Groups Again Take Aim At Cellphone Subsidies
from the teeter-totter dept
There’s been a constant clamor over the past few years from some consumer groups that want to see mobile operators forced to stop locking handsets they sell, so that phones will be able to work with any compatible operator. The argument is that locking handsets to operators diminishes the competition among the operators, particularly when operators compete by getting exclusive deals on particular devices (such as the iPhone, which is locked to AT&T). But it’s always seemed that the groups are looking to have their cake and eat it too: the locked devices and contracts operators use allow them to recover the subsidies they spend to drop the upfront costs of handsets. So if the groups want to do away with locks and other techniques that support the subsidies, that’s fine, as long as they’re also willing to accept higher device costs. But somehow, that part always gets left out, just as it has in stories covering the latest push by the groups (via MocoNews) and some smaller operators to get the government to outlaw handset exclusives. If these groups want to eliminate cheap handsets for consumers, they need to explain that — or explain exactly how these regulations they want won’t serve to lower service prices, but offset that with much higher device prices.