It's About Time: Obama Signs Bill Legalizing Cellphone Unlocking

Score one for the customer. President Barack Obama signed the “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act,” which Congress recently passed with unusual ease. The bill makes it legal for mobile phone service customers to unlock their phones and move from one service to another. Carriers typically lock phones to their service with software, and (until now), customers generally had to ditch phones when switching to a new service.

The "Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act" makes cell phone unlocking legal.
A bill signed into law today makes it legal to unlock your phone and take it to another carrier.

The bill is good news if you’ve been wanting to switch, but don’t expect to jump ship if you’re in the middle of a contract.  The law only allows customers to unlock their phones when the contract (the agreement you signed to get that phone at a subsidized, low price) expires. Also, the law only applies to cell phones (including smartphones) at this time, though tablets are being considered for similar rules.