February 11, 2015 - 2:40 pm

One year ago, the FCC announced a voluntary commitment among a number of mobile wireless service providers to adopt policies that allow their customers to switch networks while keeping their existing devices – a process called cell phone unlocking.  That commitment came with a one-year deadline. Today, we are proud to report that the country’s major providers have met their commitment.

Specifically, the principles adopted into the CTIA Consumer Code for Wireless Service include pro-consumer provisions on disclosure, postpaid and prepaid unlocking, notice, customer response time, and unlocking phones for deployed military personnel.  When CTIA adopted these six principles, participating providers committed to a one-year implementation deadline.  

Under this commitment, participating wireless providers will unlock your postpaid mobile device upon request, provided the terms and conditions of your service contract or installment plan have been met and your account is in good standing.  Participating wireless providers will unlock prepaid mobile devices no later than one year after initial activation, consistent with reasonable time and usage requirements.  Participating providers will clearly notify you when your postpaid device is eligible for unlocking if the device is not automatically unlocked.  Additionally, your wireless provider will post on its website a clear, concise, and easily found policy on mobile wireless device unlocking.

We congratulate CTIA and the participating wireless providers for reaching this important milestone.  Full implementation of the unlocking principles is a positive development for both consumers and wireless providers, as it increases competition to innovate.     

Consumers should contact their wireless service provider to find out when and how a device may be unlocked.  To learn more about cell phone unlocking, visit our consumer education website and read our FAQs for consumers