The easiest way to unlock an AT&T cellphone as of March 2015 is to request a free unlock code from AT&T customer service. While AT&T is legally required to unlock its phones, there are terms and conditions that must be met before the company provides unlock codes to customers.
Unlocking cellphones was illegal in the United States until 2014, but regulatory and legal changes now obligate all cellphone providers to unlock phones from their network on customer request. However, AT&T's terms and conditions for providing an unlock code to their customers are among the most stringent of major providers. In comparison, competitor Verizon Wireless currently sells most of its phones already unlocked with the exception of certain prepaid models.
AT&T policy states that the company unlocks cellphones on request from customers providing that all the obligations of any service contract are fulfilled. This includes termination fees, so it is not possible to buy a phone on contract and unlock it before the contract expires without incurring these fees. Customers on contract or postpaid plans must be current on their accounts within the past 60 days, while prepaid customers must have used their devices on AT&T's network for at least six months. The phone must also not be reported lost, stolen or involved in fraudulent activity to be eligible for an unlock, according to AT&T policy.