For many years, cell phone carriers offered discounts to customers in exchange for having an exclusive agreement with that particular carrier. Oftentimes, this would result in your phone being locked, meaning that it would not work with another carrier.
This rule went so far in that there was a public law that stated it was illegal to unlock your phone. But in August of 2014, The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act was signed by President Obama, which repealed the previous law thus allowing consumers the ability to unlock their phone.
Unlocking your phone allows consumers to use their current phone with another network -- which is often part of a bring your own phone plan. These plans are cost effective alternatives to pricey contracts.
But How Do you Unlock a Phone?
If you're wondering how to unlock a phone, in order to use it for a Bring Your Own Phone plan, here are some tips to get started.
First, it's key to get everything in order. To start the process, you will need:
- IMEI of your device, which is a unique identifier for your mobile phone. Not sure how to find it? One way is by dialing the code *#06#. Your IMEI number will then appear on your mobile phone.
- If you have an iPhone 5, the IMEI number is engraved on the back of the phone, towards the bottom. You can also find it under Settings/General/About/IMEI.
- You will also need your phone number.
- The account holder's full name.
- Account number.
- Copy of your contract.
Once you have all your information, you can move to the next step. Unfortunately, the actual process of unlocking your phone is different for each and every cell phone carrier. So whether you have AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint, there will be a different process for each.
Be sure to call your carrier and inquire about unlocking your phone. If your contract is up, they should be able to do it for free, but if you are still stuck in a contract, you may be charged a fee. You will want to make sure you ask questions about unlocking your phone and know all the financial ramifications of doing so. Your carrier will give you an unlock code.
To get started, you will need to insert a new SIM card in your phone from your new mobile carrier. Upon inserting the SIM card, you should be asked to enter a code. Once you receive this message, enter your unlock code.
Aside from working directly with your mobile carrier, there are also paid services out there to help you unlock your phone. You will need your IMEI number, which is the unique reference number for your phone. Be sure to check out reviews of the company and make sure they have verifiable references.
Unlocking your phone can be a great opportunity to switch providers, while being able to keep your number and your phone. Instead of being forced into a new contract, a new phone, and potentially a new number, you can have a bring your own phone plan by unlocking your phone.