Consumer advocates have written a petition to the FCC in hopes of laying the groundwork to unlock all these phones.
WASHINGTON, February 7, 2024 – Consumer advocates are shutting down all mobile phones on the T-Mobile network, citing competitive concerns amid the carrier’s pending acquisitions of Mint Mobile and Ultra Mobile. Urges the Federal Communications Commission to support mandatory unlocking of phone devices.
Last March, T-Mobile announced that it had agreed to acquire Mint Mobile and Ultra Mobile for an estimated $1.35 billion.
The following month, the Justice Department announced an antitrust investigation into the deal, citing growing consolidation trends and concerns that the move would drive up wireless prices for consumers.
In a letter Monday after a meeting with FCC officials, the consumer advocacy groups Benton Institute, Public Knowledge, Open Technology Institute and Consumer Reports said Mint Mobile and Ultra Mobile are separate entities. He expressed concern that its disappearance would create “unnecessary obstacles” for consumers. A mobile he user who is trying to migrate to another service he provider if his cell phone is locked to her T-Mobile.
The signatories of the letter urge the FCC to force T-Mobile to unlock Mint and Ultra mobile devices in its network for now, pointing to the prior authority imposed on Verizon after acquiring Tracfone. He pointed out that he had requested a shortening of the unlock period. Tracfone devices are available from 12 months to 60 days.
T-Mobile argues that the FCC’s action is unnecessary because of its existing unlocking obligations based on the Department of Justice’s final determination. However, the letter argues that the guidelines in the final judgment are insufficient because they allow T-Mobile to be prohibited from unlocking prepaid and postpaid phones for one year each and for the remainder of the contract. ing.
The letter argues that locked devices create a difficult process for users looking to switch carriers and stifle competition. A lack of competition could spur price increases, harming low-income consumers who can’t afford new devices or new plans, the letter said. The large number of unlocked phones will also create a large market of second-hand devices that will be available to consumers at discounted prices, the letter adds.
The letter outlines a number of proposed obligations for T-Mobile that it says will increase competition.
The letter suggests that T-Mobile will do the following following the approved acquisition: Set a 30-day unlock period for all T-Mobile devices operating on your network after closure, and a 60-day period to automatically unlock all devices on your network. By doing so, we will provide users with a way to manually unlock devices that cannot be unlocked automatically and will allow all devices offered through T-Mobile to be unlocked automatically within two years. .
The letter comes amid increased scrutiny of T-Mobile’s acquisitions. In addition to Mint and Ultra Mobile, T-Mobile acquired Sprint in a merger worth $26 billion in 2020. The mobile wireless company subsequently faced antitrust lawsuits over the deal, alleging that it significantly reduced competition within the mobile phone industry.