US carriers have to unlock off-contract cell phones
In the United States, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association ( CTIA) set up a new policy agreement that states the fact that all important wireless companies ought to abide to this new regulation about device unlocking. These guidelines demand carriers to make public their policies on prepaid and postpaid device unlocking. Also, the carriers need to offer unlocks to all the users of postpaid devices and prepaid devices after just one year.
In other words, all important US carriers have to follow these brand new regulations. Although, this does not mean that all carrier will choose similar policies when it comes to unlocking devices or to what type of devices they will unlock while the users is till on contract. The most important cell-phones companies will have the possibility to view and analyze each company`s policies.
A long and twisted way towards adopting the new regulations
It is known the fact that the way towards legalizing cell phone unlocks has been a bit difficult. The Library of Congress offered some exceptions to DMCA`s interdiction on bypassing any kind of copy protection. It denied granting the exemption stating the fact that carriers provide a form of unlocking procedure or policy.
This underlined a major problem in the DMCA. The interdiction on bypassing any kind of copy protection meant that there is not any sustained right to continue after the expiration of the Library of Congress. So, this ended with the refusal of some providers to offer unlock options, which led to users to have little to no option.
This problem was solved in two ways. The CTIA offered some policy rules that were accepted by all important carriers. The deadline for this variant was February 2014. The other consisted in the fact that the President Obama signed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act in August 2014. This bill made legal what the Library of Congress tried to achieve and provided to the consumers the right to unlock their own devices. This also means that the US abandoned one of the points stipulated in the Trans Pacific Partnership Treaty which stated that the unlocking of a cellphone should be illegal.
Anyway, only unlocking your device does not imply you will be able to switch between providers. The compatibility is strictly linked with the phone`s modem and configuration.