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Mobile Phones Locked By DMCA

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the who-needs-choice dept.

The Courts 255

wellington map writes "A mobile phone company is arguing that companies that unlock their handsets violate the DMCA. They argue that the software on the phone is a copyrighted work, and the unlocker is breaking DRM in a way that violates the statutory prohibition on circumvention. A similar claim by Lexmark, which tried to apply it to people who refilled printer cartridges, has recently been rejected by the courts." From the Wired article: "The financial motive behind this claim is obvious. Companies have been using the razor blade business model to guarantee a steady stream of revenue ever since, well, the razor blade. Cell phone companies sell you a phone at a discount, and then make up the difference by requiring you to sign a multi-year contract promising to pay monthly fees for mobile phone service or to fork over a hefty termination penalty if you break the deal. But many customers, particularly those who travel internationally, want more choice."

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AREEMS, AREEMS, I HEAR YO SCREAMS (0, Offtopic)

(TK2)Dessimat0r (669581) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684319)

LATVIAN HOUSE, QUIET AS SHIT, AREEMS WAS ASLEEP, STROKING HIS TIT, SUDDENLY WOKEN BY THE THOUGHTS OF FOOD, HE WANDERED DOWNSTAIRS TOTALLY NUDE, WITH A 1 INCH ERRECTION, HE OPENED THE FRIDGE, A MAN SAT BESIDE HIM, LADEN WITH GRIDS, THE MAN WAS A NIGGER, HE LOOKED LIKE A MESS, WHY WAS THIS MAN WEARING A DRESS? THIS MAN WAS A DARKIE FROM THE GNAA. UNKNOWN TO AREEMS, HE WAS TOTALLY GAY.

HIS 20 FOOT DONG STARTED TO RISE -- HE COULD SEE THE FEAR IN AREEMS' EYES. DON'T BE SHY, HE SAID, WITH A CAMP INFLECTION, ITS OKAY TO GET HIV FROM AN AIDS INFECTION. ANNOUNCING HIS PRESENCE, HE PLUNGED INTO AREEMS, HIS O-RING WAS TEARING AROUND THE SEAMS. AREEMS FELT HIS PRESENCE INSIDE HIS ASS, REMAINS OF DOUGHNUTS STILL YET TO BE PASSED.

THE BLACK MAN MOVED FURTHER INTO AREEMS, VISIONS OF CAKES STILL IN HIS DREAMS. THE NIGGER CAME AND THE BUG WAS PASSED, AREEMS GAVE A FUCK AS THE HOUSE WAS GASSED. THE SS WAS HERE, READY TO KILL, HITLER'S MEN GAVE OUT A SHRILL. "SCHNELL", THEY REPEATED, AS AREEMS WAS CAPTURED, PACKED INTO A TRAIN HEADED FOR RAPTURE.

WHEN HE ARRIVED, GREETED BY JEWS, THIS PLACE HAD FOOD -- HOW COULD HE LOSE? PACKED INTO A CELL AND GIVEN HIS FEAST, JEWISH CORPSES BLOATED WITH YEAST. A TASTE OF ZYKLON-B AS HE TUCKED IN, THIS PLACE WAS SOME SORT OF JEWISH BIN. COULD IT BE AUSCHWITZ? HE ASKED THE ASSCLOWN. HE LAUGHED AND SAID THAT THIS WAS IN FACT #BANTOWN.

AREEMS WAS CONFUSED -- WHY WAS HE HERE? FEASTING ON CORPSES FOR OVER A YEAR. YOUR POSTERIOR, HE SAID, IS USEFUL TO US. YOUR ANUS AFFORDS US A GREAT SOURCE OF PUS. THE FATTER YOU GET, THE MORE YOU PRODUCE, WE WANT YOUR ASS TO BE TOTALLY LOOSE. OUR MEMBERS ARE KILLED AND THEN FED TO YOU, WE EXTRACT YOUR PUS TO USE IN OUR COUP.

