New carrier phone unlock regulation active from today


Although the agreement made between carriers and the FCC was virtually finalized in 2013, carriers from today can’t say no to customer requests to unlock their phones. Providing they are no longer under contract, or have any installments to pay. Once unlocked, you’re free to use your handset on which ever compatible carrier your heart desires.

Up until now, carriers only had to meet three of six criteria set out in the agreement. Those were actioned on May 11th, last year.

Postpaid Unlocking Policy. Carriers, upon request, will unlock mobile wireless devices or provide the necessary information to unlock their devices for their customers and former customers in good standing and individual owners of eligible devices after the fulfillment of the applicable postpaid service contract, device financing plan, or payment of applicable early termination fee.

Prepaid Unlocking Policy. Carriers, upon request, will unlock prepaid mobile wireless devices no later than one year after initial activation, consistent with reasonable time, payment or usage requirements.

The deadline to comply with every aspect of the agreement passed today, which means that not only do carriers have to unlock your phone(s) on request, they also have to publish policies on their websites. You can find T-Mobile’s here. Getting one from T-Mo requires that you contact the carrier’s customer service department.

It’s been an interesting development. First off, unlocking your phone was seen as a breach of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Then, it became legal (again). And now, carrier’s have to unlock your phone if you ask. They can’t turn you down.

T-Mobile provides device unlock codes free of charge within two business days providing your device meets the following criteria:

Device eligibility is determined as follows:

  • The device must be a T-Mobile device.
  • The device must not be reported as lost, stolen or blocked to T-Mobile.
  • The account associated with the device must be in good standing.
  • You have requested no more than 2 mobile device unlock codes per line of service in the last 12 months.
  • The device must satisfy all the Postpaid or Pay in Advance (Prepaid) Unlocking terms outlined below.
  • You may need a non-T-Mobile and non-MetroPCS SIM card to insert in the phone.

Unlock eligibility for monthly phones, tablets and mobile internet devices

  • The device must have been active on the T-Mobile network for at least 40 days on the requesting line.
  • If the device is financed using T-Mobile‚Äôs Equipment Installment Plan (EIP), all payments must be satisfied and the device must be paid in full.
  • If the device is on an account that is under a service contract term, at least 18 consecutive monthly payments must have been made or the account has migrated to Simple Choice no contract rate plan.
  • If the device is associated with a canceled account, the account balance must be zero, including all pending charges
  • T-Mobile may request proof of purchase or additional information in its discretion and certain other exceptions may apply.

Unlock eligibility for pay in advance (prepaid) phones, tablets and mobile internet devices

Sources: ArsTechnica, T-Mobile

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