Wireless carriers willing to unlock mobile phones for a price--literally

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Five U.S. wireless carriers told the FCC they're willing bow to the pressure of customers who want their phones unlocked--but they have a few demands of their own. Chief among them, customers better be ready to pony up some cash.

CTIA, the organization representing AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and US Cellular, filed a letter with the FCC outlining what the carriers are willing to do and what they're asking in return. In exchange for unlocking a mobile device, postpaid customers may be expected to buy the phone outright while prepaid customers who already own their phone may be required to have service for one year before they're eligible for unlocking.

As part of the agreement, carriers volunteered to be forthright with customers about their unlocking eligibility, including displaying their policies on the company website. eWeek's Wayne Rash says the carrier's willingness to play ball doesn't end there.

"Carriers also agreed that they would notify postpaid customers when they're eligible to have their phones unlocked and either automatically unlock them or provide unlocking information. Prepaid customers would get the details when they sign up. The carriers also agreed to a two-day response time for unlock requests," notes Rash. "Finally, the carriers agreed to unlock the devices of military personnel with deployment orders on request as long as they're in good standing and provide a copy of their orders."

Of course, there's the whole matter of what the Library of Congress will have to say about this agreement since they recently declared unlocking illegal, but they're staying mum for now. For its part, CTIA seems willing to bring as many players to the table as they can to get the agreement pushed through. An organization spokesperson told eWeek, "We welcome additional carriers to sign on to the principles and are pleased several have indicated interest in participating."

For more:
- read eWeek's article

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