Do New Rules Unlock a Pandora's Box?

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The underreported issue discussed in this Sci-Tech Today story has potentially significant consequences for small and medium-sized businesses and, perhaps to a more limited extent, enterprises.


The piece says that new U.S. Copyright Office rules allow users to unlock their cell phones. Today, software in a cell phone prevents customers of one carrier from using the device on another network. Under the new rules, folks will be able to take their phones along with their numbers to a new carrier.


This is a good thing for corporate users and organizations. It should spur competition and reduce monthly charges. However, the piece points to unintended and perhaps unwelcome byproducts of the ruling.


On the business level, the author suggests that carriers may opt for more stringent contracts or reduce the level to which they subsidize phones.


The other issue is security. The Sci-Tech Today piece says carriers often limit access to features such as Bluetooth as part of the overall locking strategy. The idea is to force subscribers to use revenue-generating alternatives.


These extra limitations may be ditched along with the locking out of alternative networks. If so, those charged with wireless security may face a world in which cellular phones are used for far more numerous, varied -- and perhaps unauthorized -- applications. Add to this the fact that there will be more applications overall, since the ruling will energize the development community.


The new rules will create a more vibrant cell phone business. A byproduct of vibrancy, however, will be new and potentially significant security challenges.