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Consumers Union To FCC: Unlock Our Phones

Article Comments  100+  

Apr 7, 2004, 12:25 PM   by (staff)

Consumers Union yesterday launched a campaign to lobby the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to outlaw the practice of "locking" mobile phones to specific wireless carriers. Known as carrier locks or subsidy locks, the practice prevents consumers from using their old phone when they switch to a different carrier with a compatible network. Carriers argue that the locks are the only way to prevent abuse of subsidies that keep handset prices low.

more info at Consumers Union »
more info at RCR Wireless News »

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Comments

This forum is closed.

This forum is closed.

im2fn6e

Apr 9, 2004, 10:17 PM

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IF YOU WONDER WHAT MY MOTIVE IS FOR POSTING THIS, MY CARRIER REFUSES TO UNLOCK ANY PHONES FOR ANY PERSON FOR REASON. EVEN IF LEGITMATE, SUCH AS INTERNATION TRAVEL. SO THIS IS WHAT I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THEIR B.S. POLICY.... EVERYONE OUT THEIR ENJOY!!!!
Laughing Dude where were you a month ago. I paid $5.99 to unlock my phone. I'm going to make note for future unlocking necessities. Wink
Thanks, much appreciated.
...
I looked at the codes generated for my phone by unlock.nokiafree.org but I had no idea what to choose for the 'GEN' field. I was therefore wary of the 7 codes generated, not to mention the warning that my phone would be unlockable only by cable if 5 ...
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Prodigy031887

Apr 7, 2004, 1:08 PM

wow.....

About time some said something bout this.... Very Happy
but then when it comes time for people to buy a new phone they will still be complaining that they even have to pay for it.
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now people will be complaining about how expensive the phones are....they just won't stop complaining
I think it's about time. Why should a phone service tell me what phones to use when there are other phones compatible? It's like AOL telling me I have to use a specific Dell desktop, or Comcast/Adelphia/Cox cable internet tell me I have to buy a Gatew...
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I view it this way: How dare carriers take our money for their phones and then put restrictions on how we can use them? Screw them and their whining about not being able to offer subsidies anymore. Carriers will ALWAYS offer subsidies no matter what. ...
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Wow i didnt even know people complained about this. They obviously freakin' don't know how much phones really cost.

Dammit, just goto a shop and freakin' pay 20 bucks to get your damn phone un-locked. If all phones came un-locked....there'd be hell...
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I can tell some of you folks have no clue about this game works.

I pay my carrier $100 bucks for a phone, then to get you to activate with me, I sell it to your for nothing. I know I'm getting a nice commission from the carier for the activation, s...
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The main result of this, I think, is that the price that customers pay for cell phones in the first place will skyrocket. No free phone for you!
You dont really think that unlocked phones is a good idea do ya ???

1.phone companies lose money do to loss of sales.

2.Cell phones prices go up 2X plus.

3.Serivce reps would then have to now how to program phones.

How do you think sprin...
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I think the idea of a different type of contract is a good one.

You want a free phone? Fine it will be locked you agreed to this contract once you fulfill your agreement then we'll unlock the phone. You want it unlocked fine you are going to pa...
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Inquisitor_Hoth

Apr 12, 2004, 1:58 PM

THe real reson phones are locked

One thing I should mention that no one else realized. Non GSM phones would have problems with roaming. The reason you can't use a TDMA cingular on TDMA AT&T wireless is because the phone is programed to go for cingular towers first which would charge the consumer but at&t still gets roaming charges from Cingular cause the phone always connects to Cingular Towers before AT&T's(which does not happen with GSM because that is on the sim card). And I would have to say the same goes for verizon and sprint.
Sorry would not charge the consumer if in their home area. Surprised
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you are half correct in the reason you cant use on the other but it has nothing to do with the soc lock which is what keeps a phone
"locked" to a carrier. the roaming on phones can be changed very easily but you have to be able to get into the ...
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CCphoneguru

Apr 10, 2004, 6:05 PM

Think About this...

I happen to work for Circuit City, so this doesn't apply to me, but if they unlock the phones, wouldn't that hurt people who sell phones for these cellular companies and work on commission? I really don't know how their commission system works, but I just thought it would negatively impact these employees.
I work for T-mobile and just looking ahead if this happened, a TON of lay-offs would happen since profits will drop. To me, they should not do this, if you want a certain phone, buy it from that company, kill your contract and keep the phone and then...
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Rich Brome

Apr 7, 2004, 9:49 PM

My take on it - for what it's worth..

