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FCC Prods Carriers To Let Consumers Unlock Phones

Washington – Acting Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn is stepping up the commission’s efforts to get cellular carriers to agree to an industrywide policy that lets consumers unlock their phones after their contracts are up.

“I’ve directed the FCC staff to redouble our efforts with partners across the administration and industry to explore all of our available options for a quick resolution,” she said.

“I support policies that enable consumers to lawfully unlock their mobile telephones so they can seamlessly move from one carrier to another,” she said. “While wireless carriers should be able to enforce their valid customer contracts, the unlocking provisions need to be grounded in common sense and practical application.”

 Consumers who satisfy the terms of their contracts “should not be subject to civil and criminal penalties if they want to take their device to a new carrier,” she said.

 Some months ago, the FCC began meeting with carriers and trade associations to establish a standard industry policy for unlocking cellphones. “I firmly believe a voluntary approach that promotes competition and consumer choice is still possible,” she said.

 Although some carriers have already adopted what Clyburn called “consumer-friendly cellphone unlocking policies,” the industry “must work on an industrywide cellphone unlocking solution that best serves the public interest.”