Searching around on the Web, I’ve found a lot of sites that will charge you between $25 and $35 to unlock your Samsung i607 Blackjack. However, I came across a post describing how to get your phone unlocked for free via Cingular. I decided to try it, since I’m legitimately headed to Europe this summer and need to unlock my phone.
I couldn’t find much on the Web about it, so I thought I’d write up a comprehensive post about my experience unlocking the phone.
I called Cingular’s International Care Center at (916) 843-4685 Tuesday morning and spoke with a customer service representative, who confirmed that I could unlock all my Cingular phones for international travel. To unlock my Blackjack, I read him my International Mobile Equipment Identity, or IMEI, number, which can be found on the product box or by entering the code *#06# on the Blackjack’s keypad.
After I read him the IMEI, he processed it through the computer and gave me an unlock code specific to my phone. He then instructed me to power down my phone, take out the Subscriber Identification Module, or SIM, card and power it back up. Once the phone rebooted, I entered in the code #7465625*638*, which brought up the prompt: Enter Network Control Key. I put in my unlock code, and the phone returned the message: Successfully Disable Locking Status.
I haven’t tested the phone with a SIM card from a different network, so I’m not sure if this actually worked. However, the screen prompts looked promising.
Afterward, I tried to unlock my old Motorola v551, however, the representative told me that I could not do it over the phone and had to wait seven to 10 business days for an e-mail with an unlock code and instructions. I went ahead and submitted a request.
The reason why all this is possible probably is because of the Library of Congress and the Register of Copyright, which made phone unlocking legal in November 2006. The governing bodies announced six exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the fifth of which was:
5. Computer programs in the form of firmware that enable wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telephone communication network, when circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network.
The exemptions, according to the government, must be argued for every three years, so the legality of phone unlocking could go away in 2010. For now, I’m just glad I’ll have a phone when I travel this summer. Some good stories about these exemptions have appeared in Ars Technica, The Register and Wired News.