US mobile users can now unlock phones

The US Library of Congress made an amendment to the country’s copyright law on Wednesday, allowing mobile phone users to use their handsets with a different service provider.

As of Monday, US mobile subscribers will be legally able to use various software and services to remove the network lock on their handsets. This means a device supplied by Cingular Wireless could be unlocked for use on T-Mobile’s network for example.

The practice of unlocking has been commonplace elsewhere in the world for some time now, but US operators, which often subsidise handsets, have lobbied to prevent it becoming legal.

Mobile number portability has been available nationwide in the US since the summer of 2004, but to date, consumers have been forced to purchase new handsets when switching provider.

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