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April29, 2014

The Honorable Tom Wheeler


Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street, Southwest

Washington, DC 20554

Dear Chairman Wheeler:

We write to request an update on efforts to protect consumer choice in the secondary

market for used mobile devices. We appreciate the work the Commission did to conclude the

voluntary agreement with the carriers to make the unlocking process easier for individual

consumers. Nevertheless, we remain concerned in some cases the bulk unlocking process is

needlessly complicated and cumbersome for consumers using third-party resellers to unlock their

wireless phones.

As you know, many consumers seeking to upgrade mobile phones will sell their used

devices to have funds necessary to purchase a new device or otherwise responsibly reduce

clutter. Unfortunately, it is much more difficult for owners of phones which are locked to a

carrier to fmd a second life for their phones. In the past, bulk resellers have been able to buy old

locked phones at rates comparable to that of unlocked phones, and handle the unlocking

process-which can be a tedious and multi-day affair for an individual consumer-on behalf of

their customers. These resellers depend on established relationships with carriers to unlock

phones quickly and efficiently, so long as appropriate identifying information is presented and

contractual obligations have been met.

However, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, at least one carrier has stopped

accepting bulk unlocking requests by resellers, reducing the resale value of a used device by as

much as $100. This action can suppress competition in the resale market, making it more

difficult for consumers who would like to put old devices to good use and reducing the supply

for buyers who might not be able to afford a phone at full price. We are concerned that this

decision threatens a formerly vibrant used mobile device market in which consumers received

competitive offers for their eligible devices regardless of whether the device was locked.

We strongly believe consumers should be able to realize the value in the mobile devices

they already own in the same way consumers enjoy most personal and real property. We are

pleased with CTIA's voluntary mobile wireless device unlocking commitment, announced

December 12, 2013, and recognize the commitment as an important step in enabling consumers

to freely use the mobile devices they rightfully own. However, the commitment does not address

legitimate resellers, and we encourage the Commission to work with the carriers to address our




We also want to emphasize that we support efforts by carriers and law enforcement

agencies to stop the proliferation of devices obtained by theft or fraud. Many of us are at the

forefront of the effort in the Senate to eliminate mobile device theft and associated violent crime.

We agree that new devices should not be bought and sold under fraudulent circumstances so as

to immediately capture the carrier's subsidy for a mobile device. However, there exist legitimate

resellers who have strict checks in place and vet customers using the same comprehensive lost or

stolen device database used by wireless carriers. Accordingly, we should work to promote

consumers' ability to engage in business with legitimate resellers.

We appreciate your attention to important issue on behalf of consumers and look forward

to hearing what steps are being taken in this important area.



A~ lL\~



United States Senate

United States Senate

United States Senate

United States Senate

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United States Senate


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