AT&T reaffirmed on Friday that it will unlock up to five of each of its customers’ mobile devices so long as they meet certain conditions.
AT&T’s Vice President of Federal Regulatory, John Marsh, outlined the company’s unlocking policy in a blog post that comes during a time of heated debate over the legality of unlocking.
“As we make clear on our website, if we have the unlock code or can reasonably get it from the manufacturer, AT&T currently 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 her service agreement commitment,” Marsh writes. “If the conditions are met we will unlock up to five devices per account per year. We will not unlock devices that have been reported lost or stolen.”
Marsh said that the company will “be happy to” give SIM cards to customers with unlocked and AT&T-compatible devices to get them connected to the network. He introduced a new webpage where iPhone users can submit unlock requests online. Customers can also call AT&T or visit a store for these requests.
Unlocking a device allows it to be used on a wireless carrier other than the one it was intended for. In January, it became illegal to do so without carrier permission under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) when the Librarian of Congress chose not to include it as an exemption to that law.
Technology activists began rallying against the decision immediately, and the fruits of their labors are just beginning to appear. The White House and FCC Chariman said Monday that they are pro-unlocking provided the user’s contract has expired or they have paid an early termination fee, and several bills have been introduced in Congress to re-legalize the practice.