Harry Argentino

Mobile phone companies might be forced to open handsets for free

Mobile phone business might be required to unlock handsets free of charge, if the Government follows through on a goal spelled out in Wednesday's Budget.

At present, some networks charge clients as much as 20 to open a phone, according to figures from Ofcom.

Others will do it complimentary of charge, with no minimum contract requirement.

Opening a handset allows the client to use a Sim card from an alternative network, offering them the liberty to switch suppliers and lower their costs.

The Government thinks that mobile phone users must have the ability to do this as quickly as they are outside the contract duration attached to the handset.

It desires companies to register voluntarily however "stands ready to seek advice from on legal alternatives", if they do not.

An estimated 48m is spent by people unlocking phones every year, according to information from comparison website uSwitch.com.

Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, stated: This is a sound judgment Budget addition, especially provided the huge appeal of flexible SIM-only deals that put on to tie people in for two years.

However the Government could have taken this one step further. Preferably handsets would come opened when purchased, instead of needing to be opened complimentary of charge at the end.

Changing to a SIM-only deal is a simple way to save money because, from the minute a pay-monthly agreement with a comprehensive phone has ended, customers are throwing money down the drain by spending for a handset the expense of which is absorbed into their monthly expenses that they`ve already settled.

A representative from Ofcom said: We welcome the Government`s strategies to consult on making mobile phone opening complimentary, which might help eliminate an obstacle for customers who want to change service provider.

"We have offered Government with guidance on how this could be implemented and anticipate engaging with the assessment. In the meantime, Ofcom will shortly describe strategies to make it simpler for mobile consumers to change supplier.

How do I get my handset opened?

If your network is locked then you can ask your service provider to unlock it for you. Each company has a slightly different policy and process for opening phones.

At present Three Mobile is the only firm which allows pay as you go and pay monthly customers to open handsets totally free, at any phase.

A representative from Three Mobile said: Paying to open your mobile phone is wrong and frustrating for consumers.

That s why all handsets agreement and prepay - on the Three network have been unlocked at the point of purchase since January 1st 2014. It s good that clients of other networks will finally have the ability to take pleasure in a comparable experience.

 

 

Consumers who haven't currently sorted out their pre-order of the brand-new Apple phone can still get their hands on the new handset, either straight from Apple, or from among the primary other merchants that will be stocking the device.

The new model will be offered on Virgin Media, O2, Vodafone, EE, Three and Giffgaff mobile phone networks, with each provider offering their most competitive tariffs.

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