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CTIA Praises Cellphone Unlocking Law

Washington — The law signed by the president to ensure consumers can unlock their cellphones was praised by CTIA-The Wireless Association, which said the bill “promotes consumer flexibility without imposing new regulations on America’s wireless carriers.”

The legislation codifies the voluntary commitment CTIA’s carriers entered into last December, the association said.

CTIA government affairs VP Jot Carpernter, however, noted that “users should keep in mind unlocked does not necessarily mean interoperable as carrier platforms and spectrum holdings vary.”

“Even though the vast majority of Americans enjoy upgrading to new devices once their contract terms are fulfilled, we recognize that some consumers may want to unlock their devices to move to another carrier,” he said of the law, called the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act.

The bill was created in the wake of a 2012 Library of Congress decision that said consumers would violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for if they unlocked mobile phones without carrier permission, even if a consumer’s contract had expired.

The carrier’s voluntary commitment came after FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler warned CTIA that the FCC would regulate if the carriers didn’t act voluntarily. The voluntary commitments include a commitment to automatically notify consumers when their phone is eligible for unlocking.