Consumers Union says: Unlock these phones!

Consumers Union, the people behind Consumer Reports magazine, are launching a campaign to get the FCC to force cellular carriers to end the practice of "locking" handsets and making them impossible to use on another carrier (it's sort of a moot point for anyone with Verizon or Sprint, since they use CDMA phones, and even when unlocked they usually need to be reprogrammed to be used on another carrier). Carlo Longino over at The Feature argues that while it's an appealing sentiment, forcing carriers to offer unlocked phones is actually a bad idea. Why? Because without a way to make sure they can make back their money, carriers will simply stop subsidizing handsets, meaning that that "free" cellphone you got when you signed up for service might cost $200 next time around. And besides which, if you really want to unlock your phones there are ways to do it cheaply or even for free.