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How To Unlock a T-Mobile Phone

Now that carriers are observing the CTIA's Consumer Code for Wireless Service, they can no longer refuse to unlock devices for customers that meet certain criteria. Before the unlocking policy went into effect, T-Mobile was not known to have an issue with unlocking their devices. Consumers can unlock their T-Mobile phones, if they meet a few requirements. Having an unlocked device allows customers to use these devices with other wireless service providers. There is a minimum time requirement for a phone to get unlocked. The phone must have been in use on T-Mobile's line for, at minimum, 40 days. Also, users are only granted two device unlocks per service line each year.

Requirements for Unlocking Devices

A T-Mobile device cannot get unlocked if it was reported as lost or stolen, or if the phone is used in a way that breaches T-Mobile's term of service, like using the phone with fraudulent activity. Additional requirements may apply if the device is used with a prepaid service, purchased through a financing plan, or bought on a contract.

Financed Devices. T-Mobile Jump! Customers and customers on the Equipment Installment Plan can have their phones unlocked as long as their account is in good standing and the equipment is paid in full. Anyone who is still making payments on their financing plan may qualify to have their phone unlocked when they pay off the remaining balance.

Two-Year Contract. A phone purchased on a contract may be unlocked after on-time, consecutive payments are made over an 18-month period. It may be possible to request unlock if this requirement has not been met. However, customers will need to switch to a Simple Choice plan. Also, the account cannot have a past due balance.

Prepaid Customers. A request to unlock devices purchased for use with the prepaid services will be granted if the device was used on T-Mobile's network for at least 12 months. It might be possible to unlock a device that does not meet the time requirement. To circumvent the time requirement, basic phones must have received more than $25 in prepaid refills and smartphones must have at least $100 in prepaid refills.

Deployed Military Personnel. Military members who are deployed abroad can request an unlock at any time. The only requirements for the unlock include having an up-to-date account without a past due balance and T-Mobile needs a copy of the servicemember's deployment papers.

What Information is Required to Unlock a T-Mobile Device

Any customer who meets the previously stated requirements can request an unlock by contacting T-Mobile's customer service. The following information is needed: the name of the account holder, the last four digits of the account holder's social security number, the account password, the phone number for the line the device is currently on, and the device's MEID or IMEI number. The number is located underneath the battery cover or on the back of some phones. The number can also be obtained by dialing #06 on the phone and pressing the "Send" or "Call" button, as well as the phone number for the line the device is being used on. The customer service agent will inform military customers who are going overseas for their deployment where they can send their deployment papers.

Check the Device's Compatibility Before Unlocking It

Before unlocking the device, check to see that there aren't any issues with compatibility on the new carrier's network. GMS technology is used by the networks of AT&T and T-Mobile Because T-Mobile and AT&T use GMS technology for their networks, unlocked devices will work on both networks. LTE devices will also work on both networks because they are both on band 4.

Verizon uses CDMA technology. T-Mobile GSM devices cannot be used to text or make calls on their 3G CDMA network. However, Verizon and T-Mobile use the same 4G LTE spectrum, so T-Mobile customers that use T-Mobile LTE devices can use these devices on Verizon.

Customers who use Sprint may run into issues. While Sprint is a CDMA provider, the company uses a different band spectrum that other 4G LTE carriers. As of now, they are not willing to let customers use non-Sprint devices on their network.

Owners of T-Mobile devices should not have issues unlocking their devices for use on certain small service providers. Some of these providers are MVNO's (mobile virtual network operators) or T-Mobile prepaid brands. There should not be an issue using T-Mobile devices with these companies because they are on the same network at T-Mobile.

Anyone who plans to travel abroad may want purchase a local SIM card in the country they are visiting. Use the SIM card with the unlocked T-Mobile phone. Since T-Mobile uses the GMS standard as their network, their device might be compatible with mobile networks in most countries. Contact the carrier, or view their website, to find out the device will work with a particular carrier.