House Passes Watered Down Cell Unlocking Bill
The House has officially passed the "Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act
." The good news? The act repeals a decision made in January of 2013 that technically made unlocking your cellphone illegal
after the Librarian of Congress removed it from the DMCA exception list. The bad news? The EFF notes that several provisions included in the bill made sure that it did significantly less for consumers that it could have
That resulted in most consumer advocates pulling their support for the bill. Says the EFF:
Bulk unlockers acquire phones from a variety of sources, unlock them, and then resell them. By expressly excluding them, this new legislation sends two dangerous signals: (1) that Congress is OK with using copyright as an excuse to inhibit certain business models, even if the business isn’t actually infringing anyone’s copyright; and (2) that Congress still doesn’t understand the collateral damage Section 1201 is causing. For example, bulk unlocking not only benefits consumers, it's good for the environment—unlocking allows re-use, and that means less electronic waste...
The bill now heads to the Senate for a vote. The EFF and consumer advocates prefer a different House bill (The Unlocking Technology Act of 2013
) because it "would limit violations of section 1201 to actual cases of copyright infringement." Annoyance over the cell unlocking restrictions resulted in a White House website petition
, in turn resulting in the White House (via the NTIA) nudging the FCC
to create new Part 20 rules making unlocking legal once again.
That didn't happen.
Instead, FCC boss Tom Wheeler sent a letter to the wireless industry
(pdf) urging them to move more quickly to adopt voluntary
guidelines requiring they make unlocking requirements clear, allow auto-unlocking after contracts expire, grant unlock approvals or denials in just a few days, and automatically inform users when they're able to unlock their devices. That's not to be confused with requiring that carriers sell unlocked handsets.
These all continue to be half measures that aren't giving consumers, or consumer advocates, what they actually want.
Re: I'd want region locks Well guess what? I feel completely the opposite. The ability to use my phone overseas is the most important reason to not allow SIM-locks of any kind. The fact that AT&T bullies people into not being able to even use pre-paid SIM cards overseas is completely ridiculous and should be illegal. I'd much rather existing theft laws be used to deal with phone theft. Theft is already a crime, we don't need additional bullcrap to make it a double-crime.
Re: I'd want region locks
said by IowaCowboy:You apparently don't have any idea how much AT&T and Verizon charge for international roaming, or how much it costs to rent another phone. Unless you don't plan to use it more than a few minutes a day, it is usually cheaper to BUY a phone, and get a local SIM.
I think if you want to use an iPhone overseas you should have to pay international roaming with the region lock in place. I know Verizon used to (they may still have) a handset rental program where you can rent an international capable phone.
When I've worked for a few weeks in another country, I also found it was very useful to have a local phone number. Your suggestion for a dual-SIM phone is interesting, but not practical for today's phones. The iPhone has downsized their SIM twice in its short lifetime, leaving more room for the battery and other electronics.
| |quetwoThat VoIP GuyPremium
East Lansing, MI
| As somebody who roams to Europe regularly for my job, I can tell you that you that one trip could easily blow away the cost of a $750 phone. With Verizon, and no discounts on an international capable phone, you are at $1.72/minute and $1.25/sms for domestic or international calls. Last I checked, it was something like $0.15/MB for data too. Calls to other cell phones result in an additional $1.25/minute upcharge. So, essentially, within 250 minutes, no texts and no data, you would have a brand new iPhone.|
A pre-paid SIM card would give me about 1,200 minutes for about $15 on Deutsche Telekom.
| |Steve MehsGun Control Is Using A Steady HandPremium
Re: I'd want region locks
quote:So you want to impose restrictions on something that makes it more expensive and difficult to do something in which you have no first hand experience in?
I've never traveled overseas....
Re: Unlock? Part of the agreement I signed when I bought my house states that I have to keep paying for 30 years. That doesn't mean I can't paint the walls, add on an extra room, or otherwise do as I please with the house until those 30 years are up.
Part of the agreement I signed when I bought a car was that I have to keep paying for 4 years. That doesn't prevent me from taking the car to another country, adding non-OEM-approved parts, or otherwise prevent me from doing as I please with the car until those 4 years are up.
Now, on the other hand, when I signed up for Dish, I had an agreement to keep paying for 2 years, but I can't do as I please with the receiver they sent me. Why? Because it's leased. I have to give it back if I cancel service, but Dish will replace it if it breaks.
Same goes for my cable modem. I'm leasing it from Comcast and have to give it back if I cancel service, but Comcast will replace it if it breaks.
So which is it with cell phones? Do you own them, or do you lease them? It seems like AT&T wants it both ways. I'm pretty sure I own my phone though, and am just paying it off over 2 years through a loan more or less. Which means, I have every damn legal right to use it as I see fit*, and AT&T is infringing on those rights by not unlocking my phone.
*Yes, there are obvious exceptions like not doing anything illegal, and staying within FCC guidelines, etc, just as there would be for my car or house.