AREEMS COULDN'T CARE LESS, AS LONG HE FED, IT SADDENED HIM TO HEAR THAT HIS FRIENDS WERE DEAD. AREEMS GREW TO HIS CAGE AND THEN READIED HIS REAR, THE LOOK ON HIS FACE WAS ONE OF FEAR. THE DEVICE WAS TURNED ON, AND A WHIRRING BEGAN. THE PUS WAS EXTRACTED INTO A PAN. THIS WAS THEN EMPTIED INTO A BOTNET DEVICE -- A LINUX SERVER THAT ALREADY CRASHED TWICE.

THE MACHINE CAME ONLINE, AND ENTERED #GNAA, CAUSING A SMALL AMOUNT OF DISMAY. THE OPS SET A PASSWORD, AND THE CHANNEL WAS STILL. IT SEEMS THEIR DEVICE DID NOTHING TO KILL. FAILURE OCCURED, AND BANTOWN WAS SHIT, THEY WROTE ON THEIR BLOGS THAT THEIR WRISTS HAD BEEN SLIT. WHAT A PATHETIC EXISTENCE, AREEMS SAID AS HE CRIED, HE WAS TRAPPED IN HIS CAGE UNTIL HE DIED.

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LOL HY (1)

JismTroll (588456) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684387)

LOL HY DESSIMAT0R LOL HY LOL HEARTIEZ LOL HY HY HY2U LOL NORWAY LOL

#GNAA 4 LYFE

irc.gnaa.us
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Another BoingBoing story... (5, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684331)


Story lifted directly from BoingBoing. Even the quote from Wired was lifted directly from the BoingBoing story.

See the BoingBoing story here. [boingboing.net]

As for the 'razor blade' argument cited in TFA, the reason it works for razor blades is because they're cheap...too cheap for people to 'mod' their razors to be able to accept other, cheaper razor blades. This model simply doesn't apply in the world of printer cartridges and cell phones...since it's worth the expense. Lexmark increased the expense by implementing the 'handshake' between the cartridge and the printer, but circumventing that proved to be worth the expense as well. When Lexmark attempted to invoke DMCA they got slapped down, and rightly so.

The point is, if I own a product, be it cellphone, printer, or razor, it is mine. The courts ultimately ruled against Lexmark in this matter, and I expect (and hope) that they will rull against the cellphone companies as well.

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (4, Interesting)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684459)

I hope they do so as well, but it probably won't be the end of it. The cell phone company simply needs to change the contract to say that if you unlock your phone then you have to pay xxx dollars to the cell phone company. Should be legal, and if they make it prominent they might not even piss off their customers, who knows. Personally, if the company gives me the choice, I would rather pay for the phone up front and not sign a contract. Contracts mean the companies can concentrate on new sales and not existing customer support or quality of service (most of us change cell companies because we are dissatisfied with our existing company, not because the new company is better). As long as we have contracts, we lose in service and quality.

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (4, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684462)

The point is, if I own a product, be it cellphone, printer, or razor, it is mine.

Yes, but do you own your phone? A lot of people get their phone with their service contract rather than buying the phone itself.

I agree that if you buy a phone it should be your own property and you should be able to modify it as you wish, but I don't think the same holds true if you merely have your phone as part of a contract deal.

If you want the benefits of a contract phone - vastly reduced initial cost, free upgrades to newer phones, etc, then you should accept the downsides too, or actually buy a phone of your own.

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (4, Insightful)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684531)

Problem is, if you out and out buy your phone they still lock it. Which would be a good point to bring up in the suit because it would mean the lock doesn't have anything to do with the subsidy (it has everything to do with keeping you locked to the cell phone company).

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684901)

If you buy a phone from the vendor like I did with one of my old handsets, it comes unlocked. Nokia sold me a phone for around £200 and it came fully unlocked and wonderful.

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (3, Insightful)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685003)

You live in the UK, I live in the US. Makes a difference.

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (4, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685134)

I guess it does...in Poland, I bought my phone for nothing while signing contract. For 2 years (time of contract), I'm supposed not to mess with mine (yes, mine) phone or I'll loose warranty...however there DOES exist another network, very cheap, which I can use. Now the best part: after 2 years, I can go to my initiall operator, the one who sold me phone, and they'll unlock it almost for nothing.

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (1)

surprise_audit (575743) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685256)

Best Buy (for example) will sell you a phone without a calling plan. My daughter wanted one - the tag said "$69 with calling plan, $200 without" (the numbers are not accurate, but in the ballpark). Presumably you then just slap in any activated SIM card and start dialling. She didn't get the phone...

