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Cellular device unlocking bill passed by US House, President Obama says will sign into law

post #1 of 110
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After passing through U.S. Senate last week, the House of Representatives on Friday cleared a bill regarding cellphone and tablet owners' rights to unlock their hardware for use on a different carrier's network.




The U.S. House signed off on Senate Bill 517, a proposed law that would enable cellular device users to unlock their hardware and switch to a competing carrier without penalty, something that is currently illegal. The Senate pushed the bill through last week.

Following successfully passage through Congress, President Barack Obama needs to sign the piece of legislation into law, which he will do shortly, according to a White House release.

From President Obama:

I applaud Members of Congress for passing the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act. Last year, in response to a "We the People" petition from consumers across our country, my Administration called for allowing Americans to use their phones or mobile devices on any network they choose. We laid out steps the FCC, industry, and Congress should take to ensure copyright law does not undermine wireless competition, and worked with wireless carriers to reach a voluntary agreement that helps restore this basic consumer freedom. The bill Congress passed today is another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, so that they can find a cell phone carrier that meets their needs and their budget. I commend Chairmen Leahy and Goodlatte, and Ranking Members Grassley and Conyers for their leadership on this important consumer issue and look forward to signing this bill into law.


President Obama's comments came in an emailed update on a "We the People" petition signed by more than 114,000 people, who asked the administration to "restore a basic consumer freedom: to take your mobile service -- and a phone or tablet you already own -- to the carrier that best suits your needs."

The contents of S.517 effectively overturns a prior decision from the Librarian of Congress, who in 2012 dissolved an exemption in the Digital Millennium Copyrights Act (DMCA) that allowed cellphones to be unlocked. After a 90-day buffer period, the DMCA stipulation went into effect in January 2013.

Interestingly, S.517 fails to limit so-called "bulk unlocking," or the practice of unlocking multiple phones, tablets and other devices for resale purposes. An earlier version saw the House tac on a clause that prohibited bulk unlocking, though the final draft being sent to the White House contains no mention of the stipulation.

Cellular service providers "lock" phones and other devices they sell to their proprietary network in an effort to thwart customer flight to a competing carrier's service. Providers used the method to ensure continuing subscription revenue from customers who purchased subsidized hardware.

post #2 of 110

Best news I've heard all week.

 

Now to hope that the FCC doesn't screw anything relating to net neutrality(miracle).

post #3 of 110

Could you not buy an unlocked phone before? And any locked phone was one purchased via a 2-year contract which reduced the up front cost of the phone. Now, if anyone can unlock their phone at any time, what incentive does the carrier have to subsidize the phone? 

post #4 of 110
I assume the ETfs are all still in force but they can't just hold your device hostage as well. The contracts will all still work the same way.

The situation was already much better than it has been but this will allow a lot of orphan devices to be brought back into prepaid service etc.
post #5 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Getz View Post

Could you not buy an unlocked phone before? And any locked phone was one purchased via a 2-year contract which reduced the up front cost of the phone. Now, if anyone can unlock their phone at any time, what incentive does the carrier have to subsidize the phone? 

They still get you locked into a 2 year contract.
post #6 of 110

I'm just surprised that a piece of legislation came out of the House.

post #7 of 110
An online petition from average joes beat big business. Small win for 'merica

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post #8 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by manfrommars View Post

I'm just surprised that a piece of legislation came out of the House.

Both the House and Senate send each other bills all the time. They promptly set the bills from the other house on fire. 1wink.gif

But that's normal and proper, I like slow government. Fast government gives us bad stuff.

All I would have wanted is that you be allowed to unlock the device after the contract is up, seeing as you've paid for it...
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post #9 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by manfrommars View Post

I'm just surprised that a piece of legislation came out of the House.

Harry Reid has over 200 bills from the House waiting for him to take to the floor.

