You might think that rules regarding carriers locking smartphones to their networks would be the kind of thing overseen by the FCC, but the way things currently work in the US, that provision is addressed by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, with exemptions granted by the Library of Congress. After the last round of consideration removed protection for users interested in unlocking their phones, public outcry resulted in a successful petition to force the White House to discuss the issue. It turns out that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is interested, as well, citing concerns he has with the ban’s effect on innovation and competition.
The fact that Genachowski is talking about this is a positive step for the fight, but even he’s not sure just what the FCC might be able to do, nor if it would be appropriate for it to take such action. At the least, it’s a topic he wants to give some further thought, saying “it’s something that we will look at at the FCC to see if we can and should enable consumers to use unlocked phones.”
It may be too early to start getting optimistic that a change could be coming, but it seems clear that the message is out there that people are seriously unhappy with the current state of affairs.