AT&T will unlock any of its customers’ devices if their account and device meet several conditions, which are detailed in full in an AT&T company blog post headed “Bottom line: We Unlock Our Customers’ Devices”. This comes as a response to a controversial U.S. law that prohibits cell phone users from unlocking their phone so they can be used with another carrier.
According to the announcement, AT&T “will unlock a device for any customer whose account has been active for at least sixty days; whose account is in good standing and has no unpaid balance; and who has fulfilled his or service agreement commitment.” If these qualifying conditions are met, AT&T will unlock up to 5 devices per account per year, as long as those devices have not been reported lost or stolen. AT&T has also posted a set of instructions and eligibility requirements for unlocking your iPhone.
Before the regulatory law, titled Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), went in effect on January 26, cell phone users could legally use software and special tools to unlock their cell phone on their own with permission from the carrier they purchased the device from. Not being able to unlock your phone (which is not the same as jailbreaking it) could mean, among other challenges, that customers must pay high roaming fees to make a call while traveling abroad, as they are unable to switch to another carrier.
Two days before the law went into effect, an online petition that called for making unlocking cell phones legal went live. As of this writing, the petition has received over a 100,000 signatures, and the White House has responded in support of the petition.
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