“Wireless Carriers to Help Consumers Unlock Phones”
December 12, 2013
A huge step away from federal regulations has been noticed from major wireless carriers who are now allowing consumers to keep their cellphones after switching providers. Companeis such as AT&T Inc. Sprint Corp., T-Mobile USA Inc., U.S. Cellular Corp. and Verizon Wireless have agreed to unlock cellphones or ask the manufacturers to do so two days after costumer’s requests. The main ideology is that customers should not be forced or “locked into” using their phone with a single provider.
Although the idea and the thought behind this agreement is good, many customers are still unable to use their phones after switching providers because they may not be necessarily compatible with other carriers networks or data services. “Today’s commitment by wireless providers will provide consumers with more information about when, and how, to move their devices from one network to another compatible network, should they chose to do so,” said Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, who also backed the agreement. The new agreement is not without benefits for the providers, however. Carriers will charge a fee for unlocking the cellphone of noncustomers, but they will make sure that the prices will not be too high to scare away customers from unlocking their phone. Many large companies believe that this new agreement will increase the competition between the carriers.
This agreement seems to me to be a bit too slow for the modern world of cellphones. In Mexico for example, children of all ages know how to unlock their cellphones to be able to use the American phone with Mexican providers. Why do they unlock their phones, because it is much cheaper for them to buy an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy in the United States than it is for them to buy it in Mexico. Therefore they buy the American phone in the US and use it in Mexico. Such is the case for many international customers. The large providers in the United States may benefit form this agreement, however the international consumer does not. They are already paying for the cellphone that is expensive for them and they are able to unlock it on their own. Why would they then pay more for a provider to unlock it for them? Additionally for the local customer, many already know or could find someone to unlock their phone for them, will charging to unlock their phone help them switch to a new provider more frequently? I do not think that this agreement has been created at its fullest potential, although it is a closer move to the right path.