Know what you're talking about before spitting it.
post #10 of 110
does this mean that AT&T will have to unlock phones like the amazon kindle fire phone ? or a playstation vita ? or does this just give me legal protections to jailbreak my amazon kindle fire phone / playstation vita to be used on a different carrier?
post #11 of 110
In other words... Another nail in the coffin for carrier phone subsidies. More up front cellphone cost for the consumer might be bad for a consumer on the fence about buying a premium phone. I am not sure if that is good or bad for the cellphone maker (like apple) as opposed to the carrier.
post #12 of 110

So... Theoretically, Apple could stop with all the SKU's they have of different carrier phones... and essentially provide completely unlocked phones across the board? I mean... Even though you're buying an unlocked phone from AT&T, Verizon, Etc.. You're still locked into a contract... So the carriers have nothing to lose. 

 

Makes Apples inventory much cleaner. Or am I wrong?

post #13 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by ttollerton View Post

Harry Reid has over 200 bills from the House waiting for him to take to the floor.

Know what you're talking about before spitting it.
So do those bills include the one that wants to impeach Obama for being President while black?

What a maroon....
post #14 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by ttollerton View Post


Harry Reid has over 200 bills from the House waiting for him to take to the floor.

Know what you're talking about before spitting it.

 

mhm.... let's not ignore the wisdom of "quality over quantity"...  

 

I'm guessing roughly 50 of those 200 are related to repealing the ACA.

 

Another 50 hastily cobbled together and forced through with a slim margin related to undermining specific sections (aka line-item disruption) of the ACA and...

 

Another 50 "sense of Congress" bills pushed through hastily to protest the very existence of the ACA...

 

Another 40 bills related to lowering taxes on the rich while cutting critical programs from all levels of government and a faux "jobs bill" here and there....  one or two related to questioning Obama's citizenship and.... one bill enabling a memorial statue of a civil war hero to be erected in a park in Ohio.

 

And Reid? He certainly has better things to do with the time spent waiting for a "do nothing Congress" to get off their collective asses and start legislating to the ACTUAL benefit of all of us...

 

We have some interminable problems that are getting ZERO congressional action or focus. But they've got time to sue the President using taxpayer's dollars!!!

 

Anything else?

 

 

PS: note, I am indeed making up pretty much the entire "list" of House bills pending before the Senate. However, a closer look will illustrate that there isn't much worthy of the Senate's time being sent to the Senate. And so my satirical approach has valid context.

post #15 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sacto Joe View Post


So do those bills include the one that wants to impeach Obama for being President while black?

What a maroon....

 

no that's spelled "moran".... as in, "get it right, moran!"

post #16 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sacto Joe View Post


So do those bills include the one that wants to impeach Obama for being President while black?

What a maroon....

Do you want to see a moron (notice the spelling)?  Go look in the mirror.

 

There is no bill to impeach Obama that has passed and is sitting in the Senate (which is not how impeachment works).  And certainly no bill to impeach Obama because of his race.  In fact, no bill at all is used in impeachment.   That Republicans want to impeach Obama, or oppose him at all, due to his race is the straw man that the media and liberals put up (aka "race card") to deflect away from the amateur in the White House who screws up everything he touches.  Opposition to Obama has nothing to do with his race and everything to do with his policies, ideology, and abilities (or lack there of).

post #17 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by tribalogical View Post
 

 

mhm.... let's not ignore the wisdom of "quality over quantity"...  

 

I'm guessing roughly 50 of those 200 are related to repealing the ACA.

 

Another 50 hastily cobbled together and forced through with a slim margin related to undermining specific sections (aka line-item disruption) of the ACA and...

 

Another 50 "sense of Congress" bills pushed through hastily to protest the very existence of the ACA...

 

Another 40 bills related to lowering taxes on the rich while cutting critical programs from all levels of government and a faux "jobs bill" here and there....  one or two related to questioning Obama's citizenship and.... one bill enabling a memorial statue of a civil war hero to be erected in a park in Ohio.

 

And Reid? He certainly has better things to do with the time spent waiting for a "do nothing Congress" to get off their collective asses and start legislating to the ACTUAL benefit of all of us...

 

We have some interminable problems that are getting ZERO congressional action or focus. But they've got time to sue the President using taxpayer's dollars!!!

 

Anything else?

