Say you want to switch services from Verizon (NYSE:VZ) to AT&T (NYSE:T), or AT&T to Sprint (NYSE:S), or Sprint to T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS). Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what switch or how many you’re interested in — they’re all illegal, and switching services — or cellular unlocking — can land you in jail or left with a lawsuit, according to the Washington Post.
While Washington may be split over healthcare and budgets, Hillary Clinton and food stamps — pretty much everyone agrees that this is stupid. David Edelman, the senior advisor to the White House for Internet, Innovation, & Privacy wrote an official White House response to the legalization of cell phone unlocking, saying that the White House is in agreement with petitioners who seek to legalize switching to another network.
“It’s common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers’ needs,” said Edelman. “The Obama Administration would support a range of approaches to addressing this issue, including narrow legislative fixes in the telecommunications space,” read the White House’s response.
It’s important for the cellular market, and for business competition between big companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, that used devices be allowed to move about and continue use. When it comes to sustainability and resale value, the legal status of cellular companies’ phones is highly limiting, according to the Washington Post, and as consumers find themselves unable to retain any monetary value on used devices.
At present there are a number of ways to go about unlocking cell phones, and a number of third party companies that will do so for customers. These businesses may suffer if legislation isn’t pushed far enough. “It’s now time for the industry to act voluntarily or for the FCC to regulate,” said Tom Wheeler, Federal Communications Commission Chair. So why is it coming down to regulation as opposed to actions from Verizon and companies like it? It’s not exactly an appealing business tactic — to be forced to notify all customers that they are legally free to leave for any competing carrier.