I'm all for an end to locking. The truth is, this wouldn't mean an end to subsidies at all.

Contracts are still a perfectly valid and effective way to retain customers and ensure subsidies aren't lost. Without locks, we may see some termination fees rise, but that's probably about it. I don't think it will impact much else.

The truth is, it's only a couple of major carriers that are strict about locks anyway - Sprint and AT&T Wireless. The rest have pretty reasonable policies.

Cingular has the right idea when it comes to subsidies. A few months ago I shopped for Cingular service, and there were three options:
  1. 2-year contract / phone for free
  2. 1-year contract / phone half-price
  3. no contract / phone full-price
...
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I have to disagree, but only in one aspect:

Phone are also the means to differentiate one carrier from another. While there is certainly *some* carry-over from one provider to another, there's also a significant amount of difference. More of the ...
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tf8251

Apr 9, 2004, 6:23 PM

Unlocking phones isn't the best for consumers!

The only problem with unlocking phones (especially GSM phones) is the use of different frequencies with different companies in different markets.

Perfect examples are the phones that are already unlocked overseas that are brought back to the states. The consumer automatically thinks GSM is GSM is GSM (meaning that any GSM phone will work on any network, anywhere). NOT TRUE!!!!!!! This is the problem I encounter all of the time working for Cingular. In our market (Genesis market), we operate off of the 850 GSM frequency. Most phones you find overseas do not have the compatibility for this frequency, since it is a North America frequency.

Also, because T-Mobile uses 1900 in the states, AT&T uses 850 in most markets (1900 in others),...
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ATT's network uses MOSTLY 1900 and will, pending FCC approval, soon be a part of Cingular's network.

Also, Unlocking these phones will NOT be more a of headache for you!!! the majority of U.S. wireless subscribers are already brainwashed into thin...
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Big Daddy

Apr 9, 2004, 8:08 PM

Another important point...

If this law is passed one horrible thing will happen which no one has talked about...there will be more motorola phones in circulation and people will not have to get rid of them just because they are switching carriers. TO ME SOMEONE WHO HAS WORKED WITH MOTO PHONES FOR 8 YRS NOW MORE MOTO PHONES = Mad Confused Crying or Very sad Sad Rolling Eyes Crying or Very sad Confused Mad
in that same note though if you moto phone is crap, take it to the source. If you're phone broke it's not our problem. At some point people will learn that price does not equal quality. very little troubleshooting neccessary. If their phone has a prob...
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gtskhaki

Apr 9, 2004, 3:40 PM

You're Missing The Point

This board is chock-full of industry apologists and status-quo defenders. I can't believe how fiercely some of you will defend a wireless provider's "right" to lock your phone.

This practice could be justified while a phone is in contract, perhaps, but they should at least be forced to divulge the master subsidy lock code after they have collected a break fee (which is ostensibly charged to recover the loss they took on the sale of equipment) or after the contract has been fulfilled.

The fact is, consumers pay for every penny of these phones one way or another, so the provider should not be able to hold them hostage, whether or not it makes the phones "cheaper" to begin with. And anyway, no one is saying they can't subsidize the cost...
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Amen! I agree 100% with almost all of that!

gtskhaki said:
... What, exactly, are they afraid of? Somehow, I don't think it's poor call quality on non-approved phones.


Well, actually... phones are specifically te...
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What a fantastic post, both you and Rich could not have expressed my feelings any better.
IVIYTH

Apr 7, 2004, 7:11 PM

That is the worst Idea

Us Americans love are free phone offers right, but we also want unlocked phones. Well you can't have your cake and eat it too. You are going to have to give up one or the other. If carriers are forced to unlock phones say goodbye to free phones or better yet say goodbye to Service Providers selling phones at all; What would be the point let the consumer worried about their COAM devices. So all you consumers out there quit being greedy Surprised
And if providers stop selling phones why would they even want to support them? Need to bring it into the store to get it looked at? Too bad... Don't need a tech don't sell phones.

Can't figure out why your phone is locked well that isn't a phone t...
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markie

Apr 9, 2004, 11:49 AM

CU Union proves once again that they are clueless.