 

 

PS: note, I am indeed making up pretty much the entire "list" of House bills pending before the Senate. However, a closer look will illustrate that there isn't much worthy of the Senate's time being sent to the Senate. And so my satirical approach has valid context.

 

Reid has blocked all substantial bills that have come out of the House.   The "Do Nothing" Congress is in the Senate, not the House.

post #18 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sacto Joe View Post

So do those bills include the one that wants to impeach Obama for being President while black?

What a maroon....

Are you serious?
post #19 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadbag View Post

Do you want to see a moron (notice the spelling)?  Go look in the mirror.

There is no bill to impeach Obama that has passed and is sitting in the Senate (which is not how impeachment works).  And certainly no bill to impeach Obama because of his race.  In fact, no bill at all is used in impeachment.   That Republicans want to impeach Obama, or oppose him at all, due to his race is the straw man that the media and liberals put up (aka "race card") to deflect away from the amateur in the White House who screws up everything he touches.  Opposition to Obama has nothing to do with his race and everything to do with his policies, ideology, and abilities (or lack there of).

Well there is this... Which is what I immediately thought of.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=maroon

I guess it's who's ox is being gored...just one quick example-

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/republicans-legislation-obama-dccc-event-106481.htm
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post #20 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadbag View Post
 

Do you want to see a moron (notice the spelling)?  Go look in the mirror.

 

There is no bill to impeach Obama that has passed and is sitting in the Senate (which is not how impeachment works).  And certainly no bill to impeach Obama because of his race.  In fact, no bill at all is used in impeachment.   That Republicans want to impeach Obama, or oppose him at all, due to his race is the straw man that the media and liberals put up (aka "race card") to deflect away from the amateur in the White House who screws up everything he touches.  Opposition to Obama has nothing to do with his race and everything to do with his policies, ideology, and abilities (or lack there of).


It is spelled correctly.  Ever watch Looney Tunes?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_Kh7nLplWo

post #21 of 110
Most people have no concept or understanding of the actual cost of their wireless contract -- phone line. AT&T gives them a $450 discount on the phone in exchange for a 2 year commitment, and they don't smell the dinosaur-size rat hiding behind that "gift". It's basic arithmetic any 8 year old should be able to do, but somehow all they see is the lower upfront cost ("I need the subsidies, I would never have been able to pay for the iPhone 5s otherwise!")

It's not really more up front cost; it's more transparency. I expect the other carriers to follow what T-Mobile is doing (and most European carriers, too): give a low interest loan so that you pay for the phone with your monthly bill over two years. Anything that hurts AT&T and Verizon is good for the consumer.
post #22 of 110
As others have said it's a good thing and carriers likely not to lose because contracts are tied for their duration anyway.

Just it increases the amount of available phones hence it's a win for the consumer. If you have a phone that is locked to a provider you don't want to use a solution is to buy a new one. Not anymore now.

I doubt it's gonna be a big impact for the carriers themselves. But it may stir up competition a bit if people are more free to move to a different carrier as they can use their phone on anyone's now.

So overall I think it's a big win for the consumer.

@Blazar, who knows perhaps subsidies getting even bigger in the future as carriers try to keep their consumers and one way would be offering upgrades (renewed 2 year contracts) for less...
post #23 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by manfrommars View Post
 

I'm just surprised that a piece of legislation came out of the House.

 

Every piece by law has to, why are your surprised? 100s others are on Reid's desk that he won't bring to the floor for discussion/vote. 

post #24 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sacto Joe View Post


So do those bills include the one that wants to impeach Obama for being President while black?

What a maroon....

 

There is no impeachment issued, get over it. Stop trying to make talking points where there are none. 

 

While black. LMAO, this is the only thing I still like about him. 

post #25 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by tribalogical View Post

 

PS: note, I am indeed making up pretty much the entire "list" of House bills pending before the Senate. However, a closer look will illustrate that there isn't much worthy of the Senate's time being sent to the Senate. And so my satirical approach has valid context.

 

Therefore, why do its job. I see that applies to the absent president also. Not worth my time, I'll go golfing LOL 

post #26 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by tribalogical View Post
 

And Reid? He certainly has better things to do with the time spent waiting for a "do nothing Congress" to get off their collective asses and start legislating to the ACTUAL benefit of all of us...

