Unlocking smartphones without permission illegal in US after 01/25/13


Last Updated: 2013-05-11 19:02:22
  1. Rxpert83

    Rxpert83 Dr. Feelgood Moderator

    If you pay the etf that's the end of the contract and you should be able to unlock it then.

    There's no reason to unlock the phone while under contract.

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  2. adamhos1234

    adamhos1234 Well-Known Member

    Doesn't tmob have a $30 plan? 200 mins or something, unlimited text n data

    Anyways VM is OK ( gotta be cheapest for a smartphone, at least initial cost).

    Service really is lacking but it works( and that's what wifi is for lol)

    $35 for 300 min, unlimited data and texts? How can you really beat that?
  3. ramjet73

    ramjet73 Well-Known Member

    Well, if the 4G coverage isn't available or doesn't work well then I guess WiFi is an alternative, but it's a PITA having to move from hotspot to hotspot when using mobile data. That's what WiMax/4G was supposed to address but now that Sprint's phasing that out and going with LTE that I won't be able to use, the T-Mobile $30 plan with 5GB at HSPA+ speeds looks pretty good to me, as long as they allow VoIP.

    I checked the VM website and if I understand correctly, the 4G limit for VM is 2.5GB/month unless you have the $15 hotspot option and then you get 3.5GB. Although it only includes 100 minutes, that makes the $30 T-Mobile plan look pretty good if I can use those minutes for incoming calls and use a VoIP app like GrooveIP for outgoing.

    Just thinking out loud here, and I appreciate your input. BTW, I'm looking at the new T-Mobile pre-paid plans and I think they are different than the ones requiring a contract.

    ramjet73
  4. mikedt

    mikedt 你好 Guide

    I think getting a free or heavily subsidised phone on a mandatory two year contract is very similar buying a car on a hire purchase or instalment plan. You get the phone or car, but it's not actually yours until the payments are completed. Either you complete the loan payments or you complete the contract.

    If you default on a car loan, they repossess the car. And if you default on a two year carrier contract, they can blacklist the ESN or IMEI, rendering it useless. That's why you sometimes get blacklisted ESN and IMEI phones on Ebay, that do have outstanding finance issues, like there's monies owed to a carrier.

    If you pay the ETF, that's it the phone is yours, there's no more contract and payment obligations to the carrier, surely you can then legally unlock it?
    Rxpert83 likes this.
  5. miked6875

    miked6875 Well-Known Member

    A friend has been using Vonage for out going for 3or4 months on the $30 plan, Tmob hasn't said a word YET.:D
    ramjet73 likes this.
  6. Rxpert83

    Rxpert83 Dr. Feelgood Moderator

    Exactly.

    But the problem is, people can currently just get the subsidized phone, and not pay the bills. The carrier will blacklist it, but that doesn't matter because the person unlocks it and takes it to another carrier (who doesn't care you owe the first carrier money).

    This law makes people be accountable, and I support that. You signed the contract, fulfill it.

    If you pay the etf, you should be good to unlock
  7. SuperAfnan

    SuperAfnan Well-Known Member Contributor

    Neither is wimax... :rolleyes:
    That's supposed to be decent 3g speed.
  8. jhawkkw

    jhawkkw Chinchillin' Moderator

    I agree with this 100%, but my concern is what if the carriers refuse to unlock it if you do buy full retail or fulfill your contract? Since it's illegal to do it yourself, by refusing to unlock it, they force you to stay with them or buy a new device.
    Rxpert83 likes this.
  9. Rxpert83

    Rxpert83 Dr. Feelgood Moderator

    How did we go from unlocking phones to which carrier is the best :confused:

    ;)

    BTW, for those interested there's an ongoing thread with this is the android lounge
  10. Rxpert83

    Rxpert83 Dr. Feelgood Moderator

    That's the only thing I could see anyone being possibly upset over.

