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An FCC ruling from 2013 dictating that all mobile network carriers operating in the US must unlock phones once the contract with the customer has concluded has come into effect as of February 11th.
The ruling says that this can either be at the end of the allotted time since the contract began, or after the payment of an early termination fee.
Phones will be fit for unlocking “no later than one year after initial activation, consistent with reasonable time, payment or usage requirements.”
Customers must also be notified that this service is available immediately, and carriers need to respond to unlock requests within two business days. Members of the armed forces that have been deployed are able to have their phones unlocked regardless of their current situation with their contract.
However, this isn’t actually a law, but rather an agreement between various carriers and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. These rules are considered “voluntary” and failing to comply would not lead to a lawsuit, but it would probably lead to a loss of customers.
Other facets of the new policy include a 14-day free trial for postpaid plans as well as a map showing network coverage in a certain area.
Needless to say, this is great for consumers. Now picking a carrier doesn’t feel like tattooing its name on your arm.