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Sprint Nextel agrees to start unlocking phones

An under-the-radar class action lawsuit against Sprint Nextel is winding its way towards a settlement this week, and it contains a pretty huge concession by Sprint: the company will unlock phones for both current and former customers, and will begin training its customer service reps on how to connect non-Sprint phones to its network. The settlement was tentatively approved by a California judge on October 2, but hasn't had a final approval hearing yet, according to Sprint -- but it's still a huge win for US consumers, who haven't been able to buy mainstream unlocked phones from any of the major carriers. Of course, since Sprint's network is CDMA, unlocked phones will only work on other CDMA carriers like Verizon -- and there's no guarantees those companies will be happy about it -- but at this point we'll take whatever we can get.