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Obama Asks FCC To Make Carriers Unlock All Mobile Devices

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the time-to-regulate dept.

Government 378

New submitter globaljustin writes "According to a Washington Post report: 'Several months after calling for legislation to unlock cellphones, the White House filed a petition (PDF) with the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday asking that all wireless carriers be required to unlock all mobile devices so that users can easily switch between carriers. ... the National Telecommunications and Information Administration said that allowing unlocked devices would increase competition and consumer choice, while also putting the burden of changing networks on companies rather than consumers.' This move should be met with universal acclaim from cell phone users, right?"

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378 comments

Topology (5, Informative)

eedwardsjr (1327857) | about 10 months ago | (#44882327)

There is still the whole GSM vs CDMA issue.

Re: Topology (2)

TheEffigy (2666397) | about 10 months ago | (#44882333)

You guys still have CDMA?

Re: Topology (4, Funny)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 10 months ago | (#44882357)

well, at least it isn't SOPA. We told them to STFU about SOPA so we wouldn't be SOL.

Re: Topology (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882395)

We have four major carriers. Two carriers are on CDMA and two are on GSM. The two GSM carriers use different frequency bands for 3G, which means you need a phone with a pentaband 3G radio to be able to freely switch between those two. LTE is even more complicated.

Basically, this would have been a great suggestion ten years ago, but now the carriers have used technical measures to make the whole "carrier locking" thing moot.

Re: Topology (2, Interesting)

nikkipolya (718326) | about 10 months ago | (#44882425)

CDMA is a newer standard compared to GSM. CDMA is still protected with patents (Mostly held by Qualcomm). While a lot of the patents surrounding GSM have expired (?). CDMA is more efficient for the given bandwidth (both number of connections and energy), while GSM is based on time or frequency division.

In countries like India, government regulation ensured that CDMA players didn't get any advantages monetarily, due to the better bandwidth utilization, over GSM players. Thus, ensuring a slow death for CDMA.

Re: Topology (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 10 months ago | (#44882495)

Since CDMA as normally implemented does not have SIM cards it is extremely consumer unfriendly. In fact in violation of their LTE band C requirements VZW is not even activating outside devices on their network. You can activate an approved device and move the SIM over, but they will not activate a new SIM in an unapproved device.

Re: Topology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882525)

Yea, I don't think he meant GSM as the new system. Rest of the world is happily doing 4G (LTE) already.

Re: Topology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882443)

Most of the country by area still has CDMA. Once you are five miles from a city that's probably what you're using. Most all phones though still have CDMA mode but that means no data unless you hack your phone to be a dialup modem.

Re: Topology (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882575)

As I understand it, it's better designed for large geographical areas. US is a very big country.

Re: Topology (2)

SpzToid (869795) | about 10 months ago | (#44882621)

Yes. We also have an FTC, however they sold out awhile ago. Some people can only dream of SIM. Some people don't even know what economic freedom is made possible by SIM standardization.

Re:Topology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882361)

Solution: get rid of CDMA.

Re:Topology (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 10 months ago | (#44882735)

to expand on this we have

Verizon: CDMA with LTE overlay a "sim" card is used for LTE Only. Carrier provided phones mostly do not have CDMA/GSM radios

Sprint: CDMA with a slightly different LTE overlay i think you can pay an arm and a leg to get a CDMA/GSM/Iden phone (Iden is what Nextel used to use)

ATT: GSM with LTE (i think) this is the current version of the Bell System (cellular)

T-Mobile: GSM with LTE on different bands

a legion of smaller local and or "prepay" carriers (some of whom may be linked to or run by the Big Four)

in about 5 years when they swap off of CDMA we will not have most of this mess

But (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882337)

Are they just going to change the terms of the contracts to find another way to screw people over? I really just want the price on unlocked devices to come down.

Promised fulfilled (2, Funny)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about 10 months ago | (#44882341)

Now we can CHANGE carriers.

Re:Promised fulfilled (5, Insightful)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | about 10 months ago | (#44882383)

Now we can CHANGE carriers.

Maybe...

Presumably you're still locked into some contract that went along with getting that shiny new phone.

Re:Promised fulfilled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882413)

T-Mobile is doing this.