    I imagine if a carrier did it the BBB/FCC and just about any other acronym you could think of would be all over it. Itd be a PR nightmare.
  11. jhawkkw

    jhawkkw Chinchillin' Moderator

    Yeah, I hope it won't come to that though.
  12. Rxpert83

    Rxpert83 Dr. Feelgood Moderator

    Agreed
  13. mikedt

    mikedt 你好 Guide

    Isn't carrier IMEI and ESN blacklisting across all carriers, there's like a central registry or database of blacklisted numbers? So if a phone is blacklisted on say Verizon Wireless, it's also blacklisted for Sprint etc.

    I know it's like that in the EU. I'm sure the original intention was to render stolen and missing phones bricked and useless on all carriers.

    Years ago in the days of analogue ETACS phones in the UK. It was quite common to change a phone's ESN. A phone's ESN was blacklisted for all carriers in the UK, because of outstanding monies owed and defaulted bill payments. Changing a phone's ESN in those days was quite easy to do, and wasn't illegal either.

    Yup.
  14. ramjet73

    ramjet73 Well-Known Member

    We agreed when this thread was still in the Evo V 4G forum that the Library of Congress decision was of little consequence to most users so we started to discuss why one would want to unlock a phone and that led to the carrier discussion.

    I didn't realize that this type of discussion always had to be conducted in the lounge. :confused:

    This thread has so many pieces merged together that it's become almost impossible to follow. :(

    ramjet73
  15. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues - Crazy peacock person - Guide

    I hope no one faints, but I'm going to disagree with mikedt! :eek: I just don't see how a phone I pay for can belong to anyone but me, regardless of its heavily discounted price. The heavily discounted price is an enticement from the carrier to get me to extend [or, for a new customer, initiate] a contract for service from them, not for the phone, per se.

    I've never leased a vehicle [I BUY them--I like knowing they're mine!], but I see no analogy here at all. Again, with phones it's the service contract the company is really selling the customer, not the phone. With a car loan or lease, it's the car itself that's being sold to the customer, not a service.

    I know from experience that upgrading a phone via my carrier yields me a new phone, which is mine outright, plus a contract I agree to for phone service. I've never broken said contract*, but even if I did the phone would still be mine because that was our agreement; I would, however, still be responsible for paying for the service contract, whether I'm using said service or not.

    * I've been with AT&T so long that I've watched it go from AT&T to Cingular and back to AT&T! I don't break contracts. :D
  16. Rxpert83

    Rxpert83 Dr. Feelgood Moderator

    Generally, if it's not specific to that device it shouldn't be in a device specific forum.

    It's best to address all of these concerns in one centralized place where everyone can be heard rather than have 10 separate threads with the same thing being said.

    No, a black listed phone on 1 carrier is good to go on another compatible carrier here in the us.

    The way the eu does it would make a whole lot more sense and prevent the need for this law in the first place

    It really doesnt matter whether the phone is truely yours or not though. By taking the $400 discount a person takes on a debt (2 years with a company) that they must repay.

    Sure, if you break the phone you have to pay to repair it. You can sell the phone and use another, ect

    Bottom line is, you are either with that company for 2 years or you pay the ETF. Either one will repay the debt and then you can go onto a different carrier.

    My point to every post in this thread has been there is no good reason to unlock a phone while under contract unless you plan on ditching that service and not paying your debt to them.
  17. difinka2

    difinka2 Active Member Contributor

    Purchased a refurb incred on ebay when i broke the original! Soon-to-be ex. holds Verizon account hostage. We have had three phones on the V network for a long time and no issues until stb ex ran off with girlfriend and left son and I to pick up pieces. He took ownership of the account so we can't even check to see if he is paying the bill. I better stop with the stb ex while i still have some dignity. Anyhow, I don't want to register new incred until I can afford to open my own account on V network and it is a V network phone. Do I have any options and should I just register phone under old account, unlock it and throw it away when I do get my own account since I did only pay $50.00?:confused: V told me he will own phone, phone number and everything else associated with the phone on the original account. I thought I was going to unlock the new incred once I opened my own account!
    Torn Between Two Incredibles
  18. difinka2

    difinka2 Active Member Contributor

    Oh yes, I am confused! I have placed several posts and my stats never change. What am I doing wrong?
  19. EarlyMon

    EarlyMon The PearlyMon Moderator

    Nothing.

