AT&T: We’re totally fine with smartphone unlocking (just as long as you pay your bill)

So you think you should be able to unlock your smartphone, eh? Not only does the White House agree with you, but AT&T does, too.

In a lengthy post on its policy blog, AT&T says that it’s right there with its customers on the legality of smartphone unlocking … just as long as its customers pay their bills and aren’t still under contract.

Here’s how AT&T puts it:

We believe this policy is fully consistent with the White House statement from earlier this week – namely that if a customer has paid for his or her device and is no longer bound by a service agreement or other obligation, the customer should be able to use the device on another network. We hope this clears up any confusion.

AT&T’s policy is bulleted with asterisks, but for the most part, it’s pretty sound. Yet, as the sole commenter on AT&T’s posts points out, just because AT&T lets customers unlock their phones, that doesn’t mean the company plans to make the process easy.

When I bought my iPhone 5 at full retail, it took me three weeks to get you guys to do it, because you required faxing at specific moments, and all sorts of weird stuff. You guys refused to unlock my iPhone 4 until after my contract term expired, and even then, it took four tries to get someone who actually didn’t tell me that you can’t unlock it.

I don’t know what’s going on there, but its obvious you aren’t following that policy you describe.

Obviously, it’s tough to vouch for the truthfulness of the commenter’s claims, but it’s not tough to imagine why AT&T might want to take its sweet time with unlocking customers’ phones.

Either way, if you were curious where AT&T stands on all this, now you know.

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