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (3, Informative)

TheDawgLives (546565) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685272)

Problem is, if you out and out buy your phone they still lock it.

Actually, if you out and out buy your phone directly from the manufacturer, they don't lock it. When you buy it from the cell phone company, even if you pay more to not be locked into a contract, they are still giving you a discount over what you would pay the manufacturer directly.

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (4, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684545)

I've bought phones from Sprint PCS, BellSouth/Cingular, AT&T, and T-Mobile, all on contacts, and I've NEVER seen anything that suggests that I do not own the phone. Not for any of those operators. Every single phone operator will tell you that they're SELLING YOU a phone. However, they'll generally refuse to sell you one at a discount if you don't also sign up to a contract plan.

If Cingular (most likely culprit in this case, as T-Mobile will unlock phones for free as long as a customer has been in good standing for three months) doesn't feel subsidized phone buyers should be allowed to do what they want with their own hardware (note, Cingular's network does not constitute subsidized phone buyer's "own hardware", before anyone criticises me for suggesting that Cingular allow people to modify their phones to do crappy things all over Cingular's frequencies, that's not what I'm suggesting at all) then perhaps they shouldn't sell the phones, perhaps they should rent them out, and have their customers sign lease agreements.

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (1)

Alpha_Traveller (685367) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685217)

This is exactly my argument regarding TiVo's lifetime service. In my opinion if I buy a lifetime service agreement it should be for access to the service for the lifetime of the service itself. As part of that service, TiVo agrees to upload new service software that will guarantee bug fixes and new features within the limits of the machine as purchased or the service. TiVo says the lifetime service only applies to the machine you've purchased and no farther. I don't "subscribe" to a machine. I subscribe to a service.

The machine and the software to run it is another matter.

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (2, Interesting)

Generic Guy (678542) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684466)

The point is, if I own a product, be it cellphone, printer, or razor, it is mine. The courts ultimately ruled against Lexmark in this matter

But the court upheld Lexmark in the toner suit (EULA issue), where Lexmark provides a discount to people who bought the "cheaper" box on condition of returning it back only to Lexmark for recycling. Due consideration, in the court's opinion, was the cheaper price.

Since the phones are subsidized by the service providers I can easily see a court siding with them, also due to the 'cheaper price' consideration. The court would see the cheaper price as due consideration.

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (1)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684739)

Since the phones are subsidized by the service providers

The are subsidized by requiring you to pay for a fixed number of months of usage. Its part of the rebate contract.
Modding the phone will not change this contract.

Considering that, why do you have to be locked in by the phone just because you're locked in by the contract? Its not like they can't enforce the contract without the phone.

This is not the same situation as Lexmark at all. In one, you're talking about buying something that was cheaper in light of the fact that you were going to give it back; in the other you're talking about something that was cheaper because you're buying something else at the same time.

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684491)

But if the contract says you get the phone free as long as you agree to use it only on our network I could see the courts agreeing to that. If you don't like that stipulation then buy your own phone. On the other hand, service providers should be required to offer the phone at a reasonable cost and user purchased phones should be movable from one service provider to the next.

Wasn't there a printer cartridge refill case similar to this just weeks ago? In exchange for special pricing the buyer agreed that the cartridge would not be refilled.

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (3, Interesting)

jcostantino (585892) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684615)

Cellular providers sell the subsidized phones with the expectation that they will recoup their losses during the term of the contract. Nothing wrong there. It's when they lock the phones AND slap you with a ~$200 fee for breaking the contract that it bothers me. The only phones, IMHO, that should be locked are PAYGO (pay as you go) and that's because they are somewhat discounted with no contract so they need to be on the network of whoever sold them.

By the way, and I'm not saying this to be mean or anything because I do enjoy reading your opinions here but... do you live here? I almost always see your comments as FP (or first +0 or better comment) or damn near it.

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (2, Interesting)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684663)

Agreed, my dad once broke his phone and didn't have the insurance plan so he went down and got a cheap no contract paygo from walmart that was the exact same phone as he had before. Turned around it and activated it. He never even used the minutes that came with the paygo.

