Unlocking a cell phone is important for consumers who travel abroad and for those who want to take their devices to other carriers. HOW-TO GEEK BOOKSRead our first book, the HTG Guide to Windows 8, or check our upcoming books.
Enter your email below to get exclusive access to our best articles and tips before everybody else. You can buy a laptop or Wi-Fi tablet and use it on Wi-Fi anywhere in the world, so why are cell phones and devices with mobile data not portable between different cellular networks in the same country?
Unlike with Wi-Fi, there are many different competing cellular network standards — both around the world and within countries. Cellular carriers will generally unlock your phone for you as long as you’re no longer in a contract with them. Some cellular networks use the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) standard, while some use CDMA (Code-division multiple access). RELATED ARTICLEBill Shock: How to Avoid $22,000 or More in International Roaming FeesRoaming data can cost as much as 300 times the price of domestic data, leading to bill shock. Different cellular networks throughout the USA and the rest of the world use different frequencies. Be aware that it’s very possible to damage your SIM card and make it not work properly by cutting it to the wrong dimensions.
Be sure to check what types of networks, frequencies, and LTE bands your phone supports before trying to move it between networks. Also, unlike GSM providers, Verizon will only provision phones they sell, partly because the phones require proprietary Verizon firmware to talk to the radio network. Just because LTE wouldn't work doesn't mean the phone couldn't be on the network but that doesn't matter to my point.
My brother was screwed by Sprint when he received a new phone under warranty, and they tried to collect an ETF when he left a month later.
I was less than happy with T-Mobile when they collected an ETF, despite the fact that I could not receive cellular service at my new house. I was less than happy with Sprint when they changed the terns of service on my tablet and refused to let me out of my contract.
In fact, Verizon has consistently given me the best customer service for my personal and business mobile phones. I used to hate all carriers but T-Mobile has flipped the industry and has even forced AT&T and Verizon to stop being the dbags that they have been. And from what I can find on the web (one example), Verizon has been scoring in the 70's for years.
In fact, even the worst carriers (AT&T and Sprint have switched places since 2011) score around 60%.
Lol ok so you never back up anything you say and when I call you a hypocrite for you know being a hypocrite you suddenly start trying to find links to contradict that. They also asked people mostly in areas that have good Verizon service and crap Sprint coverage. So, even though you can't back up what you say (and still haven't, instead you stand there and continue to insult me), you are now moving the goal post. Why did you care enough to "correct" me when I said something you disagreed with on another thread?
Your personal experience is not the sole arbiter of what's good and bad, just like mine isn't. DID YOU KNOW?Gold, a highly ductile element, can easily be stretched into a long and thin wire.
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Most American carriers offer free email to SMS gateways which you can use from the convenience of your Outlook or other email software to send emails to cell phones.  All you need to know is the cell phone number and the carrier for your friend. Bob Bentz is an experienced entrepreneur with expertise in mobile marketing, seo, internet marketing, IVR, online dating, and fantasy baseball.
Once unlocked, wireless subscribers can then take those phones to a different wireless operator.This bill, along with a bill passed by the House of Representatives in February, would repeal a 2012 decision by the Library of Congress that made cell phone unlocking a violation of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The reason why is that most devices sold in the US through wireless operators have a software lock on them which prohibits them from being used on another operator's network. Cellular carriers also like locking you to their specific network and making it difficult to move. All CDMA phones ship locked to a specific network and you’d have to get both your old carrier and your new carrier to cooperate to switch phones between them.
The only difference between them is the size of the plastic card surrounding the SIM’s chip.
Your cellular carrier will often be able to cut your SIM card for you or give you a new one if you want to use an old SIM card in a new phone.
The radio frequencies a device can use is determined not just by software, but by the design of the radio transceivers, the amplifiers, and the size of the antenna. Even if Google built the phone to physically support Verizon's network, Verizon itself would still have to write a radio ROM for the phone.
The fact that they have a 4G hotspot in their retail stores, and the service is virtually useless "in the wild" borders on fraud, but I wasn't going to take them to court for $200.
When I had a problem with my 3G modem a couple years ago, a tech actually drove out to my location to analyze the signal.
When my contract with Verizon ends next year, I'll probably switch to AT&T so I can use the unlocked Nexus phones going forward.
