U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today said that the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) action on cell phone unlocking is a positive step forward for consumers. In a letter to wireless carriers, the FCC called on providers to work together and agree to standards on allowing consumers to unlock their phones so they can switch carriers while keeping their same device. The letter indicates that if the industry does not act voluntarily the FCC will regulate on this issue. Earlier this year, Klobuchar introduced the bipartisan Wireless Consumer Choice Act with Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Mike Lee (R-UT), which directed the FCC to take action on cell phone unlocking.
"Mobile devices are vital tools for families and businesses across Minnesota and the country, and there is no reason they shouldn't be able to change their service on phones that they have purchased," said Klobuchar. "This letter to the wireless industry echoes Congressional calls for action, and I will continue to work to give consumers the freedom to choose the plan that best meets their needs."
The FCC letter calls for the wireless industry to agree to policy that: provides a clear, concise, and readily accessible policy on unlocking; unlock mobile wireless devices for customers, former customers, and legitimate owners when the applicable service contract, installment plan, or ETF has been fulfilled; affirmatively notify customers when their devices are eligible for unlocking and/or automatically unlock devices when eligible, without an additional fee; process unlocking requests or provide an explanation of denial within two business days; and unlock devices for military personnel upon deployment.
Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and chairs the Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, and has been a leader in standing up for consumers and boosting competition in the marketplace. At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing earlier this year she pressed officials from the wireless industry to allow cell phone unlocking. She also authored legislation--the Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act--to strengthen consumer protections in the wireless industry, including looking at allowing consumers to unlock their phones.