    You're posting in forum games. Those don't count. :
  20. ramjet73

    ramjet73 Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I'm trying to catch up and piece together the threads that have been mashed together so I hope this hasn't already been covered.

    If I buy a phone outright, whether it is from the carrier or another source, and activate on a line I have under contract, I would like to be able to pass the phone it is replacing on to someone else for use on any compatible network.

    I'm still fulfilling my contract for the service and I haven't seen anything that says a subsidized phone is the property of the carrier. As has already been stated the subsidy is compensation for committing to the contract for the service, and as long as that contract is fulfilled I should be able to have the carrier unlock that phone or be allowed to do it myself if they can't/won't.

    I've never heard of a carrier requiring a phone to be returned to them if your account gets closed for excessive roaming or data usage, have you?

    ramjet73
  21. EarlyMon

    EarlyMon The PearlyMon Moderator

    Sorry about that, but device forums are for devices. We have carrier and manufacturer forums and for broadest issues, the general discussion forums.
  22. Rxpert83

    Rxpert83 Dr. Feelgood Moderator

    No, the phone just gets blacklisted until the money owed is paid. This law prevents that person from hopping to another carrier and avoiding paying the bill

    If a carrier ends the contract, that's usually the end of it right there.
  23. EarlyMon

    EarlyMon The PearlyMon Moderator

    Certainly, buy an unlocked phone.

    Something that you can't do with a Sprint phone, btw.

    If you fail to fulfill a contract for a subsidized phone, you won't need to return it, they'll blacklist it so it can't be used again.


    The law here is concerned with GSM phones, not CDMA, fwiw, as far as I can tell.
  24. mikedt

    mikedt 你好 Guide

    No problem Moody. I'm sure there's plenty of things that we do agree on... :D

    You've always paid cash for your cars, and never borrowed the money for them with a secured loan or finance plan?

    I'm thinking the same way. The carrier is effectively lending you the money to pay for that free or heavily subsidised phone, and the payments for it are included in the two year carrier contract that you sign and commit to paying.

    IANAL but when you buy a car on finance or a payment plan, you're not actually leasing it. The car is yours once you've fulfilled the required payments. And if you do default, they can repossess it. You can go ahead and destroy the car if you want while there's still outstanding finance on it, but then you'll become personally liable in the event of default.


    I think the intention of locking, that's their leverage and security. Like with the threat of repossessing your car. That's why I made the comparison. :) So that if you don't fulfil the two year term, or pay the ETF if you want to get out of it. The phone is blacklisted. The phone is still yours, for what use it might be.

    Think this is nothing new. Mentioned previously they used to do it in the UK for the old ETACs phones, where people had defaulted on their contracts with monies owing.

    I doesn't work like that here in China. Phones are always full price, unlocked, and you pay up-front for them. The exception is Hong Kong. Phones there are often locked and heavily subsidised. That's why I became interested in this subject. :)
    Rxpert83 likes this.
  25. ramjet73

    ramjet73 Well-Known Member

    So you are saying that even if I were to pay full price for an upgrade phone from the carrier I would not have the right to unlock the phone being replaced and use it on another carrier until the contract ends? That doesn't sound right to me since that phone would no longer be used to access the service under contract. The carrier can (and probably would) blacklist the upgrade phone if the contract wasn't fulfilled.

    Edit: And if I did an upgrade to a new subsidized phone while still under contract and have to sign a new contract to get it, which phone is being subsidized at that point? In that situation I would certainly expect to be able to legally unlock the phone that was upgraded.

    ramjet73

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