However, T-Mobile replaced their CEO and the new guy has completely restructured the company. Ting is also good but they are a recent company and weren't included in the US Carriers because they aren't a Carrier, they are an MVNO. How many of those 70% have any idea what they are talking about and don't get tricked by the b.s. I'm not going to bother with fighting you on this because I couldn't care less so wasting my time trying to fight you would be pointless.
It seems you are the one who cares enough to carry on an argument and attempt to get the last word, even though you no longer have any facts to stand on.
Like I said, I've been very happy with 3 of those "garbage" carriers, and even if I had bad luck with the fourth, I think it's unfair to malign them when other people are very happy with them.
Get a thousand people together and ask about their collective experience, and you may have something that resembles an authoritative answer. Affectionately coined MMi, we're a community over 900,000 strong who love modifying our iPhones. The DMCA, which prohibits Americans from "circumventing" technologies that protect copyrighted works, gives the Library of Congress the authority to grant exemptions.
The ban on unlocking put a roadblock in the way for consumers who wanted to use their devices on other networks.That said, wireless operators have always unlocked devices upon request, although in recent years they have gotten more stringent regarding their requirements. This allows the manufacturer to produce a phone that will support all GSM networks in the world and allows their customers to travel with those phones. Different models of phones are often created to work on different LTE networks around the world.
But they are all trying to get and keep our business, and they have all been improving over time - both in the quality of their telephone service and the quality of their customer service. Again, not "garbage." Obama was elected with 52% of the vote - does that make our President "garbage", too?

Last year, the Library of Congress opted not to renew the DMCA exemption for cell phone unlocking, which it had granted in 2006 and 2010. Now most wireless operators require customers to own their devices outright before they are able to request an unlock code. However, phones are generally supporting more and more LTE networks and becoming more and more interoperable over time.
This means you can take an old SIM card and cut the plastic off until it becomes a smaller-size SIM card that fits in a modern phone.
The change caused a stir in the wireless community, and an online petition garnered some 114,322 signatures and won approval of President Obama."With today's strong bipartisan vote in the Judiciary Committee, I hope the full Senate can soon take up this important legislation that supports consumer rights," Sen.
Or, you can take a smaller-size SIM card and insert it into a tray so that it becomes a larger-size SIM card that fits in an older phone. In other words, if you are still under contract with your carrier and you bought a device at a subsidized price, your wireless operator doesn't have to unlock your phone. And in many instances, the carrier won't.The Senate bill that has moved out of committee is similar to the House bill that passed earlier in the year.
This is important because there are many companies that resell cell phones or unlock devices for consumers that would be protected under the Senate version of the bill.Consumer activists said they are pleased that Congress is responding to the public outcry regarding this issue.
And they are happy that the Senate bill offers more flexibility in unlocking, so that consumers can get help from third-party "unlocking" sites."This is critical for those who need technical assistance to unlock their device," Laura Moy, staff attorney for Public Knowledge, said in a statement. And in December, the Federal Communications Commission reached an agreement with the top five wireless operators in the US regarding unlocking. Even though operators have agreed to unlock devices and Congress is working to ensure that right becomes law, other technical roadblocks will keep most consumers from truly being able to take their devices with them when they switch carriers. The reason why is that not all US wireless operators use the same network technologies or the same radio frequencies to offer their service. Phones designed for these networks are the most flexible, because GSM is the same technology that is used throughout the world.
And wireless users can switch carriers on unlocked GSM devices simply by swapping out a SIM card. It's not as simple for wireless customers on Verizon or Sprint, which use a technology called CDMA for their basic voice service.
This technology does not use a SIM card, so even if the device is unlocked, a Verizon customer can't slip in a Sprint SIM card and get voice service on Sprint. In a few years, the landscape will hopefully change as more operators move to the next generation of network technology: 4G LTE. But even then, the transition may not be completely seamless and devices made for different carriers may not be interchangeable.
First, even though all four major US wireless operators are deploying 4G LTE, the technology is mostly used for data services. And second, even though these carriers are all deploying the same 4G LTE network technology, they're using different radio frequencies to deploy the service. Until the carriers overlap more in terms of the spectrum they are using to build the service, we are still likely to have incompatible devices among carriers. Wireless operators are beginning to deploy voice over LTE services, and some are deploying LTE on the same spectrum bands, which means the future looks bright for true device interoperability. And someday if companies don't put any software locks on devices, then we'll truly be able to take any mobile device to any wireless carrier.

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