Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New U.S. Bill May Force Apple, AT&T To Unlock iPhone

A new draft bill in the U.S. would, among other things, "[...] offer to consumers the opportunity to purchase subsidy-free wireless customer equipment." This means that AT&T would have to offer an unlocked iPhone to customers in the U.S.

Sponsored by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a congressman who serves as chairman of a House telecommunications and Internet panel, the bill (PDF) would direct the FCC to make some new rules for wireless carriers, including making carriers explain rate plans to customers in full detail and in a "clear, plain, and conspicuous manner," explaining everything from early termination fees to state and local taxes to the customer.

Carriers would also be forced to make more detailed and accurate maps depicting their network coverage areas, and allow customers to cancel contracts for any reason without penalties for the first 30 days.

If the bill passes, it could mean good news for those who want an unlocked iPhone in the U.S. However, it could mean bad news for Apple, being that many of the features, as well as cuts from monthly contract fees, rely on the iPhone being locked to AT&T.

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