FCC on cellphone unlocking – a summary

So it seems like everyone and their granny are creating content with AI tools so I gave OpenAI a prompt, basically a command to summarize what the FCC says on there webpage about cell phone unlocking – this page.

Remember, to swim in the sea of eSIM goodness you need an unlocked phone!

eSIMplanet – Jan 2023

So here is the summary it made:

Key Points and Takeaways:

  1. Unlocking a cell phone allows the user to move the phone from one network to another compatible network.
  2. The unlocking process varies by device and by carrier.
  3. The CTIA has adopted six standards on mobile wireless device unlocking into the CTIA Consumer Code for Wireless Service.
  4. Carriers will unlock postpaid mobile wireless devices for customers or former customers after fulfillment of the applicable service contract or device installment plan, or payment of an early termination fee.
  5. Carriers will unlock prepaid mobile wireless devices no later than one year after initial activation, consistent with reasonable time, payment, or usage requirements.
  6. Carriers will unlock mobile wireless devices for deployed military personnel who are customers in good standing upon provision of deployment papers.
  7. Contact your wireless service provider to find out when and how your phone may be unlocked.
  8. Unlocked devices may support voice services but not data services.
  9. Unlocked devices are not necessarily made compatible with other networks and may not work on international networks.
  10. Contact the FCC’s Consumer Center for more information about cell phone unlocking and other telecommunications issues.

So from the summary above if you’re on a pre-pay plan you’re SOL, but you probably have a contract anyway so you can’t just walk away from the carrier.Verizon used to have incompatible phone for Europe, CDMA not GSM but that seems to not be the case now (point 9).

Also, from my research on unlocking at the websites of the carriers I gleaned that it may take up to 48h to unlock your phone. So be sure to unlock your phone BEORE YOU LEAVE THE USA for international travel.

Summary and take aways

I tell all my pals to NEVER buy a phone though a carrier. iPhone users can buy it directly from apple unlocked and can pay it off for 2 years, interest free. Samsung users should can the same thing I believe.

Samsung financing details here.

Apple financing details here.