02 Aug What Are Unlocked Cell Phones
When you purchase a new cell phone from a network provider such as Verizon, AT & T or Sprint for example, the cell phone will likely be locked to that particular network provider. This basically means you can only use that provider's network. You will not be able to take the phone and sign up to a different network. With unlocked cell phones, you totally remove that restriction. If a communication device has been unlocked, you will be able to just plug in the appropriate network's SIM card and you will be able to use the phone.
A SIM card is a Subscriber Identity Module and basically holds the identifying information needed to authenticate to a particular service provider's network. Many phone manufacturers will design the phone to only work with one particular SIM card which means that you can not use alternate SIM cards to access networks other than your particular providers'. This is what is meant to be locked to one service provider and in some countries it is illegal for provider's to force this lack of choice onto consumers.
GSM is an acronym for Global System for Mobile communication. GSM is the most prevalent standard for cell phones in the entire world today. This technology allows users to switch carriers without switching phones when they are roaming. One obvious benefit of this is that when you roam outside of the area of your particular network provider, you are able to use another provider whose area you are then currently in. Unlocked cell phones allow users to do this without having to manually switch SIM cards.
Now, the SIM is used in GSM cell phones. The SIM is just a small card which is inserted into the phone, also known as a handset. So in order to have an unlocked device, you need to have a GSM cell phone. It is legal for people in the United States to have and use unlocked devices. As a matter of fact, in November of 2006, the United Stated Copyright Office issued a statement that you have a right to unlock your cell phone.
It is obvious why GSM is such a popular communications technology. Consumers do not want to be tied, or locked, to one service provider. We should be able to choose who we want to do business with. We should be able to decide who has the best service plan for out own needs. We should also be able to decide which network provides the best reception in our area.
For people who travel to other parts of the world, the benefits of GSM technology are that you will not need to carry a different cell phone for each country you will be visiting. You will only need the appropriate SIM card and your unlocked device.
By Keri Cooper