When cell phone users change between compatible wireless service providers, they have the option of "unlocking" their phones to use on their new service provider's network, giving consumers greater freedom and flexibility while increasing incentives for service providers to innovate. Here are several FAQs to help you better understand cell phone unlocking and how it relates to you.

  • What is mobile phone and device locking?  expand and contract
  • Which service providers implemented the standards on unlocking mobile devices?  expand and contract
  • Why do providers lock mobile wireless devices?  expand and contract
  • Is my cell phone currently locked?  expand and contract
  • How can I unlock my mobile phone?  expand and contract
  • Are mobile devices besides phones locked, too?  expand and contract
  • Will my provider unlock my phone?  expand and contract
  • Will my postpaid phone be unlocked on request?  expand and contract
  • When is my device eligible for unlocking?  expand and contract
  • Will my prepaid phone be unlocked on request?  expand and contract
  • Will my phone automatically be unlocked when my service contract has been fulfilled?  expand and contract
  • Will I be charged fees to unlock my device?  expand and contract
  • Are there military exceptions to allow devices to be unlocked early for deployments?  expand and contract
  • Can my mobile service provider refuse to unlock my phone because I owe them money or am currently under contract?  expand and contract
  • Will my unlocked mobile device work on all networks?  expand and contract
  • Will unlocking my device enable it to work on international networks?  expand and contract

Printable Version

Cell Phone Unlocking FAQs (pdf)


Date Last Updated/Reviewed: 
Tuesday, December 31, 2019