(Dayton Daily News (OH) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 04--A new law has made it easier for consumers to switch their mobile phone to a new wireless provider. The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act which was signed by President Barack Obama on Friday, allows people to switch their carrier when the service contract expires.
"Everybody is after cheaper, monthly, unlimited service with no contract. For someone who loves their phone and they don't want to get rid of it, they can now shop for a different carrier with a cheaper monthly plan," said Zain Hamdin, owner of Quick Link Wireless on Linden Avenue in Dayton.
Hamdin was one of many cell phone store owners who signed a petition to get the law passed. Over 114,000 people signed an online petition to make unlocking cell phones legal.
The law overturns a Library of Congress decision which made it illegal for consumers to unlock their phones without the service provider's permission. This allowed carriers to keep a phone locked. If the phone was unlocked, carriers were able to charge fees to switch providers.
The new law was something that consumer advocates had pushed for and something that makes shoppers, including Danielle Mackey of Dayton happy.
"Now I can keep my phone and not have to pay another $500 for a phone just to switch to a different carrier," Mackey said.
The phone must have a SIM card, and the service contract must expire to avoid early terminations fees which vary by carrier, according to Hamdin.
Cincinnati Bell now offers no early termination fees because its customers will need to switch providers due to its recent acquisition by Verizon, according to Jane Weiler, director of marketing and communication with Cincinnati Bell.
Verizon did not respond to a request to comment, but according to the company's website the early termination fees are $175 or $350 for an advanced device.
The Library of Congress will still have the power to determine whether consumer choice in cell phone unlocking is legal next year, at which point the Copyright Office could restore the ban.
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