They've separated the phone's cost from the plan. Same amount of overall money, but you can change and terminate the plan without fees.... you're just still contracted for the phone payment.

Re:Promised fulfilled (5, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 10 months ago | (#44882505)

Yes it's called a "Loan" and it's what happens when you buy a $600 toy with $50 and someone tells you they need $20 a month until they have $600 from you.

Re:Promised fulfilled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882537)

Yes it's called a "Loan" and it's what happens when you buy a $600 toy with $50 and someone tells you they need $20 a month until they have $600 from you.

plus, it comes with minutes and internet, so is a good deal i believe

Re:Promised fulfilled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882549)

At least they're honest about it now, unlike the rest of the carriers who let you buy a $600 toy "on contract" for "only $100" with an "early termination fee" of (more than) the remaining loan balance.

Re:Promised fulfilled (5, Insightful)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 10 months ago | (#44882583)

>> Yes it's called a "Loan" and it's what happens when you buy a $600 toy with $50 and someone tells you they need $20 a month until they have $900 from you.

There fixed that for you

Re:Promised fulfilled (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882673)

>> Yes it's called a "Loan" and it's what happens when you buy a $600 toy with $250 and someone tells you they need $30 a month for as long as you stay with the company.

You didn't fix it enough.

Re:Promised fulfilled (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882565)

But it means that if you switch from one GSM carrier to another, you don't have to buy a new phone. It also means you can take your GSM phone to other GSM countries (most of the world), swap out SIM cards and use it there with the cheapest local service.

The worst part of this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882343)

isn't the outrageous 5-year prison sentence, but that the "solution" is to officially ignore the law, rather than to repeal it.

Re:The worst part of this... (3, Interesting)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 10 months ago | (#44882369)

Another person asleep during the GWB years?

Or any other president in fact. All presidents are selective enforcers of the law.

Re:The worst part of this... (0)

slick7 (1703596) | about 10 months ago | (#44882463)

Another person asleep during the GWB years?

Or any other president in fact. All presidents are selective enforcers of the law.

All presidents are selective enforcers of corporate law. FTFY

Re:The worst part of this... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882553)

Except your hero BO, is the biggest F-ing liar in history next to the devil. Same goes for Kerry and McCain. Obama lied and dark skinned people died. Liberals are the biggest sheep followers in history.

Re:The worst part of this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882571)

With us or against us!

Oh hey, now "us" changed. Enjoy your legacy.

republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882353)

Republicans will somehow find a way to criticize this. Like "Obama gives stimulus for brain cancer" or something.

Re:republicans (1)

FilmedInNoir (1392323) | about 10 months ago | (#44882449)

Maybe it's so the NSA can more easily download software to your cell phone.

Re:republicans (1)

scewing (313746) | about 10 months ago | (#44882455)

I was thinking maybe more like Obama is tying the hands of the job creators (AT&T). We'll have to watch Fox "News" to see how they put the word out to the parrots.

Obama and the FCC dont get cell phone tech (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882355)

Even if the phone is unlocked you cannot take a Sprint phone and use it with AT&T one is CDMA and the other is GSM. And in some cases GSM to GSM the Internet access will not work but the phone will.

Re:Obama and the FCC dont get cell phone tech (1)

feld (980784) | about 10 months ago | (#44882435)

There will come a time in the future thanks to the popularity of iPhones and flagship Android phones where they begin building them with support for all carriers. Why? Because it's simpler if you only have one model to produce. Not to mention that when everyone moves to voice over LTE the CDMA problem is now completely gone.

Re:Obama and the FCC dont get cell phone tech (3, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 10 months ago | (#44882457)

You can't have that many antennas in the phone without it being too big. There are half a dozen frequency bands ranging from 700Mhz all the way up to 2100MHz, and one antenna will not do it all.

Sure, it's easy enough to have a software defined radio like they do, but the amplifiers, LNAs, matching networks, and antennas are all cut for one or maybe two bands.

Re:Obama and the FCC dont get cell phone tech (2, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 months ago | (#44882523)

yeah that's why we don't have pentaband phones going from 900 to 2100 on umts and gsm.. oh wait we do.

cdma networks in usa were on purpose built so that you're tied to the network as the phone provider. they should never have allowed to do so because it's pretty obvious what the result from that kind of arrangement is..

