It’s now illegal to unlock your cell phone

This country really is owned by the corporations. It’s sad, but this is a perfect example.  American cell phone companies already charge us an obscene amount for often spotty service (I wrote a while back about my French cell phone plan that costs $25 a month and has unlimited calls and text, including free calls to the US from France).  My iPhone plan here in the states – the “cheap” plan – costs me $93 a month.

No, but that wasn’t enough for the greedy cell phone companies.

Not only will they not unlock your phone (except under some circumstances, differs by carrier), but now it’s “illegal” for you to get it unlocked yourself.

An unlocked phone is one that can work with any cell phone service (even that’s a bit more complicated, but that’s the essence of it).  Currently, when you buy a phone, it’s usually locked to the carrier you’re using, and you can’t just switch to another carrier and use the same phone.  Unless of course you want to pay a ridiculous surcharge for the phone in the first place (like paying $650 instead of $200 for the phone).

The carriers argue that they can keep the phones locked because they’ve subsidized the “cheap” price of $200 to $300 for iphones.  Puhleez.  I refuse to believe a cell phone costs nearly $700, but the phone company is being “nice” selling it to us for only $200 to $300.  I just do not believe it.  And Apple is to blame as well – since they’re the ones who set the prices for the iPhones in the first place.  I love Apple, have a lot of Apple products, but I refuse to believe the iPhone costs them $700.

The Atlantic has more on this, but the implications are important.  AT&T will unlock your phone after you’ve had it for two years.  And while Verizon was willing to unlock my phone now, that was only for international cell phone providers – it’s not unlocked I switch to another American cell phone provider.  So if I leave Verizon, my iPhone is worthless as a phone.

Again, these companies are already charging us obscene rates compared to what people pay in Europe for better plans, and they’re charging twice as much as a better plan at Walmart (I know, we hate them, but the fact remains that they charge $50 for a plan that costs you $90 with Verizon or AT&T).  I’m sorry, but that’s just obscene.

PS Cable TV in America is ripping off you too.  You can get it for $35 a month in Europe, and that includes a home phone with unlimited calls, and cable TV.  But we’re #1.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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