iphone-5s-hero-l-201311iPhone users could soon finally be able to easily use any supported carrier at the end of their service contract without having to jump through hoops or use other means to unlock the device. That is if a proposed bill currently processing through Congress passes and becomes law.

The Hill reports that the mentioned bill, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, cleared through the Senate after a vote on Tuesday through a ‘unanimous consent agreement’ and will next move to the House for a vote before potentially becoming law after first being introduced last year.

If the bill does indeed become law, consumers will easily be able to take an iPhone purchased through one carrier on contract and have the option to unlock the device and use it on another carrier after the contract expires.

Current rules and processes for unlocking devices vary from carrier to carrier and even contract to contract in certain instances, and as it stands now, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act prohibits legally unlocking a carrier-restricted device.

The Hill’s report notes Senator Patrick Leahy’s previous statements on the current policy explaining why he introduced the legislation:

“This straightforward restoring bill is about promoting consumer rights,” Leahy said when the bill was introduced last year. “When consumers finish the terms of their contract, they should be able to keep their phones and make their own decision about which wireless provider to use.”

Unlocked devices can be purchased outright avoid the restrictions of contracts and carrier-locked devices, but in the case of the iPhone, the cost goes from $199 to $649 with most carrier subsidies.

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14 Responses to “Senate bill passes bringing regulated post-contract cell phone “unlocking” closer to reality”

  1. rwtd says:

    At least AT&T doesn’t have any problem allowing for an unlock once the contract is up.

    • As long as the original customer is requesting it, yes. It’s much harder for someone else to get it unlocked (say you give your old phone to a friend).

      Locked phones are BS. I’m glad to see carriers switching to a financing model where you simply pay a fixed amount per month for a fixed term, in lieu of permanently high monthly fees being used to pay them back for a “subsidy” which has just been a clever way for them to offer a poorly-defined and unregulated loan this whole time. This way people who bring their own devices can get much better deals than before, when they were forced to pay the same rates as “subsidized phone” users. Also, anyone with any decent credit can independently finance their own carrier-unlocked device using a credit card and thus avoid the carrier ever getting a chance to put locks on their phone.

  2. Verizon iPhone 5(s)(c) comes unlock the GSM side even with a contract. So no need to unlock it.

  3. dxwoods says:

    I will be surprised if this gets through the House.

    • rwtd says:

      Republicans aren’t against this. Social equality, sure, but not something as this.

      • Seriously? Wow. It’s not the responsibility of government to get involved with social matters. Business matters? Yes.

      • rwtd says:

        It is EXACTLY the Government’s responsibility to ensure all citizens have full equality, and for the court system to enforce such. It is NOT up to the people to decide or vote upon. Apparently, you do not relieve in the very document we all live under.

      • rwtd says:

        *believe

  4. A carrier-locked phone is the price you pay for a $450 upfront discount on your phone. Carrier locking is the only way a carrier can guarantee you won’t take the phone and abandon your contract.

    Is there any mention of amending current carrier policies about second-hand owners being able to unlock their phones?

  5. For two years, I was with AT & T and I was stuck in a contract that I didn’t like. For $54 per month and limited minutes, there was no text or data. Now I don’t have a contract and I pay $39 per month for unlimited talk, text, & data with Solavei. I have been with Solavei for almost two years now and I wouldn’t change back to a contract service.,

  6. Wayne Moore says:

    It will never work with Sprint. They use a 3G signal for their phone service, and 4G for their data. Their phones won’t support other carriers because they are made differently.