Al Franken and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have introduced a new bill that aims to make cellphone unlocking legal again. The new bill entitled Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act would allow cellphone owners to unlock their devices by themselves, or via a third-party. The bill was introduced after FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the recent unlocking ban “raises competition and innovation concerns". The bipartisan legislation is also backed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT.), Committee Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)
"Right now, folks who decide to change cellphone carriers are frequently forced to buy a new phone or risk the possibility of criminal penalties, and that’s just not fair for consumers," said Franken. "This bipartisan legislation will quickly allow consumers to unlock their current phones instead of having to purchase a new one. I support this commonsense solution to save consumers money."
AT&T has responded to the smartphone unlocking controversy sweeping the nation. If you do not know the story, here is a quick recap: On January 26, 2013 the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) exemption that made unlocking your cellular phone legal expired. This made it illegal to unlock your device without your carrier's permission. Smartphone users responded by posting a petition on the White House's We the People website. The petition gained over 100,000 signatures before 30 days, which prompted an official response from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
Genachowski said the ban “raises competition concerns,” as well as “innovation concerns", and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) responded by creating the Wireless Device Independence Act. This bill ensures people can unlock their devices without a carrier's permission.
Earlier this year, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) exemption that made unlocking your cell phone legal expired. This made it illegal for owners to unlock their cellular phones without their carrier's permission. Of course this did not sit well with most cell phone owners, and over 100,000 people have already signed a petition to make unlocking cell phones legal.
The petition was started on the "We the People" website where anyone can petition the government. The White House has promised to review and respond to any petition that receives 100,000 signatures within 30 days of being published. The unlocking cell phones petition currently has 108,936 signatures since it was created on Jan 24, 2013. This means the White House has to issue a response.
Ah the good old days, when we could unlock our iPhones ourselves and use them with the carrier of our choice. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) exemption that made unlocking your cellular phone completely legal expired on Saturday, January 26, 2013. From now on, you'll need your wireless carrier's permission to unlock.
So will this really make an impact on unlocked iPhones? Actually, right now all Verizon iPhones come from the factory unlocked, and AT&T will unlock any iPhone that's completed its two-year service agreement. You can also purchase an unlocked iPhone for the unsubsidized price out of contract. So what's the big deal?
Despite an AT&T official policy to the contrary, some iPhone owners have been able to unlock their iPhones while still in a service contract with the mobile carrier. Several users described by ArsTechnica initiated the unlock process via standard procedure on the web, and were approved even though their two-year service commitment had not been fulfilled.
AT&T started unlocking iPhones for customer accounts in good standing earlier this year. The instructions to unlock your AT&T iPhone are simple, requiring anywhere from a day to a week to take effect. After the process is complete, the unlocked iPhone can be used with SIM cards from other compatible carrier networks.
Online parts vendor Apple N Berry is offering a permanent unlock solution for AT&T iPhones. According to the product page, the AT&T iPhone IMEI Unlock allows your iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4, and 4S to stay permanently unlocked even after an iOS upgrade or SIM card swap.
Unlike SIM interposers, the AT&T iPhone IMEI Unlock requires no extra software, jailbreak or hardware to unlock your iPhone. All Apple N Berry requires is that it's an AT&T handset for it to work. The AT&T iPhone IMEI Unlock is $150 and requires 1 to 2 business days to be activated. The unlock comes with a money back guarantee, however, there has been no confirmation outside of Apple N Berry that this solution works.
While iOS 5.1.1 may have thrown jailbreakers a curveball, unlockers using the GEVEY Ultra S GSM with their GSM iPhone 4S will be happy to know it's safe to upgrade. According to online retailer ApplenBerry's Twitter feed, the GEVEY Ultra S GSM is compatible with iOS 5.1.1.
CDMA iPhone 4S or 4 models need to be jailbroken to use the Ultra 5.1 SIM interposer. There is no jailbreak for iOS 5.1.1 currently, but the GEVEY Ultra S does support iOS 4.1 and later (through 5.1). iPhone owners should not update to iOS 5.1.1 if they would like to keep their devices jailbroken.
If you're using the SAM package to unlock your iPhone, it's a good idea to backup your activation ticket to keep future unlocking options open. There are several ways you can back up the activation ticket, but thanks to a new Cydia package called Cookie the process is easier than ever.
1. Open Cydia and install Cookie. This can be found under Sections -> Utilities or by using the Search function.
2. Run Cookie and tap the Backup Activation button.
There's another unlocking option for GSM iPhone 4 owners looking to use their device on multiple carriers. The latest GEVEY Ultra 5.1 SIM interposer makes this possible without jailbreaking or violating your Apple warranty. Compatible with iOS 4.1 and later (through 5.1), the product supports modem firmware versions 1.59, 2.10, 3.10.1, 4.10.1, 4.11.08, and 4.12.01.
Of course, those with a jailbroken iPhone 4 can also use the GEVEY Ultra 5.1 to unlock their devices. More options are becoming available for unlocking including the SAM package method and even official unlocking of out-of-contract iPhones on the AT&T network.
Now jailbroken iPhones can be unlocked for use on other carriers using the SAM (Subscriber Artificial Module) package. The process works with the GSM iPhone 4 and 4S running iOS 5 and equipped with any baseband. This means that users looking to unlock their devices for use on a different carrier don't have to wait until they're out of contract.
The unlock comes thanks to Chinese iPhone developer Loktar_Sun. The SAM package can be installed by first adding the source repo.bingner.com to Cydia on a jailbroken iPhone. For instructions on how to add a repository to Cydia click here.