Here’s a quick look at 10 common questions and answers relating to the FCC and its unlocking guidelines.
1) Is the FCC okay with consumers unlocking their cell phones?
Yes. There was a ban on unlocking phones, but it has been lifted.
2) What do the FCC guidelines mandate U.S. wireless carriers to do?
The guidelines instruct that five of the nation’s biggest US wireless carriers must inform their customers of the dates and stipulations related to when their phones can be unlocked.
3) Does the FCC implement a fee when a phone is unlocked?
No. The FCC mandates that carriers not charge an unlock fee when a consumer has met all ‘unlocking’ requirements. The providers themselves, however, may charge a fee if the consumer has not met the requirements, such as an Early Termination Fee.
4) Does the FCC decide when phones can be unlocked?
The FCC says that phones can be unlocked when the contract with the carrier has been fulfilled. If the contract has not been fulfilled and the carrier charges an Early Termination Fee, this fee must first be paid before the phone can be unlocked.
5) What does the FCC say about unlocking prepaid phones?
All prepaid phones can be unlocked, but there may be delayed unlocking dates. For example, some carriers will mandate that you cannot unlock a prepaid phone until after it has been activated for at least 60 days. All carriers must allow prepaid phones to be unlocked at least one year after initial activation.
6) Does the FCC unlock all phones once the contract has ended?
No. The FCC itself does not unlock phones, however, some carriers automatically unlock them after a contract is up.
7) What does the FCC say about unlocking phones for military members?
There are exceptions in which the FCC mandates that military members who are deployed internationally will receive the right to have their phones unlocked before a contract has been fulfilled, and most times, the associated accounts must be in good standing.
8) If I owe money on my phone but not the service itself, can I get my phone unlocked?
If you purchased your phone through a network carrier and your contract has ended but you still owe money on the phone, you will most likely be required to pay off the balance on your phone before you can unlock it.
9) Can a lost or stolen phone be unlocked?
Yes, but not if it is reported lost or stolen before it gets unlocked.
10) Will an unlocked phone work on any carrier?
No. The technology on your phone must be compatible with the technology being used by the network carrier. GSM Cell Phone will only work on a GSM Carrier and will not work on CDMA Network Provider, and CDMA Cell Phone will not work on GSM Carrier but only CDMA Service Provider.
If you would like more information on unlocking your phone, contact UnlockBase today.
If you have a cell phone that you would like to have unlocked, there’s a good chance that it is on a Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon network. Fortunately, unlocking a phone on any of these networks isn’t as difficult as you might think.
Sprint Unlock Policy
- You must be current on all payments
- You can’t have a write-off balance associated with the phone you want to unlock
- Your contract has been fulfilled
- If your contract isn’t fulfilled, you can pay an early termination fee
- Phone cannot be associated with a bill sent to collections
AT&T Unlock Policy
- Phone must be currently locked to AT&T network
- Phone cannot be reported lost or stolen
- Phone cannot be connected with any type of fraudulent activity
- Contract must be fulfilled or an early termination fee must be paid
- Phone must be associated with only one AT&T account
If phone was obtained through an early upgrade, the unlock cannot take place until 14 days have passed since the phone was activated. And finally if you own a prepaid/GoPhone AT&T phone, it must be active for 60+ days before it can be unlocked, and there can be no unpaid balance.
T-Mobile Unlock Policy
- Phone must be a T-Mobile device
- Phone cannot be reported lost or stolen
- The account the phone is connected to must be in good standing
- You can request only two unlock codes within 12 months
- All postpaid and/or prepaid balances must be paid in full
- The phone itself must be completely paid for
- Early termination fees must be paid if the account is canceled early
Verizon Unlock Policy
Please keep in mind that most devices obtained through a postpay service account with Verizon are not normally locked. Also, 4G LTE Verizon devices are not locked, meaning there is no unlock code needed to use them on a different carrier. 3G devices are not locked either, except for Global Ready 3G phones. To unlock these phones, either of the following unlock codes will work:
If you do not know how to access the unlock menu on a Global Ready 3G phone, simply give us a call and we can walk you through the process.
Almost all carriers have special processes you must go through to unlock a phone for Deployed Military Personnel reasons. View the features of UnlockBase today and learn more about the cell phone unlocking services that we provide.
The cost of roaming is overwhelming and confusing. If you’re with AT&T, it remains one of the most expensive carriers for using a cellphone internationally. Learn more about how much you’re paying in AT&T roaming fees, and two solutions to help avoid these costs by unlocking your phone.
Infographic | Avoid AT&T Roaming Costs by Unlocking Cell Phone
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