Sprint Will Allow Departing Customers To Unlock Their Phones

Sprint will relinquish unlock codes to departing customers in good standing as part of proposed class action settlement.The class was formed last year by California consumers who argued that the locked phones bound them to Sprint by making it more expensive to switch carriers. Sprint claimed that releasing the codes was unnecessary since the service contract clearly informed consumers that phones would only work on Sprint’s network.

Sprint phones will only work on the CDMA networks used by Verizon and Alltel, not the GSM networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile.

The settlement covers all customers who bought Sprint phones between Aug. 28, 1999, and July 16, 2007. It should allow those phones to be switched to competitors whose networks are compatible with Sprint’s, such as Verizon Wireless and Alltel Corp.

Sprint, whose operational headquarters is in Overland Park, has denied wrongdoing but said it agreed to settle the cases to avoid the uncertainties and expense of litigation.

“We think this is a fair and reasonable settlement,” said Matt Sullivan, a spokesman for Sprint.

The settlement is a victory for consumers, and will hopefully nudge other carriers towards releasing their own codes. Similar class actions have been filed against T-Mobile, Apple and AT&T.

Sprint Nextel will provide code to unlock cell-phone software [Kansas City Star]
(Photo: Maulleigh)