The White House Favors Moving Cell Phones Out Of Reach For Poor Americans

Cell Phone

Obama’s White House has an online petition process whereby any petition submitted that obtains 25,000 signatures or more will be guaranteed a response by the White House.  Recently, just such a petition hit more than 100,000 signatures:

The Librarian of Congress decided in October 2012 that unlocking of cell phones would be removed from the exceptions to the DMCA.

As of January 26, consumers will no longer be able unlock their phones for use on a different network without carrier permission, even after their contract has expired.

Consumers will be forced to pay exorbitant roaming fees to make calls while traveling abroad. It reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full.

The Librarian noted that carriers are offering more unlocked phones at present, but the great majority of phones sold are still locked.

We ask that the White House ask the Librarian of Congress to rescind this decision, and failing that, champion a bill that makes unlocking permanently legal.

The petition, on its face, is fine.  However, one thing that it left out was the impact of just such a ruling would mean.

Today, cell phone operators subsidize cell phone purchases in exchange for a contract that locks the customer in for a predetermined amount of time.  This subsidy, often in the hundreds of dollars, allows for customers to obtain these phones very cheap or, in some cases, free.  By allowing people to unlock their phone legally, the cell phone companies will have no incentive to subsidize their phones and will, as a result, force the customer to assume the full cost of the phone.

The result?  Normal folks are going to be faced with higher cell phone costs than they otherwise would be.

3 responses to “The White House Favors Moving Cell Phones Out Of Reach For Poor Americans

  1. What are the rules for the Obama phone?

  2. What are the rules for the Obama phone?

    I think the right has this one wrong. The program started before Obama.

    SafeLink Wireless, the program mentioned in the e-mail, does indeed offer a cell phone, about one hour’s worth of calling time per month, and other wireless services like voice mail to eligible low-income households. Applicants have to apply and prove that they are either receiving certain types of government benefits, such as Medicaid, or have household incomes at or below 135 percent of the poverty line. Using 2009 poverty guidelines, that’s $14,620 for an individual and a little under $30,000 for a family of four, with slightly higher amounts for Alaska and Hawaii.

  3. You’re using the year 2009. ❓

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