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (-1, Flamebait)

Felis Catus (836373) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685188)

By the way, and I'm not saying this to be mean or anything because I do enjoy reading your opinions here but... do you live here? No, TMM does not have a job (lives with his parents) which is why he is able to spend so much time here. He is an attention whore and latent homosexual. He gets off by impressing other male geeks and has admitted he wants penis.

Sad thing is.. (1)

elfguygmail.com (910009) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684650)

The sad thing is I submitted this story yesterday morning before it was appearing on BoingBoing and it got rejected. Not only is this old news now but the submitted copied it from another source.

Re:Sad thing is.. (0, Offtopic)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684809)

You are a victim of the arbitrary methods used to accept or reject submissions on Slashdot. Acceptance of a submission is subjective to the editor who reviews your story. Unfortuately, the people who run Slashdot feel this is perfectly acceptable and don't plan to change it any time soon.

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13684741)

More importantly, Gillette have a shed-load of patents covering the razor blade itself and its attachment to the handle: so other manufacturers aren't able to manufacture cheap generic replacement blades that fit the Gillette handle.

Re:Another BoingBoing story... (1)

saitoh (589746) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685111)

>Story lifted directly from BoingBoing. Even the quote from Wired was lifted directly from the BoingBoing story.

And they didnt list it either (the cell company). This reminds me of rumors on the school-yard. "oh, someone said your not cool, but I'm not going to tell you who and I'll just make up a name and call them Person A". It doesnt accomplish anything other then stiring up stuff (e.g. webhits).

If someone filed a C-n-D, to me at least, whats the point of writing a story about it if your not going to put much if any substance in it. For all we know, this person could have made the entire thing up. We dont have any names, and no sources were cited. I'm not calling hoax, but to me this is less useful then reading the Onion (which at least makes me laugh).

Sounds good to me (3, Insightful)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684344)

What's the problem? If you want to pay less for a locked in phone thats your buisness. If you want to have freedom to go to any network you want you have to pay a premium. I don't necessarily see a problem with the buisness model...

Is this one of those things where it must be bad because it contains the worst of the slashdot four letter words (DMCA)?

Re:Sounds good to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13684429)

Is this one of those things where it must be bad because it contains the worst of the slashdot four letter words (DMCA)?

Uh, of course? :-)

Re:Sounds good to me (5, Interesting)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684437)

Um...here in the States, such a phone is more like the mythical Unicorn. We don't have the luxury of taking our phones with us when we switch providers. heck we've only had number portability for a couple years now!

And no one is suggesting that if I 'unlock' my phone to use Provider B at some point, that I stop paying Provider A as my contract requires.

If I have finished my service contract, why shouldn't I be able to use the phone on a different network if I so desire? Do the companies offer 'unlocking' services at the end of contract? (by which time they have been 'paid' for the 'cheap' phone)

So it's just another tactic to prevent free market forces by using the DMCA, yes it's a Bad Thing(TM). Hopefully with exposure and some intelligent court rulings this too shall pass.


Re:Sounds good to me (2, Interesting)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684759)

Personally, I have specifically asked a cell phone company (I'm not naming names) if I could use an old phone that I had (bought from them about two years earlier) with a new service plan without a contract. I had cancelled my previous plan months earlier with them because of certain circumstances. Even though they still sold the exact same phone with some of their plans, I was told that I had to buy a new phone and sign up under a contract. They would not let me use my existing phone. It was pretty obvious that they're much more interested in getting you locked into a contract vs. worrying about recouping the phone subsidy.

The subsidized cell phone is a win/win for the cell phone service provider and the manufacturer. The provider locks you into a contract (thereby avoiding competition based on quality of service) and the manufacturer need not worry about reducing costs. All subsidies eliminate competition in some fashion. It does not benefit you the consumer.

Re:Sounds good to me (3, Informative)

ThogScully (589935) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685194)

Um...here in the States, such a phone is more like the mythical Unicorn. We don't have the luxury of taking our phones with us when we switch providers. heck we've only had number portability for a couple years now!

