The FCC is certainly interested in seeing cellphone unlocking legalized in the United States, and now it seems that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) also wants to see the same thing happen. The NTIA has filed a petition with the FCC which asks them to communicate to carriers a few proposed rules for ensuring that carriers unlock cellphones when requested to do so by the customers.
Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, said, “Americans should be able to use their mobile devices on whatever networks they choose and have their devices unlocked without hassle”.
As you should already know, you will be able to use your phone on other networks if a carrier unlocks it for you. An unlocked phone would especially be useful if you are visiting another country, as you would save a lot of money by avoiding international roaming and buying a local SIM card.
Of course, unlocking won’t get rid of any carrier contracts or commitment. From the NTIA petition:
“The proposed rule would shift the burden associated with device unlocking onto the carriers that imposed the locks, and ensure they consistently do so in a way that is both expeditious and transparent. Removing a lock on a mobile device, however, would not affect any service agreement or contract the consumer has with a mobile provider”.
While having both FCC and NTIA support is a good step forward, remember that the FCC can’t actually change the law here, and instead can only begin talks with carriers and lawmakers. Still, this could eventually led to a legal change that finally resolves this issue.