Universal Acclaim? (4, Funny)

RCGodward (1235102) | about 10 months ago | (#44882359)

Let's look at some potential headlines:

Obama Bans Cell Phone Subsidies
Apple stock plummets as iPhone is no longer affordable
Is this the beginning of a national cell plan?
Antichrist makes power play in mobile sector

Had to throw in one from FauxNews. Anyway, there's lots people could complain about here. Some of it might even be reasonable.

Re:Universal Acclaim? (5, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | about 10 months ago | (#44882433)

If it's anything like the UK it'll do nothing to subsidies as you're still contracted to 12 to 24 months or whatever, the difference is that when that time is up (or even before hand if you fancy paying for a contract you no longer use or have the option to buy out) you can now go to another carrier without needing a new phone for their network.

This is how it works in the UK. We still have contracts that subsidise handsets that you can be tied into, the carrier just can't prevent you using your device on another network afterwards or even at the same time if you're so inclined.

Re:Universal Acclaim? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882587)

Even if I'm still bound by the contract, as long as my phone is unlocked I can use local SIM cards on holidays and pay local data prices. Not sure how relevant it is for CDMA users but at least in Europe it's more than useful.

Re:Universal Acclaim? (3, Insightful)

asylumx (881307) | about 10 months ago | (#44882607)

OR... you could buy the phone WITHOUT the subsidy and choose your carrier right away.

Re:Universal Acclaim? (1)

Xest (935314) | about 10 months ago | (#44882667)

That's what I do and go for contracts that are much shorter term than is typical with a subsidised phone because it gives me far more flexibility and much lower per-monthly costs as I'm just paying for my contract without any phone costs bundled in.

But not everyone has the cash upfront to buy a £600 smartphone outright yet are happy to pay for one over the period of say 24 months instead and then still be able to use it even if they want to change carrier afterwards.

In fact, without subsidies the smartphone market would be tiny compared to the size it is now as the vast majority of the general public would not be willing to pay for a phone if they saw the full cost of the device upfront and had to pay it in one big chunk.

They're really essential for the health of the smartphone industry as much as I'm not a fan of them.

Re:Universal Acclaim? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882693)

My Galaxy Nexus is the best $400 I even spent. $30/month prepaid plan means I have saved enough to pay for the phone twice already, and it's still shiny enough that it'll be thrice or more before I get another.

Re:Universal Acclaim? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 10 months ago | (#44882683)

Of course, a side effect of that is that it's possible to get a contract that's not subsidising a phone sale, usually for a pittance. From what I hear the US doesn't have those: you can get a contract with no phone, but you'll pay the same. T-Mo seem to be an exception?

Re:Universal Acclaim? (1)

Biotech_is_Godzilla (2634385) | about 10 months ago | (#44882757)

Also, if you're not in need of the newest shiny you can sell your new "upgrade" on ebay more easily. This is great news for the 'the brand new secondhand' market.

Re:Universal Acclaim? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882559)

No - douchebags will always find a way to buy Apple products.

Re:Universal Acclaim? (1, Insightful)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | about 10 months ago | (#44882603)

It still baffles me how anyone, right, left, or indifferent, could ever trust what comes out of a politician's mouth or their mouth pieces. So the nonsense of FauxNews or the Communist News Network, are all in cahoots to sell you soda and a side of fear.

Re:Universal Acclaim? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882645)

FauxNews, ha ha you libs are so smart, its getting old, stupid. Next you will talk about how cynical you are , Occam s razor, sighing, shrugging and the like. CNN talks about an AR15 rifle, but you bigots pick on Fox news. All news lies right? I guess the one news a-hole that joined BO's administration wasn't biased? Liberals are the biggest sheep to walk the planet.

Did your 1st grade teacher tell you say faux news or are you posting from Democrat head quarters, stupid? SD is a liberal haven of stupid.

Re: Universal Acclaim? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882723)

And yet, here you are valiantly fighting for your cause. You're such a hero!

Re:Universal Acclaim? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882751)

Nurse - he's out of bed again!

Doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882363)

Doesn't matter if the phone is unlocked if you are bound by a contractual agreement that you can't wiggle out of without paying usurious fees.