I am in the States and I wouldn't consider a non-GSM phone. If you don't choose to use a better GSM provider using GSM phones, that's your own problem. I've been with Voicestream and now T-Mobile for years. I've taken my phone all over the world and used it on carriers in other countries with prepaid SIM cards when I've been away on longer trips. It's not locked and works on any GSM network in the world and can be serviced by any GSM provider's service.

-N

Re:Sounds good to me (3, Interesting)

nblender (741424) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684443)

Well, at least one problem I've encountered is with my vendor-neutral and non-discount SonyEricsson K750i. Now that the firmware is 'old', I want to upgrade it. The only way I can see to do that is via the official SE site with their software. It won't let me upgrade the firmware because it doesn't recognize the carrier that my phone is currently using. ie: it has no custom firmware matching my carrier.

So, unless I do a bunch of secret-squirrel digging/haxoring, I have a dead-end product.

Re:Sounds good to me (1)

photon317 (208409) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684454)


The problem is that you might purchase a locked phone initially, and there are companies out there which, for a small fee, will forcibly unlock your phone for you when you decide to switch carriers. (Or if you have the technical knowledge and means, you can do it yourself). They're arguing that unlocking a phone which was purchased as a locked phone is a violation of the DMCA.

Re:Sounds good to me (4, Interesting)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684461)

Is this one of those things where it must be bad because it contains the worst of the slashdot four letter words (DMCA)?

Actually, yes. I have yet to see a "good" occurrence of that four-letter word (acronym). At best, ironic or just-desserts, but never actually "good".



What's the problem? If you want to pay less for a locked in phone thats your buisness.

You miss the point - Yes, the phone comes cheap as part of signing a 2-year contract (usually), but after that?

This doesn't involve people trying to get out of their contracts. Just people trying to keep using their phone once they have satisfied whatever contractual obligations exist that might justify calling it "not theirs".

When every object we posess contains some amount of copyrighted material, will companies successfully argue that we don't actually "own" anything? "Sorry, that pointy stick contains DNA for which Monsanto owns the copyright. Using it to defend yourself against a non-Monsanto-approved bear violates the DMCA".

Re:Sounds good to me (0, Flamebait)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684894)

When every object we posess contains some amount of copyrighted material, will companies successfully argue that we don't actually "own" anything?

Yep. Yet another example of right wing activist courts advancing their socialist adgenda. Yes, socialist! Except it's corporate socialism: only corporations can own property in that system. The average person can't be trusted to use property in a responsible manner, so they're not allowed to own it. For the greater good of the economy they must be denied ownership.

So the next time Bush mentions the "ownership society," you know what he really means...

Re:Sounds good to me (2, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685023)

"When every object we posess contains some amount of copyrighted material, will companies successfully argue that we don't actually "own" anything? "

The solution I see would be to mandate that any copyrighted part of a non-copyrighted object be made removable. If I don't use the copyrighted part, then no problem, correct?

Oh yeah? Was: Re:Sounds good to me (1)

TA (14109) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684465)

There are several arguments: One (as mentioned in the original article) is when you're travelling elsewhere and your phone is either prohibitively expensive to use if roaming, or you can't use your provider at all. You would want a local SIM card then. A second, and in my opinion extremely valid reason, is when the phone company fails to unlock or provide you with the means to unlock your phone after the contractual period has expired. I had to use one of those services myself on one occation because of this (my parents were stuck without a working phone in a foreign country, I managed to talk them through the unlock procedure over a borrowed phone). And I also own one phone myself that is locked to one provider, five years after they were supposed to unlock it according to local telecommunication laws. Unfortunately the internet unlock companies don't have a procedure for this brand of phone.

Re:Oh yeah? Was: Re:Sounds good to me (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684731)

I haven't done much digging into the availability of unlocked phones, but if they are very hard or impossible to come by then yes I see the problem.

However, if you have the choice of either buying an expensive unlocked phone, or a cheap locked in phone if the service provider sells you a cheep phone they can lock it in forever for all I care. Thats the trade off of getting it cheap.

I'm sure my phone is locked in, and if I feel the need to switch carriers I'll just get another cheap phone from another company. Cell phone service providers offer cell phones as a loss leader, if I were in their buisness you better believe I'd do everything to keep that phone carrying only my signal. You paid for hardware that will operate on thier network, they are under no obligation to make the phone work on any network, even if the phone is capable of that.

