There has been much debate over whether or not mobile phone owners should be allowed to unlock their devices so that they can use them on any rival network. Major U.S. carriers lock subscribers’ phones bought through them to their own networks to stop them from using those phones on a rival network. Things might change soon though as the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a new bill that would allow mobile phone users to unlock their phones and use them on any other carrier.
Even though the bill made it through the House with relative ease, passing with a 295-114 vote, Senate action is unknown and it is unclear at this point if the upper house is going to even consider the bill. As the law stands, subscribers unlocking their phones without permission can face legal consequences, including but not limited to jail time.
There has also been debate over “bulk unlocking.” There are third party companies that buy such mobile phones, unlock them and then sell them off again. The wireless industry opposes any measure that would let customers sell off their phones to such companies. The bill to make unlocking legal has widespread support in the House from both Republicans and Democrats, now all eyes are on Senate and that point of view it holds.