Sprint Nextel to Unlock Phone Software

In an age of frivolous lawsuits, wireless subscribers of Sprint Nextel may actually be happy to hear that, as part of a proposed class-action settlement, the cellular provider has agreed to provide departing Sprint PCS customers with the code necessary to unlock their phones' software. The move would allow the phones to operate on any network using code division multiple access technology, or CDMA; competitors using that technology include Verizon Wireless and Alltel, although the Sprint handset would still have to meet those networks' technical standards to work. Additionally, the codes won't work for Sprint's Nextel-branded phones, which use iDEN technology, and don't allow switching to AT&T or T-Mobile, which use global system for mobile communication, or GSM, technology.

Sprint made the offer as part of the proposed settlement of a California class-action lawsuit, filed last year, accusing the company of anti-competitive practices. The plaintiffs claimed the software "lock" forced customers wanting to switch carriers to have to buy a new phone, throwing up a barrier to competition. A similar lawsuit was filed in Palm Beach County, Fla., and is covered by the proposed settlement. Though an Alameda County Superior Court judge gave the settlement his preliminary approval on Oct. 2, a final approval hearing hasn't yet been scheduled, said Sprint Nextel spokesman Matt Sullivan. "We believe this settlement is fair and reasonable," he stated, adding that the company denies wrongdoing and settled the suit "so we can continue to focus on our business."

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The same action can be pushed onto any mobile carrier, and IMHO should be. I think that you should be able to take your phone with you when you switch carriers, the point of the ETF is basically to cover the discounted price of the phone and lost revenue from ending your contract early. So by paying the ETF you have basically finished buying the phone you got at a discount to begin with. Besides, whjen you upgrade your phone you get to keep it anyways, just because you switch carriers it doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to use that phone again. Especially if the other carrier supports the same phone, but in their own braded version, that is identical.

Exactly. They need to do it like how it is in the EU. You can get your phone and use it with anyone. And at the most you're only stuck with a 1yr deal, after that you can change your service, or go to another carrier etc.

More choice and more freedom in the EU when it comes to this. I've got older cellphones that I don't use anymore that can still work, but I can also just turn around and give them to friends or sell them for some extra money on the side.