Has anybody ever read an issue of Consumer Reports and not found at least one MAJOR mistake? They present themselves as "experts", but they are certainly anything BUT. The current situation is GOOD for consumers:

1. You can get some really sweet deals on new phones. Especially if you're transfering providers, you can often get the new one to give you the same phone (or current equivilent) as you had on the last one for free.

2. The Li-Ion batteries start to degrade after a year and are extremely expensive. New phone = new battery.

3. The phones themselves don't last terribly long, and by the time people change providers, they don't have much life left.

4. A new mobile customer can get a free phone. If you guys get your way - be p...
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Tjohnson329

Apr 8, 2004, 8:41 PM

PHONES ARE LOCKED FOR A REASON

Listen i have read some of the post that you people have left. All i hear is people talking about unlocking phones will save people money and i do agree that it will. The deposits will be lower in general. I work for verizon and i se $1000 deposits all the time if phones were unlocked and people bring there own phones then it will make things alot easier

BUT

For instance Verizons network is updating very fast just like sprint. When people have older verizon phones that they want hooked up on the network verizon is not letting them hook the phones on the network cause the older phones are slowing down the network. They are not capable of using the new network which i can understand and most of these customers don't...
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not to mention that t-mobile use gsm, att uses gsm and TDMA, cingular uses GSM, sprint uses CDMA 1900 and verizon uses CDMA 1900, and nextel is on CDMA 800. What i am trying to say is that your phone would have to be very compatible with the network e...
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Tjohnson329 said:
... When people have older verizon phones that they want hooked up on the network verizon is not letting them hook the phones on the network cause the older phones are slowing down the network. They are not capabl
...
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nskgti

Apr 7, 2004, 6:15 PM

Get ready for NO MORE FREE PHONES EVER

If they put this in place, PHONES WILL NO LONGER BE FREE... EVER!!!!

I can't wait for the consumers union's response to that...b
I don't agree. First off, contracts are there specifically to subsidize the handsets, in order to get customers hooked on the carrier's service, and contracts aren't going to go away. If it's economically viable for wireless carriers to subsidize, t...
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And so what if phones weren't free. Would you rather have a better phone with more flexibility or a cheap piece of crap?

Why is it we in the U.S. want the latest and greatest technologies, the biggest and the flashiest and will pay for it, EXCEPT ...
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PodLizard

Apr 9, 2004, 12:28 AM

Yeah More Government in wireless....

All the references to Europe and how great the unlocked phones are seem to be forgetting the reason we are so behind them in the 1st place... The FCC! The way they divided up radio spectrum to pieces to ensure competition has created and fueled our divergent technologies. These do good consumer groups always end up increasing the cost to consumers while acting in their best interest. Now the FCC is asked to step in and undo 20 years of meddling with even more meddling. Confused When will it end............maybe next time I will learn how to use a paragraph correctly Embarassed
Actually, the European spectrum is divided up almost exactly the same as the U.S. spectrum. They have a small 900 band that looks a lot like our 800(850) band, and their DCS band looks pretty similar to our PCS band.

Specifically, in many European ...
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kp2575

Apr 7, 2004, 5:50 PM

Worst Idea Ever...

You have to remember that 80% of the users that use cell phones are not as technology literate as the people that look at this site. For the masses out there this would be a horrible idea.

Let me comment on some of the arguments.

1) Better for the environment- People switch phones the most not because they are leaving companies but because phones improve and they get old. If you took ten people how many have phones that are not totally dinged up after two years, 7 out of 10 I would guess. They aren't buying a ton of phones because they are leaving. How many Pc's have you gone through? Phones like PC's change over time. Do you still have the first VCR you bought? The first microwave.

2) Freedom to move... Yeah competition is great...
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If this ever happens will will see prices rise astronomicaly.

I wanna know what there idea is on getting CDMA phones to work flawlessly with other CDMA carriers and getting them to work on different networks.

Interchanging GSM phone is easy becu...
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Why can't a combination of unlocked and locked phones work? A situation where if you want to pay more for the phone to have the freedom to move your phone to another carrier then sure. Otherwise you can get a cheap/free phone but be locked into that...
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neighborhood

Apr 8, 2004, 12:15 PM

Unlocked Phones are already available

For those do gooders who think phones should be unlocked, you have the option right now of purchasing them. On this very website, links to go to other sites that sell unlocked phones are regularly flashed.