 

 

You do realize the Senate is part of Congress, don't you?? The do nothing is as much the Senate, if not more. 

post #27 of 110
When is everyone going to realize that subsidized phones cost you much more? Oh right, never%u2026
post #28 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadbag View Post

Do you want to see a moron (notice the spelling)?  Go look in the mirror.

The OP had it spelled correctly. It's a Bugs Bunny reference which you obviously didn't get, and it's not the first time it's been discussed.
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post #29 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacManFelix View Post

When is everyone going to realize that subsidized phones cost you much more? Oh right, never%u2026

And your house cost you so much more, and your car, your TV, your vacation, I could go on and on. Not everyone can nut up $650, $750, or $850 to get a phone outright. They're content paying more over time just like they do with their house, their car, and everything else they buy on credit.
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post #30 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordJohnWhorfin View Post

Most people have no concept or understanding of the actual cost of their wireless contract -- phone line. AT&T gives them a $450 discount on the phone in exchange for a 2 year commitment, and they don't smell the dinosaur-size rat hiding behind that "gift". It's basic arithmetic any 8 year old should be able to do, but somehow all they see is the lower upfront cost ("I need the subsidies, I would never have been able to pay for the iPhone 5s otherwise!")

It's not really more up front cost; it's more transparency. I expect the other carriers to follow what T-Mobile is doing (and most European carriers, too): give a low interest loan so that you pay for the phone with your monthly bill over two years. Anything that hurts AT&T and Verizon is good for the consumer.

It will be a big blow to the manufacturers if subsidies end. People won't upgrade every 2 years. There's already a drop in sales of the iPad, a unsubsidized iPhone will only follow suit.
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post #31 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Getz View Post
 

 

You do realize the Senate is part of Congress, don't you?? The do nothing is as much the Senate, if not more. 

 

Of course I do... I went to school before they all but removed Social Studies (aka "how our Constitutional Republic works") from the curriculum... 

 

I'll be more specific just for you: "the do nothing (Republican-majority) House, and obstructionist do-nothing Republican minority in the Senate", collectively referred to as, "The Do-nothing Congress". 

 

I'm pretty sure you already understood all that, but I thought I ought to clarify nonetheless.

 

Claro? 


Edited by tribalogical - 7/25/14 at 8:15pm
post #32 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadbag View Post
 

 

Reid has blocked all substantial bills that have come out of the House.   The "Do Nothing" Congress is in the Senate, not the House.

 

Name one "substantial bill" that has come out of the House, that Reid has "blocked" (and how he has done that "blocking" exactly), and we'll talk more. Until then, I call hooey, hogwash AND simple-minded propaganda....

post #33 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by ttollerton View Post


Are you serious?

Actually, the full line is, "what a cad, what a maroon!"

 

And since he's quoting Bugs Bunny from Looney Tunes, I'm not sure how serious he is (or how serious you should be)....

post #34 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordJohnWhorfin View Post

Most people have no concept or understanding of the actual cost of their wireless contract -- phone line. AT&T gives them a $450 discount on the phone in exchange for a 2 year commitment, and they don't smell the dinosaur-size rat hiding behind that "gift". It's basic arithmetic any 8 year old should be able to do, but somehow all they see is the lower upfront cost ("I need the subsidies, I would never have been able to pay for the iPhone 5s otherwise!")

It's not really more up front cost; it's more transparency. I expect the other carriers to follow what T-Mobile is doing (and most European carriers, too): give a low interest loan so that you pay for the phone with your monthly bill over two years. Anything that hurts AT&T and Verizon is good for the consumer.

 

I paid cash for my iPhone 5s 64GB model. I use T-Mobile service, prepaid @ a flat $50/mo, no extra taxes, fees or subsidies. I get unlimited voice, text & data (incl ~1GB/mo at 4G LTE speeds)... so my cost per month, divided into 24 months is about $80... would be less if I had bought the 32GB model...

