AT&T Will Now Unlock iPhones After Contract Expires!

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  1. #1
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    Default AT&T Will Now Unlock iPhones After Contract Expires!

    AT&T Will Unlock Out-of-Contract iPhones - NYTimes.com


    I actually thought this had been federally mandated already; but it appears to be official policy now.

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    Default Re: AT&T Will Now Unlock iPhones After Contract Expires!

    Quote Originally Posted by Varjak View Post
    AT&T Will Unlock Out-of-Contract iPhones - NYTimes.com


    I actually thought this had been federally mandated already; but it appears to be official policy now.
    Technically, it HAD been mandated. But they had a very, very strong profit motive in drawing it out and making it as difficult as humanly possible for a long time.

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    Default Re: AT&T Will Now Unlock iPhones After Contract Expires!

    Quote Originally Posted by Adama D. Brown View Post
    Technically, it HAD been mandated. But they had a very, very strong profit motive in drawing it out and making it as difficult as humanly possible for a long time.
    It's not mandated by any law or regulation that I'm aware of. Not in the United States.
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    Default Re: AT&T Will Now Unlock iPhones After Contract Expires!

    Quote Originally Posted by jigwashere View Post
    It's not mandated by any law or regulation that I'm aware of. Not in the United States.
    The FCC came out with a regulatory decision a couple years ago which established that carriers could not legally block the unlocking of phones for other networks, but most of the major carriers have been fighting this to a greater or lesser extent, at least where it comes to their bread and butter. The iPhone is a good example, where AT&T will unlock anything else you have, but they've gone out of their way to oppose iPhone unlocking.

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    Default Re: AT&T Will Now Unlock iPhones After Contract Expires!

    I wonder if AT&T is not pairing this new policy with the absolute lack of support for these then-recently unlocked devices. Or even rejection. Anyway, the core business of a carrier is connection, not devices. There will be tons of devices that they can remove from their tech support system, and such lack of support will pose a strong encouragement to upgrade devices among their customer base.
    "Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda. "Nothing is neither wear-proof, nor fail-proof, least fool-proof." - HAL. "Indeed, fool-proof inventions have been attempted, but don't work, fools are pretty witty ones." - Murphy's Law. "Even worse than a traitor, is a dumb@$$ with initiative." - Gral. Santa Ana
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    Unlocking phones is legal, but carriers are under no legal our regulatory obligation to unlock them for you.

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    Default Re: AT&T Will Now Unlock iPhones After Contract Expires!

    I think Adama's take is correct. Once the contract was satisfied, the phone was supposed to be yours.

    And I'm 99 percent sure that ATT wouldn't be doing it now unless they got some pressure.

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    Default Re: AT&T Will Now Unlock iPhones After Contract Expires!

    What Adama said is correct and it doesn't contradict anything I've stated.
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    Default Re: AT&T Will Now Unlock iPhones After Contract Expires!

    This is basically part of an ongoing regulatory tug-of-war.

    The FCC is pushing for a more open telecom system where any device can be used on any network. That's why LTE devices are being required to be cross-compatible, actually; requiring interoperability and an open network was a precondition to the making available the 700 MHz band for telecom providers. (Another condition which the carriers are still trying to fight tooth and nail.) The FCC wants to see devices automatically compatible with other networks, unlocked at the end of contracts, and able to be used on them with relative ease.

    The carriers on the other hand are trying to rely on technical compatibility, which is basically the claim that they're fulfilling their obligations to have an open network by not suing you to prevent you from doing anything they don't like. They'd like to point to a veneer of compatibility, while basically making it impossible to exercise that compatibility without jumping through hoops.

    This decision is also really not any significant skin off of AT&T's nose--rather, it's mostly a PR move. They get to appear to be open and compliant, but the reality is that very few people are probably going to take advantage of this. The only other major provider in the US they could unlock their iPhones for would be T-Mobile, and they would be unable to take advantage of T-Mobile's 3G or 4G network, since it's on completely different frequencies. Hence, the only things you could really do with one of these newly unlocked iPhones is move to a regional carrier, of which there's precious few left that are worth anything, or take it outside the US. It's sort of like the kidnapper telling you that you can leave any time, except that you're 50 miles out in the mountains and you'd have to walk back.

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    Default Re: AT&T Will Now Unlock iPhones After Contract Expires!

    It does sound like it's a PR move, based on a post here.
    This policy change came after Apple’s CEO Tim Cook requested last month that AT&T unlock the iPhone of a customer whose job relocated him to Canada, and he wanted to keep using his iPhone 3GS, which was no longer under contract, with a Canadian pay-as-you-go carrier. AT&T customers have long criticized the policy that kept them from switching their iPhone to another carrier even when it was paid off. The policy appears to only apply to U.S. customers.
    If you unlock it for one person, better unlock it for all.

    The reason I'm sticking to my position here is because questions and assertions about unlocking phones being some kind of law have come up here previously. While the FCC and even Congress has made waves -- there are no laws or regulations requiring carriers to unlock their phones for use on other networks. If anyone finds something to the contrary, please post your source.
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