Re:Doesn't matter (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 10 months ago | (#44882437)

Nobody is holding a gun to your head and making you sign that contract. All of the carriers will give you a no-contract plan or sell you an unsubsidized, unlocked phone.

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

cduffy (652) | about 10 months ago | (#44882465)

All of the carriers will give you a no-contract plan or sell you an unsubsidized, unlocked phone.

Unsubsidized, and without a contract, yes.

Unlocked... have a source for that?

Re:Doesn't matter (2)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 10 months ago | (#44882591)

Who cares. If they for whatever reason won't give you an unlocked phone, get it from any electronics shop you want. That's supposed to be the main advantage that you can get your phone (unsibsidized and without contract) anywhere and then get a cheaper plan that doesn't include phone subsidies. (from any phone company you like) Just slap the SIM into the phone and you're done.

The Devil You Know (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882367)

Why do I want to unlock my phone to change carriers if they all suck the same?

Anyone?

Re:The Devil You Know (2)

rwise2112 (648849) | about 10 months ago | (#44882543)

Why do I want to unlock my phone to change carriers if they all suck the same? Anyone?

Actually they all suck more.

Symbolism over substance (2, Insightful)

mrsam (12205) | about 10 months ago | (#44882371)

Although my phone is unlocked, if it weren't, and it got unlocked, my choice of a wireless carrier will increase by exactly one carrier. As Benny Hill would've said: biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig ...deal.

I'm just curious if anyone in the administration actually knows that US wireless companies use different, incompatible technologies. A phone that works on one carrier would, at most, have a chance of working on only one other carrier, and would, most likely, lack the ability to take advantage of the additional carrier's full spectrum, resulting in degraded service.

Re:Symbolism over substance (5, Funny)

ByteSlicer (735276) | about 10 months ago | (#44882469)

Although my phone is unlocked, if it weren't, and it got unlocked, my choice of a wireless carrier will increase by exactly one carrier.

A 100% increase, that's huge!

Re:Symbolism over substance (2)

dorre (1731288) | about 10 months ago | (#44882499)

At least, if people had to pay for phones directly (instead of indirectly trough outrageous monthly fees), they would probably be more likely to spend money on a phone compatible with most standard networks, meaning they dont have spend more money if they change network.

This would mean that networks using "non-compatible" equipment would be in a worse position as people would hesitate more to drop money on phone only compatible with one network, driving developement towards more standardized networks and thus allowing direct competion. How is regulation not increasing freedom in this case?

Re:Symbolism over substance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882519)

Arm... If you live in village - tough shit.
There are also big cities and stuff.

Re:Symbolism over substance (1)

hodet (620484) | about 10 months ago | (#44882609)

A friend of mine always buys an unlocked phone because he travels frequently to the US. It allows him to swap SIM cards so he doesn't get killed on roaming charges. There are advantages for some to have unlocked phones. For you maybe not so much. For him he would not mind a contract with a subsidized phone if he could swap the SIM card.

Re:Symbolism over substance (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 10 months ago | (#44882681)

I'm just curious if anyone in the administration actually knows that US wireless companies use different, incompatible technologies.

Under the current system regardless of any technical limitations of you using your phone on different carriers, the wireless companies can prevent you doing so merely if they wish. The administration cannot wave a wand and magically change the hardware on your phone. Nor can they release you from a contract you signed. They can force the carriers from locking your phone to their network. So the administration can do something within their control and they are proposing that change.

A phone that works on one carrier would, at most, have a chance of working on only one other carrier, and would, most likely, lack the ability to take advantage of the additional carrier's full spectrum, resulting in degraded service.

Also, you are aware that some phones can be used on both CDMA and GSM networks right? You have to pay more for them single network ones but they exist. For example, I think the iPhone since the iPhone 4 are dual. The real problem is the carriers still have to allow you to use your old phone in their network.

It's A Start (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882377)

We need to be able to mod/root/vaporize our phones if we so desire. Especially if we want to take advantage of things like this [slashdot.org] .

Of course, this is going to affect the subsidized business model that has been prevalent in the US, but I think we'll be happy to trade "you're fuckin' stuck with us" for "I'll pay for my own, thanks".

