Free The Mobile Phones To Make Them More Expensive

from the consumer-protection? dept

At Techdirt, we’re big supporters of consumer rights and convincing companies to do what’s right for consumers – but sometimes these groups seem to forget to think one step ahead towards the consequences of their actions. That seems to be the case with a group that is trying to sue wireless carriers to force them to offer unlocked mobile phones which can be used on various networks (though, only the GSM networks, since that’s the only case where it would matter). As Eric Lin writes in TheFeature, if this gets anywhere, it could make things worse for the very “consumers” they’re trying to protect. Most mobile phones these days are heavily subsidized by the carriers – and forcing them to offer unlocked phones will likely mean much greater reluctance to offer such a subsidy on a phone that could be taken to another provider. Instead, prices for most phones would rise sharply – harming everyone who isn’t concerned about having an unlocked phone. Since there already are unlocked phones on the market (though, as you might expect, they’re a bit pricier) it seems like the market is working this one out by itself. Those who want an unlocked phone can pay for it, while everyone else gets the benefit of cheaper phones. So far, it appears that most buyers prefer the cheaper price to the idea that, one day, they may want to pop in another providers SIM card to switch mobile carriers.

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Comments on “Free The Mobile Phones To Make Them More Expensive”

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Griffon says:

unlocked is your friend

Not to be disagreeable or anything, but in actuality the phones could be a lot cheaper unlocked or locked. The drive the price down to what the market will bear for a particular target audience (all the way to free). Unlocking the phones won’t result in a price hike because the market won’t bear it, but it will force providers to add other incentives (*Gasp* customer service?) to try to make sure that people don’t walk. The days of gun point termination fees and lock-ins are getting very long in the tooth as consumers become more savvy and start asking reasonable questions. Course they will just stick us all with some more made up official sounding charges to balance it all out, but the point is there won’t be some huge jump unless it’s conspiracy/price fixing issue with all the carries on board. The risk of loss of business to the one group that won’t go along is to huge IMO

AMetamorphosis says:



I’m with you !
I would MUCH RATHER pay for my own phone then be stuck in a crappy contract in order to get my LOCKED phone that is useless if I do up and tell the carrier to cram it, pay the exorbitant ” early termination fee ” & tell them to piss off.

Imagine if our cars only ran on specific gasolines because Ford partners with Shell or Chevy with Exxon ?

Do you sign a 2 year contract on any other utility you use ? Why do we put up with this crap ?

BTW Mike, UNLOCKING phones just MIGHT reduce the exorbitant amount of phones we dispose of every time we change cell carriers. I think that cost needs to be taken into account as well.

Bt Garner says:

Re: Re: Re: FREE THE PHONES !!!!

Well, from what I understand most (all?) unlocked phones will not work on certain carriers systems (Cingular).

This is what I have been told be several Cingular reps (in store and on the phone).

And even if you do use one, I somehow doubt that they are going to let you sign up without a long term contract.

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