The battle for unlocked mobile devices may be reaching its end. An official decision regarding the wireless device locking exemptions was formally announced by Congress this week.
In the past, a locked device had no resale value beyond a paperweight. With the new rulings, electronics refurbishers are able to restore these devices to their best ability and resell them with confidence of their capabilities.
The new developments since the original 2012 unlocking ban have extended to cover other mobile devices aside from cellphones. This area of the new ruling is broken down into different classes for the different types of devices.
Class 11 devices are any type of “wireless telephone handsets,” including feature phones, smartphones and phablets. Class 12 allows the unlocking of tablet devices, including the iPad, Microsoft Surface, Amazon Kindle Fire and Samsung Galaxy Tab, but excludes e-readers such as the Nook. Class 13 unlocks any mobile wireless devices, such as hotspots. Class 14 includes any wearable wireless technology, such as smartwatches, fitness bands and other health monitoring equipment that functions on a wireless connection. And lastly, class 15 covers wireless consumer machines such as smart meters, appliances and precision-guided work equipment.
Aside from the classes of technology that have been confirmed for unlocking, there are multiple new classes that are proposed for further developments in the unlocking rulings. Proposed devices include some smart TVs, vehicle software and medical equipment.
Ruling in favor of more unlocked devices means flexibility for both regular customers and device refurbishers nationally. Now, consumers have the freedom to use their devices on whichever network they choose and device recyclers are able to repurpose devices to their best ability. With device unlocking growing at a rapid rate, it will be interesting to see what other technology has network freedom in the years to come.