Look for a new group of "cell phone loan provider" companies that allow people to still buy a phone with little down but be independent of the carriers.

Not "ours" (1)

irving47 (73147) | about 10 months ago | (#44882381)

Verizon's smartphones are already unlocked... ATT will unlock as soon as we've paid for the devices in full.
I'm probably over-generalizing.... A mandate like this is going to prompt them to find a way to screw us over. Remember what happened with the portable numbers? We all ended up with a $1.75 "regulatory recovery fee" on our bills for quite a while.

Re:Not "ours" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882415)

"we've paid for our devices in full"
At which time the phone is 2 years old, and you'll probably just get another one anyway.

So it ends up meaning
"when you no longer care about having that phone around and would rather sell it anyway"

Re:Not "ours" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882651)

Verizon's smartphones are already unlocked

So they'd have to unlock their other phones too, which would be their handsets and featurephones. Preferably their prepaid ones.

Re:Not "ours" (5, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 10 months ago | (#44882717)

having worked for a phone company, in the very department that handles number portability, I can tell you that moving your number around is a huge pain in the ass for the phone company. And no, it's not because their systems are in the dark ages. It's because the PSC gives out number blocks in groups of 10,000. (think 555-555-0000 through 9999) and they ONLY give you so many. Now imagine your blocks of numbers filled with people that don't even have services with you... so now you have maybe 5 numbers in use in a block of numbers... and a major hospital gets built and needs 10,000 phone numbers. You go to the PSC and ask for more numbers, and they say "No, you already have 100k numbers in that area and you are only using 45% of them. Use the other numbers!" But the hospital needs them consecutive and many of those blocks are contaminated with non-customers. There are entire departments dedicated to dealing with these sorts of issues,

It doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882385)

As long as people have to sign 2 year contracts to get subsidized phones carriers don't care if your phone is unlocked or not.

Re:It doesn't matter (1)

scewing (313746) | about 10 months ago | (#44882641)

If it didn't matter, AT&T wouldn't go to the lengths they do to keep theirs locked. Every time an unlock is found, AT&T does an update shortly after, closing the hole.

consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882387)

It would mean the end of cheap phones, and possibly the end of long term contracts.

Universal acclaim? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882399)

Of course not. People will complain when their bundled phones become more expensive. Never mind that the weird bundling schemes are suppressing competition both in the carrier and phone markets.

So, that KORUS treaty is still a problem, I think. (4, Interesting)

Da w00t (1789) | about 10 months ago | (#44882411)

http://www.techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20130311/01344922277/government-might-want-to-legalize-phone-unlocking-unfortunately-it-signed-away-that-right.shtml [techdirt.com]

The interesting part is treaties can (and do) override what the US federal government can do. :/

Re:So, that KORUS treaty is still a problem, I thi (4, Insightful)

tilante (2547392) | about 10 months ago | (#44882567)

You say that as if the US didn't feel free to violate treaties and international law whenever it wants.

This is the wrong approach. (1)

beltsbear (2489652) | about 10 months ago | (#44882417)

Just make unlocking phones legal under all circumstances. We already know the 'unintended consequences' of that. Making unlocking always legal gives us a market based approach versus a legislative approach and if done correctly (yea right) the law could be made simpler not more complex then current law.

Re:This is the wrong approach. (1)

Faw (33935) | about 10 months ago | (#44882515)

Why not just sell all phones unlocked, end of story. What keeps you on a carrier is the contract, not the phone being locked to said carrier.

Re:This is the wrong approach. (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 10 months ago | (#44882765)

Not just this, but force the carriers to blacklist ESN/MEIDs that are reported stolen through the appropriate channels.

Carriers are already required to unlock phones (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882423)

Carriers must sell you an unlocked phone upon request. They are also required to allow you to BYOD. And, indeed, they all do so.

If you want to voluntarily agree to a carrier lock in exchange for a discount on the phone, that's between you and the carrier and the government has no right to interfere with that.

Re:Carriers are already required to unlock phones (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 10 months ago | (#44882551)

They do not all allow BYOD. Verizon will not activate devices that they do not sell. Just try and get a SIM activated in a 2013 Nexus 7 LTE. This is in clear violation of their agreement for the 700mhz band, but they do not care.

