Update: Well, would you look at that, just moments after reports of a deal being near comes the news that a deal has actually been reached. The CTIA has posted a PDF document that reveals some of the agreed upon terms of the negotiations. The bottom line is no matter what, this is a major win for consumers and the overall industry even if the carriers are probably steaming over the deal.
- Disclosure: Each carrier will post on its website its clear, concise, and readily accessible policy on postpaid and prepaid mobile wireless device unlocking.
- 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 an 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.
- Notice: Carriers that lock devices will clearly notify customers that their devices are eligible for unlocking at the time when their devices are eligible for unlocking or automatically unlock devices remotely when devices are eligible for unlocking, without additional fee. Carriers reserve the right to charge non-customers/non-former customers a reasonable fee for unlocking requests. Notice to prepaid customers may occur at point of sale, at the time of eligibility, or through a clear and concise statement of the policy on the carrier’s website.
- Response Time: Within two business days after receiving a request, carriers will unlock eligible mobile wireless devices or initiate a request to the OEM to unlock the eligible device, or provide an explanation of why the device does not qualify for unlocking, or why the carrier reasonably needs additional time to process the request.
- Deployed Personnel Unlocking Policy: Carriers will unlock mobile wireless devices for deployed military personnel who are customers in good standing upon provision of deployment papers.
- Carriers reserve the right to decline an unlock request if they have a reasonable basis to believe the request is fraudulent or the device is stolen.
The deal includes five major carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon and it appears of the terms will be implemented within the next 12 months. The agreement has been presented to the FCC, though it lacks word on what will happen to consumers who attempt to unlock devices prior to the end date of their contract. However, there is now a clear and concise message for cell phone unlocking in the US and the timelines for each type of customer.
This is a win-win for consumers and I for one, couldn’t be any happier.