Unlocking cellphones to be illegal in USA

Posted on by Mike Evans

If this report is to believed, unlocking your cellphone so it can be used on any network is to be made illegal in the USA from Saturday. What nonsense is this? If it is true (and April 1 is still two months away) I hope this monopolistic idea does not spread to Europe.

Locking to a network has long been the practice in many countries (but not in all) to prevent users from obtaining discounts on phones and then turning to another network. It is a discredited and deplorable practice which serves no purpose other than to annoy and inconvenience users.

If you sign up with a network, perhaps for 18 months or two years, in order to get a cheap phone it should make no difference whether the phone is locked or unlocked. You are still committed to pay the full amount over the contract period or incur a penalty fee, so why do the networks bother with locking?

Owning an unlocked phone, or one that you have been able to unlock yourself, has big advantages when travelling abroad. You can usually find a cheap local SIM card for phone calls and data. With a locked phone you are stuck with paying the carrier's exorbitant international roaming charges.

I've looked at phone buying every whichway and conclude that it is wiser overall to buy an unlocked phone and then go for the cheapest monthly SIM contract you can find. Your maximum commitment is then 30 days and you can swap carriers whenever you sniff a better deal. When you work out the figures, bearing in mind the re-sale price of your unlocked iPhone after one or two years, the unlocked phone usually works out cheaper.

by Mike Evans, 24 January 2013

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