FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Pushes CTIA and Carriers To Unlock Cell Phones

When new FCC chairman Tom Wheeler stepped into his new job, he had some big shoes to fill after predecessor Julius Genachowski left an impressive track record behind, but Mr. Wheeler seems to be hitting the ground running. This week, he wrote a letter to the CTIA urging the group to amend its Consumer Code to change consumers’ right to unlock their mobile devices.

Wheeler noted, in a not-so-subtle way, that the FCC prefers when industries promote competition voluntarily, and he said that after eight months of work between the FCC and CTIA enough is enough. “Let’s set a goal of including the full unlocking rights policy in the CTIA Consumer Code before the December holiday season.”

Moto G unlocked
Unlocked, like this Moto G

This push also comes from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which in September petitioned the FCC to make the above changes. It would seem that Wheeler’s letter is a sort of last-ditch effort to convince the CTIA to voluntarily make the change so that the FCC doesn’t have to make a regulation.

That a bureaucrat would rather let an industry agency change its own policy as opposed to spitting out a new government regulation is surprising, though certainly a breath of fresh air.

(Also, here’s a fun fact: Wheeler’s letter is addressed to that Steve Largent.)