By Mitchell Lazarus, ComLawBlogg, December 13, 2013
| Deal comes just ahead of a threatened FCC rulemaking. | | This week the FCC had planned to consider a rule that would | require cell companies to allow "unlocking" of their phones | for transfer to a competing carrier. Unlocking phones used to | be legal, until a 2012 ruling by the Librarian of Congress - | at the cell companies' request - made it a criminal offense. | The public backlash reached the White House, on whose behalf, | reportedly, the National Telecommunications and Information | Administration petitioned the FCC to take the issue away from | the Librarian and make unlocking legal again. | | On the very day the FCC was to address the matter, the cell | companies' trade association, CTIA-The Wireless Association, sent a | letter to the FCC essentially capitulating. Five major carriers - | AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless - have | now agreed to unlock a phone on request after fulfillment of the | (usually) two-year contract required when buying a subsidized phone | through the carrier, or within one year of buying a prepaid | phone. Matter closed. | | Or maybe not.