 

I had my last iPhone for almost 4 years. I replaced a 3GS with this one. I expect I'll keep the 5s for at least 3 years, so my monthly average cost will be more like $70... 

 

The last time I was with AT&T, for a similar level of service, I never got under $100 (and usually closer to $120) every month.

 

Not going there again.............. and now we can subsidize a phone from T-Mobile for $20/mo. above the base charges? Hard to beat that really...

post #35 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sacto Joe View Post

So do those bills include the one that wants to impeach Obama for being President while black?

What a maroon....
post #36 of 110
The President is black?
post #37 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadbag View Post
 

Do you want to see a moron (notice the spelling)?  Go look in the mirror.

 

There is no bill to impeach Obama that has passed and is sitting in the Senate (which is not how impeachment works).  And certainly no bill to impeach Obama because of his race.  In fact, no bill at all is used in impeachment.   That Republicans want to impeach Obama, or oppose him at all, due to his race is the straw man that the media and liberals put up (aka "race card") to deflect away from the amateur in the White House who screws up everything he touches.  Opposition to Obama has nothing to do with his race and everything to do with his policies, ideology, and abilities (or lack there of).

Don't tell me you never heard of Bugs Bunny? As for the rest - talk to the hand.

post #38 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Capnbob View Post

I assume the ETfs are all still in force but they can't just hold your device hostage as well. The contracts will all still work the same way.

The situation was already much better than it has been but this will allow a lot of orphan devices to be brought back into prepaid service etc.

They don't have to hold the device hostage when they are using incompatible technology or frequency bands. This is why you can't switch between Verizon and any "normal" GSM carrier, because Version doesn't operate on GSM at all. You can only use a LTE device that supports both carriers bands, and even then, nobody is using VoLTE yet, it's mostly just LTE for data.

Like in the US, the value of removing carrier lock (aka SIM lock) is dubious at best. It should be done automatically when the device reaches the end of the contract stipulated in the computer (and trust me, that IS in the computer.) It should also be done manually if the owner of the device cancels the contract but buys out the device. There are also subsidy locks on devices, these prevent a reseller from selling a "new" device as a discounted upgrade. Basically that subsidy lock is an anti-theft deterrent which will damage the device if attempted.

Generally unlocked devices enable the device to be wiped and resold instead of being landfilled, which is the entire point.
post #39 of 110
I agree though you clearly aren't aware that since the 4S all the iphones have basically been the same. The carriers use different frequencies/bands but the phones are the same. A Verizon 5S would work on AT&T if they didn't specially lock it. VZ can unlock the GSM subsystem to work on any GSM carrier in the world EXCEPT AT&T/T-Mob USA. I've bought VZ/Sprint iPhone 4S that work fine on all GSM bands except in the US.
Unlocked phones sell for WAY more and can be used anywhere in the world. I recycle all my old AT&T phones to European family. I also hope that now AT&T will have to unlock an iPhone 4 I bought off eBay to give to my aunt but won't because it has not been on my account for at least 6 months. RipOff.
post #40 of 110

Glad to see this thread stayed on topic, as we all knew it would.

 

Originally Posted by Richard Getz View Post
You do realize the Senate is part of Congress, don't you?? The do nothing is as much the Senate, if not more. 

 

I’m so sick of that. “Senators and Congressmen”, they say. They’re imbeciles! Senators and Representatives. They’re BOTH congressmen!

 

Originally Posted by tribalogical View Post

I'll be more specific just for you: "the do nothing (Republican-majority) House, and obstructionist do-nothing Republican minority in the Senate", collectively referred to as, "The Do-nothing Congress". 

 

How can a minority obstruct? How can a body that passes bills be “do-nothing”?

 

Originally Posted by Capnbob View Post
A Verizon 5S would work on AT&T if they didn't specially lock it.

 

But not with LTE.

 
VZ can unlock the GSM subsystem to work on any GSM carrier in the world EXCEPT AT&T/T-Mob USA.

 

Sold unlocked from all sources. Works fine on US GSM–again, without LTE.

 
Unlocked phones sell for WAY more and can be used anywhere in the world.

 

Sort of. It all depends on the bands supported.

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