FCC Proposes New Rule for Cellphone Unlocking

FCC Proposes New Rule for Cellphone Unlocking

Anastasia Petrovna
2 min read

FCC Proposes New Rule for Cellphone Unlocking

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has unveiled a new proposal aimed at simplifying the process of unlocking cellphones for consumers. If this proposal is sanctioned, mobile providers will be mandated to unlock phones within 60 days of activation. Currently, consumers are reliant on their service provider to unlock their devices and are required to be in good standing, often entailing full payment of the phone or an early termination fee. The proposed changes seek to augment consumer autonomy and foster competition by ensuring transparency and uniformity. FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel stressed the significance of empowering consumers to switch carriers without being hindered by their devices. The FCC is scheduled to deliberate and vote on this proposal during an open meeting on July 18th, after which they will actively seek public input on the rule, including its applicability to existing or future contracts and its potential impact on smaller service providers and phone resellers.

Key Takeaways

  • FCC proposes rule to unlock phones within 60 days of activation.
  • Current rules necessitate consumers to be in "good standing" with providers.
  • New rules aim to boost consumer flexibility and competition.
  • FCC to vote on rulemaking on July 18th.
  • Proposal includes seeking comments on benefits for smaller providers and resellers.


The FCC's proposed rule could potentially disrupt the revenue streams of mobile service providers, especially if consumers churn to other carriers after unlocking their devices. Major carriers like AT&T and Verizon might experience increased customer turnover, while smaller providers and resellers could gain from acquiring new customers. In the short term, this shift may prompt strategic adjustments in pricing and service offerings. In the long run, increased consumer mobility could cultivate a more competitive market, potentially spurring innovation and better consumer service.

Did You Know?

  • FCC (Federal Communications Commission):
    • The FCC is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for regulating communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable across the nation. It plays a crucial role in setting policies and standards for telecommunications and broadcasting.
  • Unlocking Cellphones:
    • Unlocking a cellphone refers to the process of removing a network restriction on a mobile device, allowing it to be used on other networks. This is particularly beneficial for consumers who wish to switch service providers without changing their physical device.
  • Early Termination Fee:
    • An early termination fee is a charge imposed by mobile service providers on customers who wish to end their contract before its scheduled completion date. This fee is intended to compensate the provider for the discounted price of the device provided at the start of the contract.

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