Last year it became illegal to unlock your phone in the U.S. as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. At the time we were pretty upset, and now over a year later Congress is finally correcting its mistake. All that’s left is for President Obama to sign the new bill into law, and that shouldn’t be much of an issue.
The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act passed through the U.S. Senate earlier this summer. Earlier today it was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives. The bill gives regular people and third-party companies the right to unlock a smartphone once it’s been tied to a specific carrier. For the past year only carriers were allowed to unlock their own phones, and they typically wouldn’t do it until you’d paid off the device’s entire unsubsidized price.
It’s worth noting that the new bill won’t clear up this issue once and for all. Instead the rules will be reconsidered again next year and then once every three years for the foreseeable future. Hopefully we’ll see the same unanimous support for unlocking in 2015 and into the future, but it’s also possible carriers could influence the decision down the road. In the short term, however, you should be able to unlock your smartphone as soon as the president signs the bill into law.