My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act makes Cellphone Unlocking Legal again - President Barack Obama upholds DMCA

Monday, August 11, 2014

Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act makes Cellphone Unlocking Legal again - President Barack Obama upholds DMCA

“Even though the vast majority of Americans enjoy upgrading to new devices once their contract terms are fulfilled, we recognize that some consumers may want to unlock their devices to move to another carrier. Like the voluntary commitment CTIA's carriers entered into last December, this bill enables that process. Users should keep in mind unlocked does not necessarily mean interoperable, as carrier platforms and spectrum holdings vary”

Vice President of Government Affairs at CTIA-The Wireless Association, Jot Carpenter, who represents AT&T, Sprint T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless, commenting on the Historic signing of the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

It has finally happened in the Great US of A, our smartphone loving neighbor to the North. And on my Birthday too as noted in my blog article entitled How to make Oreo Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes - My Chocolate Summer in Milk River as I'm dreaming of Swallowfield”.

On Friday August 1st 2014, President Barack Obama signed the “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act” (S.517) into law as stated in “President signs cell phone unlocking bill into law”, published August 1, 2014 2:42 PM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News and “Unlocking Your Cell Phone In The U.S. Is Officially Legal Again”, published August 1 2014, by Greg Kumparak, TechCrunch.

Curiously, this Act is only valid until 2015 as pointed out in “Thanks, Obama: Now you can legally unlock your smartphone if you want to”, published Aug 1, 2014 4:59 PM, by Florence Ion, Greenbot. Also, it’s set to be reviewed every three (3) years, a clause possibly put in place to address the concerns of Telecom Providers, who want this piece of legislation to reflect the changing reality of the Telecom Market, hence the review period. It’ll be the same battle again next year, but possible with a different President in the White House.

Still, due to the Bi-Partisan Support that this Bill garnered up to the point of signing, it may easily have been, at least in the eyes of the common man, the most important thing President Barack Obama has done for many Americans.

This is the very same Bill that had just reached the Senate Judiciary Committee made up of members of the Upper House of Senate of the US Congress on Thursday June 10th 2014 as stated in my blog article entitled Senate Judiciary Committee approve Smartphone Unlocking Bill on Thursday June 10th 2014 - Jamaicans access to unlocked smartphones to increase”.

Unlocking cellphones legal – Moments in Time that Led up to this point in History

This basically reversed the decision on the Library of Congress back in January 2013 that made cellphone unlocking illegal as explained in my blog article entitled Librarian of the Library of Congress makes smartphone unlocking Illegal - How Jamaica can benefit from the Safe Haven of MNP by banning unlocking of smartphones and Tablets”.

It has basically upheld the principle as laid down in the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) that had been in place that allowed Americans to unlock cellphones without the attendant prison fines as further explained in “Law changed to allow 'unlocking' cellphones”, published Aug 01, 2014 by Anne Flaherty, PhysOrg.

Americans will now find it easier to choose a cellphone carrier and switch between Carriers so long as their Cellphone contracts have expired in order to avoid the ETF (Early Termination Fees) for breaking their two (2) year contracts early.

Additionally Americans who travel often can now unlock their cellphones, particularly smartphones so as to take advantages of another Telecom Provider’s Network by just buying and popping in a SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) instead of having to pay expensive Roaming charges from their American Telecom Provider.

How to unlock your Smartphone in the US of A – Cave Canem as this isn’t for everyone

According to the Gigaom article “Now that it’s legal, here’s how to unlock your phone on all four U.S. carriers”, published JUL. 28, 2014 - 4:00 PM PDT by Kif Leswing, Gigaom, you can go to your Carrier and have it unlocked by them. This can of course be:

1.      AT&T
2.      Verizon
3.      Sprint
4.      T-Mobile
5.      US Cellular

AT&T, T-Mobile and US Cellular are GSM (Global Service Mobile); Verizon and Sprint are CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access). You’ll have to be mindful of a few things though:

1.      Name
2.      Account Number
3.      SSN
4.      IMEI (International Mobile Equiptment Number) usually located under the battery or by dialing *#06# 
5.      Phone number assigned to the phone
6.      Your overseas deployment papers if you’re in the military
7.      Your contract has to be finished. Carriers cannot unlock phones that still have time left on them

On reading this I realize that this law technical changes very little, as many who’ve signed to two (2) year Contracts cannot get their smartphones unlocked if their contract started this year. Worse, by the time some persons with more advanced contracts end next year the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act may have changed for the worse.

This is also good news for Internationals such a Jamaicans however. As what this will mean for Internationals purchases of smartphones is that once relatives send down smartphones, they can use the same instructions in my blog article entitled How to unlock any phone and put it on any Network - Guaranteed to unlock any Feature or Smartphone on the Chennai Express” and unlock their smartphones.

Ditto too Apple iPhones as pointed out in my blog article entitled How to Unlock your Apple iPhone - Backup, Erase and Restore with The Bag Man being iOS Setup Assistant”. With this law now freshly minted on my Birthday and signed by President Barack Obama, let’s see how well it fares by 2015. 

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