Cellphone Contract Freedom Deal (The Verge)
Most Americans buy their cellphones through their mobile phone carrier, and the phones they buy are locked so they can only be used on that carrier’s network, even after a customer has paid off their contract and, in theory, owns the phone free and clear. Until January 2013, when a limited copyright exception expired, it was legal for customers to unlock their phones or pay someone else to do so. Since that exception has expired, the FCC has begun working with carriers to standardize and simplify their policies with regard to unlocking their customers’ cellphones.
Unlocking cellphones may have impacts both on customers ability to switch between cell carriers and on the value of the contracts between phone manufacturers and carriers for exclusive phone deals.