Sprint to unlock phones for departing subscribers

Sprint Nextel has agreed to give departing subscribers the means to unlock their phones for use on competitors' networks, as part of a proposed class-action settlement. The California suit accused the company of anti-competitive practices like forcing a customer to buy a new phone when switching carriers. A similar suit in Palm Beach County, Fla. also will be settled should this solution get the greenlight from the judge.

"We believe this settlement is fair and reasonable," Sprint spokesman Scott Sullivan said. The carrier denies any wrongdoing and claims it settled in order to "focus on our business." The carrier doesn't expect to pay any damages apart from legal fees, maybe. The settlement covers Sprint subscribers who bought a phone from the carrier between Aug. 28, 1999 and July 16, 2007.

T-Mobile USA is facing a similar suit in California, while iPhone users have filed two suits against AT&T and Apple.

For more on the proposed settlement:
- read this article from the WSJ (sub. req.)