So long as they don't mis-represent the handset, and it is feasable to purchase an unlocked phone if you so desire it seems like a good buisness practice to me.

Re:Sounds good to me (1)

Secrity (742221) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684467)

The biggest problem with your argument is that all of the major US carriers still lock the phone even if one pays full price for it.

I might buy your argument if the phone was only locked during the period of time that the buyer is obligated to the carrier by the carrier's purchase subsidy (such as by a two year contract). There is a grey area that may even moot the subsidised lock-in period, and that is the existance of a contract termination charge.

Re:Sounds good to me (1)

Itchy Rich (818896) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684505)

What's the problem? If you want to pay less for a locked in phone thats your buisness. If you want to have freedom to go to any network you want you have to pay a premium. I don't necessarily see a problem with the buisness model...

The problem is that, although these companies are welcome to adopt a business model where you pay a premium to use the handset after your contract expires, there's no valid reason for that business model to be protected by law. Handset unlocking is not a great injustice, it's simply making use of something that you have paid for through line rental and call charges by the end of your contract.

Re:Sounds good to me (1)

Professor S. Brown (780963) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685045)

What? Are you stupid or something? Of course theres a reason for that business model to be protected by law - you entered in to an agreement when you bought the phone that said you'd stick with them or pay a transfer fee. Don't like it? Go with someone else. Just don't whine about how unfair it all is later. Handset unlocking is an 'injustice', you are breaking your side of the contract that you made when you bought the fucking phone.

If you want to be able to roam free, get a contract that lets you do that. If that means your poor ass has to get a phone that doesn't have a built in PS3, well cry me a river.

Grow up, for fucks sake.

Re:Sounds good to me (2, Insightful)

JesseL (107722) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684515)

There are two problems with this.

The first is that they are trying to leverage a law intended to protect copyright for the purpose of supporting their business model which has nothing to do with copyright.

The second is that they are trying to prevent people from using the hardware that they have paid for in the way they see fit. I think it's fine if the terms of your contract with them say that you must use their service with the cell phone that they sold you for the period of the contract. The problems come when the contract runs out or you terminate the contract prematurely (and pay the associated fine), some providers are still trying to control what you do with the phone.

Re:Sounds good to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13684600)

The problem is that GSM phones are designed to work with multiple networks. That is why they have SIM cards.

I guess Americans never had the experience of swapping their cell phone's SIM cards to get onto a new network. In the rest of the world, people frequently do that. They have 2 or more SIM cards and one actual handset.

in short: (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13684353)

a company sues users that bypass a restriction

great news value!

always pay upfront (3, Insightful)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684368)

never get discounted phones, you get stuck in a contract, that costs more to break than the phone ,

always buy unlocked phones and use them with whichever n/w you like.

Can I get a +1 DUH !

Re:always pay upfront (1)

seanismdotcom (746929) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684507)

Well with Sprint the cost of the cancelation fee is no more then the discount you got on the phone. A lot of the time you will get additional savings on top of that as well.

So if you sign a contract and get the discounted phone and you end up staying you save $150+ some other discounts. If you cancel you only pay back the amount they took off the phone. So atleast you have the chance to save the money if you end up staying with the company. Not to mention with all cell phone providers if you don't want to sign a contract right away you most likely will end up signing one at one point or another because if you want to change anything on your plan it requires you to sign/renew your contract.

Whereis if you just pay full price for the phone to not have a contract if you end up staying you don't have the chance to save that $150.

iono just some reasoning I use while at work, Sprint, to convince people to get the 2 year contract.

I don't get it (3, Insightful)

forrestt (267374) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684570)

Why are the phone companies concerned w/ the phone being locked or not. If I bought a one cent phone, and had to sign up for a two year contract to get it, then I am stuck in a two year contract. If I mod the phone, I am still stuck in a two year contract. If I jump up and down on the phone, I am still stuck in a two year contract. If I play some skeet shooting w/ the phone as the pigeon, I am still stuck in a two year contract. If I sign up for service with another provider in another country w/ the same phone, how is this hurting the first company? In other words, they are still getting the money from me according to the contract, so why do they care?

