At the beginning of this year we shared that it became illegal to unlock cellphones for the purposes of taking them to a different carrier. Obviously this is a contentious issue, and most folks were outraged, (or at least mildly annoyed). It was one of the hottest discussion topics of the early part of 2013. In fact, it even ended up the subject of a massive petition which made its way to the White House. As it turns out, the Obama Administration was in agreement with most of the general public that cell phone carriers in the U.S. need to start unlocking cell phones for customers. Several actions were taken, including a push from the White House to get new regulations passed at the FCC. Also, a couple of bills were introduced in Congress on the subject in a rare bi-partisan approach, but nothing actually got accomplished.

It seems that the White House is done waiting for Congress to get anything passed, and are finally following up on the subject to keep the ball rolling. This time the Obama Administration filed its own petition with the Federal Communications Commission pressuring them to require Carriers to allow customers to unlock their phones if they choose to do so. Here's a quote with a few more details,

In March, the Obama administration said that consumers should be allowed to own “unlocked” phones, which spurred new bill proposals and committee discussions about the issue. The FCC also said it supported cellphone unlocking.

But, while there have been small steps toward making cellphone unlocking standard, the idea had lost some momentum, and the administration appears to be trying to bring it back into the legislative arena.

Some argue that making it legal to unlock cellphones could make it too easy for consumers to take copyrighted software between carriers. But in Tuesday’s petition to the FCC, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration said that allowing unlocked devices would increase competition and consumer choice, while also putting the burden of changing networks on companies rather than consumers.

“Americans should be able to use their mobile devices on whatever networks they choose and have their devices unlocked without hassle,” said Lawrence Strickling, assistant secretary of the NTIA.
It's at least encouraging to see that something is being done, even if the process is glacially slow...

Source: Washington Post