TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: A Call to Let Your Phone Loose

Re: A Call to Let Your Phone Loose

Steven J. Sobol (
Fri, 9 Feb 2007 07:30:59 UTC

In article <>, Charles Babington

> Wireless carriers, which limit what customers may do with their
> phones, say the move is unnecessary and potentially harmful. But in
> articles, blogs and speeches, a number of researchers are asking why
> the companies are allowed to force consumers to buy new handsets when
> they change carriers ...

Sometimes, you don't have a choice. Perhaps the consumer groups should
do their homework.

Of the majors:

**Alltel, Sprint and Verizon use the same technology -- CDMA. You could
conceivably transfer between them, and in the past, I took a Nokia
6185 from Alltel to Verizon. Sprint locks their phones, though, and I
think Alltel started a couple years ago.

**Cingular and T-Mobile USA are both GSM. The phones are sold SIM-locked
(which means you can only use SIM/subscriber cards from the carrier)
but both companies WILL unlock phones that have been on their networks
for a specified number of months.

**Nextel is iDEN. No other US carrier uses the same technology, so
whether or not Sprint locks Nextel phones is really a moot point.

> "At some point, I think Americans are going to put their foot down and
> say, 'We won't tolerate this anymore,' " said Dave Passmore, who has
> written extensively on the issue as an analyst for the Burton Group, a
> research firm.

Perhaps he should do more research :)

> Moreover, eliminating controls on the wireless network could undermine
> its security

I think a bigger potential problem might be support. Wireless carriers
tend to not want to support phones they haven't trained their
employees on, which is understandable. (At least I can appreciate that
sentiment, having worked tech support for over ten years!)

> Wu, in his 40-page article "Wireless Net Neutrality," notes that AT&T
> and T-Mobile "lock" their cellphones so users cannot continue using
> them if they switch carriers.

But BOTH companies will unlock the phones. Just not immediately. (I
will concur that the customers need to be made aware of that fact.)

Not that I mean to imply that I think wireless carriers do a good
enough job of keeping things open, but the industry wags and consumer
rights groups aren't doing their homework very well.

Steve Sobol, Professional Geek ** Java/VB/VC/PHP/Perl ** Linux/*BSD/Windows
Victorville, California PGP:0xE3AE35ED

It's all fun and games until someone starts a bonfire in the living room.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: But I feel his point is valid; _should_
the cellular companies be allowed to do things in such a way (as for
example locking their phones) to make these customer inconveniences
necessary? I do not think they should be allowed to do it. PAT]

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