I don't get it-Human Nature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13684680)

"Why are the phone companies concerned w/ the phone being locked or not. If I bought a one cent phone, and had to sign up for a two year contract to get it, then I am stuck in a two year contract. If I mod the phone, I am still stuck in a two year contract. If I jump up and down on the phone, I am still stuck in a two year contract. If I play some skeet shooting w/ the phone as the pigeon, I am still stuck in a two year contract. If I sign up for service with another provider in another country w/ the same phone, how is this hurting the first company? In other words, they are still getting the money from me according to the contract, so why do they care?"

Well considering how slashdotters treat contracts (implicit or otherwise). e.g. [1] one shouldn't have to ask "why"?

[1] Piracy, cable/satellite theft, abusing broadband TOS.

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13684685)

The way they want it to be is for you to have to buy another phone to use another carrier, but, if you keep your current phone and pay them, continuously, for the rest of your life, and then maybe more, you wouldn't have to buy another phone! Think of all the savings!

Re:always pay upfront (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684748)

agreed, i bought my nokia 9500 unlocked, cost 422 on ebay but well worth it, the contracts in some countries even cost more than that. I have no time for jumping through operator's hoops so they can suck the most money out of me. When I go to England I shove in a different sim card, when I go to holland I shove in a different one. The phone might be cheap, but if the network starts sucking, or you go abroad you will be sorry. of course the problem starts when phone manufacturers start teaming up with providers to offer exclusive phones that you cant buy unlocked.

Re:always pay upfront (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684787)

never get discounted phones, you get stuck in a contract, that costs more to break than the phone , always buy unlocked phones and use them with whichever n/w you like.
My phone's about 300 euros retail. I got it for free on a 1-year contract... The savings pretty much pay for a year's worth of subscription and calls, and my calls are cheaper than on a prepaid plan.

Better yet: recently I tried cleaning my phone in the washing machine by leaving it in my trouser pocket. That didn't work out too well. But since I had my suscription for a year (just), I simply renewed for a year and got a new phone out of the deal, free. If you already have a phone though, you're usually better off getting a 'SIM-only' subscription, which costs virtually nothing. Incidentally, over here phone companies will unlock your phone after the fixed term of the contract expires. I don't know if there is a law that says they have to, but they always will if you give them a call.

I'm screwed then (4, Interesting)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684402)

A mobile phone company is arguing that companies that unlock their handsets violate the DMCA

So I gues that makes thos of us who hack [nuclearelephant.com] mobile [nuclearelephant.com] phones [nuclearelephant.com] terrorists or something?

I would think that if you follow this logic, Verizon crippling their handsets so that customers can't access their own copyrighted works (pictures they've taken and messages they've received) without paying $0.25 is also a terrorist. I can live with that.

Re:I'm screwed then (1)

Comboman (895500) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684818)

Terrorists? I think you are confusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998) with the Patriot Act (2001). Yes they are both retarded laws rammed through congress with little thought to the consequences, but they are different retarded laws. One turns law-abiding citizens into pirates, the other turns them into terrorists.

fraud? (1)

wannasleep (668379) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684427)

Most of the times, locked phones are a fraud. Why? Nowhere it is written that you can only use them with a certain provider. You buy a phone, not a phone that will work with (put your provider name).
I dumped T-Mobile because they wouldn't unlock their phone (although they promised they would). And I bought an unlocked one. Screw them.

Re:fraud? (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684528)

Worse than that, where do you go to buy a phone outright without strings? Sure off the net maybe... I made the mistake of buying a phone from a RADIO SHACK which was locked to Rogers... I bought the phone for $300 [e.g. no service plan] then I put a friends sim in and boom no work. Cell phones are scam for that reason and also the concept of "airtime" which isn't required either.

This is how you get rid of airtime.

1. Give everyone total random access to the network
2. Prioritize callers based on the time they used that day.
3. Bounce calls off when slots are not available to give priority to those who haven't used the line as much.

That way no one set of users can lock others off, you can talk as much as you want [can] and when you've been using it more than others you get lower priority [obviously put things like 911 as a special case].

But of course nobody will ever do that because they can't fucking rape you seven ways from sunday if they're not using archaic billing models.

Tom

Re:fraud? (1)

AngelfMercy (694727) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684667)

This is how you get rid of airtime.