Re:Carriers are already required to unlock phones (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 10 months ago | (#44882677)

I did this just this week with a new Lenovo laptop I bought. I took it to the Verizon store and they put a Verizon SIM card in it for their LTE data network and added it to my account, no problem.

Re:Carriers are already required to unlock phones (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 10 months ago | (#44882743)

Stores are in fact doing this, in violation of their company policies. Resellers, which is when you see the big verizon logo and a smaller logo below it on the storefront, will do it all day long. They will violate the policy to get the monthly income.

Re:Carriers are already required to unlock phones (1)

Arker (91948) | about 10 months ago | (#44882585)

"Carriers must sell you an unlocked phone upon request. They are also required to allow you to BYOD. And, indeed, they all do so."

What country are you in? Because I remember that being the case in Europe, but here in the US, there is not a single provider that has coverage anywhere near me that will even talk with you about BYOD. You will sign a contract and take a subsidised phone off the list or they will not do business with you, period.

A gift for those skipping out on their contract. (-1, Troll)

blcamp (211756) | about 10 months ago | (#44882431)

All this does is weaken the ability of a carrier to enforce a contract which a paying customer willingly entered into. As a result, the paying customers who honor thier contracts will end up paying extra to cover those who bail out, and stiff the carrier for the exit fees they voluntarily agreed to pay.

This is nothing more but welfare for scofflaws.

Re:A gift for those skipping out on their contract (1)

Quantus347 (1220456) | about 10 months ago | (#44882503)

The contracts that the rest of the world think are a ridiculous and counter-productive system?

Besides, this would have nothing to do with contracts. It just means that if you want to change carriers, you would be able to take your phone with you. IF you hadnt yet paid off the subsidy, they would probably bill you for that when you left, not force others to pay for it. And if they stiff the company on a contractually obligated fee they will most likely find themselves in court or have bill collectors harassing them, just like with every single monetary contract in the country.

Re:A gift for those skipping out on their contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882535)

It is highly unlikely that the new system would allow you to break the law. If you sign a contract, you are still beholden to that contract. The idea is that carriers should no longer be able to force you into signing that contract through lack of alternatives (and no, it is no longer possible to abstain from a cellphone if you wish to have a job).

Think 10 years into the future, how will the system look? With the proposed changes, chances are you will have several carriers to choose from.

Re:A gift for those skipping out on their contract (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 10 months ago | (#44882563)

It's a contract, and should be sufficient. It's why there are courts and laws.

Have you ever seen a large corp like this go after you for money? If you stiff a phone co on their fees, no other phone co will ever let you sign up again because they'll look at your credit rating and laugh so hard tears will start running down their faces. I don't fee sorry for the carriers one bit as they get to write all the terms of the contract.

Re:A gift for those skipping out on their contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882627)

All this does is weaken the ability of a carrier to enforce a contract which a paying customer willingly entered into

And which the carrier willingly wrote in an exit clause where you pay $x to get out. If they're having trouble enforcing the contract they wrote, maybe they should write a better one rather than crying to mommy government to make them stahp.

inb4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882459)

inb4 people all the hate on America's cell service

You can already buy unlocked devices. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882471)

You can already get devices unlocked.

They just have a price tag which reflects the real cost of the hardware.

No sane person with any math capabilities will take a "locked" phone as you end up paying far more for the hardware (and have no flexibility as to replacing it during the contract period). That $700 phone will turn into $1000-1200 phone when you add up all the monthly charges for the contract period even after you first take out the costs of the same carrier services when bought for unlocked phone.

Luckily for the carriers in the US, the country is full of people who are bad at math.

You must be terrible at buying cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882727)

The price tag for an unsubsidized phone reflecting the "real cost of the hardware" is much like the sticker price on the car or the MSRP on a piece of electronics. Both are artificially inflated to make the dealer claim they are bending over backwards to give you a great deal.

Carriers already had a heads up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882479)

Thus why they are all switching to no contract upgrade any time terms. Removing the burden of subsidizing the phone from them and just financing it on to you.

