carriers are not going to support WiFi calling. At some point are they going to release a WiFi calling app that can be downloaded on to a “bring your own phone?”

  • ceegii63

    ok so if i buy a FULL PRICE ATT LUMIA 920 or a PREPAID Tmobile LG L9, does it mean i cant get it unlocked or does the law cover only phones that came with a 24month/2year contract?

    i havent really found an answer for full price and prepaid phones

    • 21stNow

      Speaking for the Lumia 920 or any other AT&T exclusive phone, AT&T usually won’t unlock them for a while. The Lumia 900 wasn’t unlocked for the first six months and most third-party unlocking services couldn’t unlock it either. This was the case whether on contract or a no-commitment purchase.

      I have unlocked other phones through third-parties that AT&T claimed were exclusive but were not, such as the Galaxy S III.

  • merica

    This is too funny due to the fact that almost any jailbreak gives you the option to unlock from carrier as well, the same option is there for the people who know how to do so on android once rooted….stop me from sharing music, I stop buying music, same premise applies here, I HAVE THE RIGHT to do what I damn well please with a product i own, law or not, you arrest me over modifying something I own and I make sure my I keep your lawyers busy for a few years

  • GS3

    so before all this, people were buying iphones and unlocking them themselves and then use them on tmobile… now , if someone still did that , unlocked his phone through jailbreak or whatever… how would ATT or Apple know that your iphone is unlocked and being used on Tmobile ? i’ve always thought that when you bought a phone from Apple , their iphones are unlocked already and can be used on any GSM network? or if you got an iphone from ATT, they are the only one who can unlock it if you don’t jailbreak your phone? i don’t understand the point of this “law”.. i’m probably missing something.. i’m just not as geeky as before.. LOL

  • GS3

    i also think it’s too much to prevent people from doing what they want to do with their devices, worst to make a law against it when people paid for them.. it’s like corporations are the government nowadays.. LOL

  • AllThingsReviewed215

    Just buy a unbranded device. Problem solved.

  • Razzle513

    Sign the whitehouse petition to make all unlocking legal! https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/make-unlocking-cell-phones-legal/1g9KhZG7