The Librarian of Congress banned the practice of buying a cell phone and unlocking it last October. Tech News Daily pointed out that the librarian provided a 90-day buffer in which wireless customers could purchase and unlock their phones. That period ends on Saturday.
Basically, when one unlocks a phone, it will free the handset from restrictions which ensure the device will work only on a particular network, meaning any other network that runs on a similar wireless standard will be able to play nice with said handset. Those who travel overseas often would find that unlocked phones are the most ideal route to take, while others prefer to have the freedom to switch carriers anytime they like.
But not everyone will have to make do with locked phones. As Mashable notes, "Verizon's iPhone 5 comes out of the box already unlocked, and AT&T will unlock a phone once it is out of contract." What's more, you can pay full-price for a phone, as opposed to the discounted price that comes with a multi-year contract, to receive it "unlocked from the get-go."
A petition that seeks to make the administration to review the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and legalize cellphone unlocking has breached the target number of signatures of 100,000 on February 21, 2013. It can be recalled that a consumer from San Francisco started disseminating the petition online on January 24th to seek the help of the White House in reversing the decision to limit the use of a locked device to a particular carrier.
The petitioner argues that the changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act decrease the value of the devices when resold, as well as the choices for consumers to select their desired devices and networks. Since the petition has earned its 100,000th signature, the WH will not be compelled to review it, explain the reason for it and make possible recommendations, if only necessary. It may or may not result to legalization of unlocking or total scrapping of the petition.
More info: WhiteHouse.gov