Fair and equal wireless spectrum is more important (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882483)

This is silly... How can Obama ask for the phones to be unlocked but overlook the monopolies given to wireless carriers with regard to spectrum (FCC). If you truly want competition in the wireless market you can't have Verizon with a lock on 700 mhz (LTE) competing againts sprint at 2.5 ghz (LTE). 700mhz propagates significantly further and requires less infrastructure to implement vs 2.5 ghz. The feds should legislate the RF spectrum with appropriate co-existence mechanisms without granting winners in losers in the physics of wireless.

Re:Fair and equal wireless spectrum is more import (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882647)

What you are suggesting is like telling two lunch truck vendors they can have the same parking space.

NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882489)

Pretty soon you'll be able to go into a 7-11 and buy a new SIM card for your phone for whatever carrier you like. You have no idea what's on a SIM card. Or who programmed it. Deregulation of the cell phone network is the best thing that could happen for the NSA.

Will be shot down by the republicans... (-1, Troll)

Lumpy (12016) | about 10 months ago | (#44882497)

every single one of them on the hill will get their panties all in a bunch and scream bloody murder over this for two reasons.

1 - a dirty damn democrat asked for it, and we cant allow democrats to have nuttin'!
2 - they all are in the pockets of big business so anything that can possibly reduce profits of big business is very bad.

All you republicans, instead of your typical foam at the mouth reply, give me a real reason as to why all the idiots with an R after their name in washington DC are acting like bought and paid for spoiled brats?

Now understand I also think anyone with a D after their name is also an idiot, but for the past 8 years the R's have had a monopoly on moron behavior.

Re:Will be shot down by the republicans... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882689)

"for the past 8 years the R's have had a monopoly on moron behavior."

Oh really. Because Obama's done such a good job getting us out of debt (oh wait a minute...we're in more debt than ever), getting us out of wars (what's this Syria all about now?), oh and everyone raise their hand if they love what he's doing with the NSA! Anybody? Hmm...

But to answer your question, the reason all those idiots act like bought and paid for spoiled brats is because they ARE bought and paid for spoiled brats. It's sad. Really it is.

Asked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882511)

He just asked?
And if they say NO?

Has the WH thought this through? (0)

satch89450 (186046) | about 10 months ago | (#44882531)

Are Obamaphones already unlocked? If so, what is "the government" paying for the phones? The associated service?

Oh look... (0)

Red_Chaos1 (95148) | about 10 months ago | (#44882605)

...he's throwing the masses another bone to help get their poor stressed minds off of the burdensome issue of the NSA, the 2nd amendment, and Syria.

Terminology (1)

Warbothong (905464) | about 10 months ago | (#44882623)

If this goes ahead, carriers will not "unlock" phones. Rather, carriers will not "lock" phones. There is a difference between inherent restrictions and artificial restrictions.

BIG GOVERNMENT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44882665)

Anytime Obama does something, You have to wonder, How does this help the government, and hurt me ?

what if *YOU* were President? (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 10 months ago | (#44882675)

I'm wondering what the /. community would do differently on this issue...if you were president, in charge of the FCC & whatnot, what would your policy be on this issue?

great idea, but... (1)

chr1st1anSoldier (2598085) | about 10 months ago | (#44882729)

Great Idea, however, I don't think Obama understand cell phone technology in America. There are only two carriers that conform to global standards, T-Mobile and AT&T. There are MNVOs that piggy back off of those two carriers, Simple Mobile for example, but they are the only two that use GSM technology. Verizon, Sprint, Virgin Mobile, etc all use a nonstandard cellular technology that is US specific. You could unlock an AT&T phone but the only other network you could use it on in America is T-Mobile's. Good luck using a phone made for Sprints network on GSM technology or on Verizon's network.

It's a contract, guys... (2)

zazzel (98233) | about 10 months ago | (#44882755)

I wonder what the fuss is about. When you're agreeing on a cell phone + contract, the contract has a subsidy in it. So, Obama is actually forcing a seperation of both parts. I still think companies should be able to lock the phone for the initial 2-year duration of the contract. If you don't want that, buy your phone somewhere else and get a bare contract, like I've been doing for years, or PAYG.

I usually buy my phones whenever I want a new one, where it's cheapest. Then I go and find a contract where the guy selling it hands me part of his commission, or I use PAYG. I'm usually better off than with a contract+phone.

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