If you don't mind paying $300+ for phones that were discontinued a year ago, and have been replaced with newer models that can be had for less than $100, go right ahead.

Its better for me if a customer walks in with their own phone anyway, cause I don't take a loss on a handset.

People who pay more for less are also known by another name- suckers. So if you want to be a sucker, pay an extra $200 for an obsolete phone, and bring it to me to activate on the carriers network, please take a number.
fyi: Motorola v400 is alredy unlocked
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kingstu

Apr 8, 2004, 2:29 PM

Unlocked phones = Expanding market for pre-paid

Anyone who has traveled to Europe and Asia understand how big the pre-paid market is. The youth market--teenagers and college students, might not qualify for cellphone plans but are also the most "tech saavy" market segment and the most likely to use the "Value-Added Services" such and ringtones and other features. A smart cellular provider could find a lot of ways to get and keep customers.

Unlocked phones go hand-in-hand with prepaid phone service. Let the customer pay for what he wants--be that the phone or the airtime. In particular, with GSM unlocked phones and the availability of pre-paid SIMs every GSM phone is no longer "disposable" but useful.
Since people who have a contract will still be bound by that contract even if their p...
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Excellent point re prepaid--it's definitely an underutilized market to be sure. Judging by the huge market in pre-paid long distance cards and suchlike, I'd bet there is a titanic untapped market out there for those who don't use a wireless phone reg...
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kp2575

Apr 8, 2004, 1:52 PM

A couple of more points...

the thing is tech geeks like most of the people that read this page are all for it. they want all the toys. But I see a few things happening.

So if it does get to the point where they unlock the phones this is what I see happening. Cell providers will still sell phones subsidized because it make the most sense. It is part of the existing business model and for 90% of their customers it is the best way to go. Customers have a one year warranty, customers have the option for cell insurance, customers have the option for early upgrade with most companies. Things will stay the status quo. I don't think unlocking phones will have a profound impact because with subsidized phones and LNP people already have an avenue to leave at a low or free c...
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cdmamotohead

Apr 7, 2004, 10:03 PM

S T O P

YOU SHOULED BE ABLE TO CHOOSE WHAT PHONE MANUFACTER YOU USE.


CONSUMERS SHOULED NOT EXPECT PHONES JUST BECAUES THEY HAVE SERVICE. THE CABLE COMPANYS DONT GIVE YOU A NEW TV IF YOU HURL YOURS OUT ON THE LAWN.



IF THE PHONES ARE MORE EXPENSIVE THE CONSUMER WILL MAKE THE CREAM RISE TO THE TOP, PHONE COMPANYS WILL HAVE TO MAKE QUALITY PRODUCTS IF YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY 300 PLUS ON A PHONE. THERE IS A REASON WHY A COMPUTER CAN RANGE FROM 500 TO 2500 DOLLARS, BECAUES YOU PAY FOR WHAT YOU GET
AMEN TO THAT, CUSTOMERS WANT CAMERA PHONES FOR $5
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LuckyYou

Apr 8, 2004, 11:35 AM

Consumers

I agree with those of you who are stating that consumers do not realize the cost of phones. I used to work for VZW and customers got Evil or Very Mad ANGRY Evil or Very Mad at the fact that they even had to pay TAXES on full retail price! I'm not longer in the industry, but I enjoy reading about it and I'm still in a retail environment as know that consumers want it fast and cheap but expect top quality.

Customers expect everything for free, especially if they are "long time" customers. My answer to that is that I've been a McDonald's customer for years and I don't get my fries free with my burger.

There are pro's and con's to unlocked phones, but the reality is that the average consumer isn't educated enough to deal with it. Rolling Eyes
Big Daddy

Apr 7, 2004, 11:34 PM

READ THIS

Customers expect way too much in my opinion and want more phone than they can handle. I have personally had 7 phones in 2 yrs because I love to change phones, they have all been Nokia and have all worked. Once Nokia makes a megapixel camera phone I will buy it. Whether it is $150 or $850 I will buy it, to quote someone earlier. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. I wish all 100,000,000 wireless customers would read my post and all the others on this forum.
 
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