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. expand full story
Patrick Leahy Stories July 16, 2014
Patrick Leahy Stories March 13, 2013
Regional carriers supporting new cellphone unlocking bills in hopes of attracting iPhone customers
Earlier this month we told you that lawmakers were working on introducing new legislation to legalize cellphone unlocking following a statement from the White House confirming that it would support “narrow legislative fixes.” The new laws would attempt to reverse a decision was made by the Library of Congress in October to make the act illegal that resulted in a petition from consumers and prompted a response from the White House. We already knew that most of the big carriers including Verizon and AT&T are not in support of unlocking, but today Bloomberg reports smaller, rural carriers are backing new bills in hopes it will attract new iPhone customers:
“Smaller carriers have a very difficult time getting access to smartphones and handsets,” said Steven Berry, president of the Competitive Carriers Association, which represents such companies as U.S. Cellular Corp. (USM) and Bluegrass Cellular. “The unlocking is one way the consumer can make the decision that I can try someone else who has better coverage in the area where I live or play.”
While the Senate bills are “excellent first steps,” Congress needs to go further, Carri Bennet, general counsel for Rural Telecommunications Group, a Washington association representing rural carriers with fewer than 100,000 subscribers, said in an e-mail.
Many of these smaller regional carriers, including Bluegrass Cellular, typically offer the latest iPhone for a price lower than Apple and the major carriers in order to attract customers. Bloomberg also reports that a number of lawmakers have committed to introducing or supporting bills to legalize unlocking phones:
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, and Charles Grassley of Iowa, the panel’s top Republican, introduced a bill March 11 to overturn the Library of Congress’s decision and direct the agency to consider adding tablet computers to devices that consumers can unlock.
Democratic Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota have also introduced bills to unlock mobile phones. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, and John Conyers of Michigan, the panel’s top Democrat, have also announced plans to sponsor such legislation.
Patrick Leahy Stories March 6, 2013
Following a statement from the White House on Monday confirming it would support “narrow legislative fixes” to make unlocking cellphones legal again, several lawmakers have announced plans to introduce legislation. According to a report from The Hill, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and Chair of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights Senator Amy Klobuchar have confirmed they will introduce bills in support of the legalization of cellphone unlocking:
“I intend to work in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion to restore users’ ability to unlock their phones and provide them with the choice and freedom that we have all come to expect in the digital era,” Leahy said in a statement.
The Judiciary Committee, which handles copyright issues, would likely have jurisdiction over any bill to legalize cellphone unlocking.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who chairs the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, said she plans to introduce her own bill this week.
During a recent panel discussion on Capitol Hill, other lawmakers voiced their support for the legislation, including Representatives Darrell Issa and Jared Polis, while The Hill reported the Federal Communication Commissions’Jessica Rosenworcel “encouraged Congress to re-examine the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”
The decision was made by the Library of Congress in October to make unlocking cellphones illegal, and that policy officially took effect in January. Following the White House’s statement in response to a petition with over 110,000 signatures, the Library of Congress issued a statement and agreed that “the question of locked cell phones has implications for telecommunications policy and that it would benefit from review and resolution in that context.” expand full story