Related topics

New FCC supremo: Sort out your cell unlocking, mobe giants - OR ELSE

'Enough time has passed, and it is now time for the industry to act' thunders new chairman

Angry woman on mobile

The US telco regulator has told mobile firms to come up with a plan allowing customers to receive unlock codes for their phones when their contracts are up – or it will force them to comply.

The Federal Communications Commission said in a letter to the wireless trade group CTIA that the industry needed to adopt a voluntary unlocking policy before the holiday shopping season.

"Enough time has passed, and it is now time for the industry to act voluntarily or for the FCC to regulate," chairman Tom Wheeler wrote.

The FCC and CTIA have been working for eight months on a plan to let phone owners unlock their phones from their current provider once their contracts are up. Wheeler said that although the carriers had agreed to terms like allowing their users to take their phones with them if they decide to leave, and agreeing to process requests within two business days, they were still holding out on some issues.

According to the letter, the service providers had yet to come up with guidelines on letting users know when their mobes are eligible for unlocking, or even automatic unlocking, when the time comes – without charging an additional fee.

"Absent the consumer's right to be informed about unlocking eligibility, any voluntary program would be a hollow shell," he thundered.

Meanwhile, the regulator has released a mobile broadband speed test app for Android phones to help it gather information on consumer internet performance in America.

The FCC Speed Test app is available on Google Play now and an iPhone app will be on the App Store soon, the commission said.

The app is designed to test users' mobile broadband, measuring upload and download speed, latency and packet loss along with signal strength and the device's make and model. The commission has assured folks that it has "taken significant measures" to ensure that volunteers who help it collect the data will hang on to their privacy and confidentiality, promising not to slurp any personally identifiable data. ®

Sponsored: 5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup