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US regional iPhone carriers band together to ease unlocking rules

Smaller wireless carriers in several US regional and rural areas are backing bills in Congress that would allow consumers to unlock mobile phones and tablets without a carriers' permission, according to Bloomberg. The support is in response to a January 26 law that made it illegal to unlock phones in the United States. That law was supported by Verizon Wireless and AT&T, the country's two largest phone providers.

A new effort to reverse the January 26 decision is underway and it has bipartisan support. In addition to the Competitive Carriers Association, which represents smaller wireless carriers like US Cellular and Bluegrass Cellular, other supporters of overturning the law include President Barack Obama's White House, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VA) and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA).

The Competitive Carriers Association says that a consumer's ability to unlock their phone would mean greater choice and better coverage for those in specific areas of the country. However, the CTIA (the association that represents the four largest wireless carriers in the United States, including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint) says that "locking cell phones is an essential part of the wireless industry's dominant business model."

Readers who want to help the Competitive Carriers Association overturn current laws making unlocking phones illegal can check out their call to action page here.