California Settlement Allows Sprint Customers to Use Their Phones on Other Networks

As part of a class action settlement, Sprint has said it will allow customers who are at the end of the contract to unlock the phones. The phone holders from August 18, 1999 to July 16, 2007 are eligible to receive the unlocking codes – no work as why these dates were chosen.

The thing to note however, is that this is, for now, a California only phenomenon, as this is where the lawsuit took place. Another thing of note is that most of the customers will have to move to another state to use their phone, as the only other CDMA carrier in California is Verizon, which doesn’t allow ‘foreign’ phones on their network. Actually, there are pockets of Alltel in Northern California, but the areas of service are extremely small.

Perhaps this will spark the owners of unlocked Sprint phones to start a class action against Verizon, so the Sprint phones can be used on the Verizon network.

If this starts a trend, perhaps we could see CDMA phones, the superior technology, with RIMs, the equivalent of the SIM card, which are found in the GSM phones, that have the superior convenience. It would be very nice to be able to carry a phone fitting the occasion, with just the change of a RIM card. (Use your Treo at work, where you need the extra features offered, and a Motorola V60 when not working, as all you need is phone capability.)

The question of phone locking to a particular carrier has been getting a much more discriminating look, as many iPhone users are wishing the phone was not tied to AT&T. Suits are pending against T-Mobile right now, which is very odd, because T-Mobile is probably the most user friendly customer service in existence. While working for T-Mobile, I saw many customers using phones purchased from other services, and also from overseas, being used without problems on the T-Mobile network. I suppose the customers might be railing against the policy of making the customer purchase a T-Mobile SIM for use on their network.

With the litigation taking place in every region of the country, it is only a matter of time before the phones are interchangeable between carriers of the same type service, but, the users will probably rail once again, when the phones are no longer financed by the carrier. For those unaware, the phone that the carrier ‘gives away free’ is part of the loyalty agreement you sign by agreeing to service for a prescribed period. Many times the ‘free’ phone, would otherwise cost up to $200. Trade-offs will be made, so thought before action might be in order.

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[tags] Sprint, locked phones, Verizon, Alltel, CDMA, T-Mobile, AT&T, GSM, cellular service [/tags]