1. Give everyone total random access to the network

2. Prioritize callers based on the time they used that day.

3. Bounce calls off when slots are not available to give priority to those who haven't used the line as much.


That has to be the absolute dumbest idea I have ever heard. What about service reliability? How is a cellphone supposed to be viable for any business use if making a call is a crap shoot?

Re:fraud? (0, Flamebait)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685083)

You have an equal chance of booting someone off. So here's the thing, if you're a talking whore you can always get a landline.

The bandwidth is a finite resource. So why should I be left off because you're talking on the phone? Or put it in your terms. What if I got on the phone first. Why should YOU be left off because I simply must talk to the ever important client every waking moment of my life...

I mean I fly internationally doing business and I wait to get to the clients to talk with them. I don't see why others think themselves soo important that they can't wait 30 minutes to get to the hotel to check their email, they must call, and use a blackberry, etc...

Since we're already sharing the damn bandwidth why not share the cost too?

If you're in a NAT with [say] your neighbour. You both can't use 100% of the bandwidth at once, but you both pay 50% of the cost. So you have to either deal with always getting 50% or you have to share [e.g. tell your neighbour you need to download an ISO]. Why is that such a bad idea? For basically 99% of the time you get a speedy service [I shared my cable modem between 5 people and still managed 100% bandwidth most of the time] and you don't pay through the nose.

How is this any different than a co-operative cell network?

Tom

Re:fraud? (1)

thelonestranger (915343) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684711)

So if I've been using the phone a lot recently I get prioritized down so that when I need to make another call I get a message saying "sorry you've talked to much today, give someone else a chance." ? Im sorry but this just wouldn't work. The reason I have a mobile phone is for the convinience of being able to make a call whenever I want to. I dont want to be stuck in a broken down car and have my mobile tell me Im not allowed to make a call because I've already used my 10 minutes that day. I apologise if Im being dumb and misunderstanding your idea, but I just dont see it taking off.

Re:fraud? (0, Troll)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684986)

No, you don't automatically get kicked. You get kicked when other people want to use it.

THATS HOW IT WORKS NOW ANYWAYS.

There are finite number of slots. Ever get kicked off at busy airport? That's because when 1000 people all of a sudden try to call and there are only slots for 100 people you're not getting far.

With this idea you share the network [omg he said share, teh ghey!] with others. So that if you're a not stop talking drama queen bitch, you'll get silenced once in a while as others want to use it.

IN RETURN:

You pay 20$ a month for ANY TIME, ANY WHERE, ANY LENGTH calls.

Wow, that's hard.

Tom

Re:fraud? (1)

thelonestranger (915343) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685159)

Sorry, I still think its one of the dumbest ideas I've heard in a while. Take your chances with a free network that may stop you from makin a call at a crucial moment, ooorrrr,,,,,pay $20 a month for a connection that lets you make calls whenever you want. 1)How many people do you think would risk the free service and 2) How is people paying $20 for a connection any different from now?

Never had a problem with T-Mo (1)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685161)

T-Mobile UK seem happy to unlock phones once you are out of service, but when i signed up there they accidentally gave me an unlocked phone.

Likewise T-Mobile US seem happy to unlock your handset if you've been a customer for more than 6 months.

The biggest surprise i had is that you cant put a T-Mobile UK sim into a locked T-Mobile US phone... not allowing that seems ridiculous.

Locking Phones is Illegal... (4, Interesting)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684446)

... in many countries already. And soon (I hope) it may be in the US. We're working with a few congressmen who asked us to help with a bill [nuclearelephant.com] that's been drawn up.

Re:Locking Phones is Illegal... (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684712)

Since Congress is controlled by the Republicans at the moment, I would suggest you add some language to your arguments that locking cell phones goes against President Bush's idea of private property and an ownership society."

I disagree (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13684458)

The difference between cracking software and unlocking a cell phone is that the software inside the phone has an option for unlocking. The key is having the code and entering it. If the cell companies don't like it then they should require the manufacturers to remove that functionality from their products. The fact of the matter is that no company will want to do that since the same phone can be used on many networks with the same QA'd software. Now when I sign that contract with the cell company, they say that I will keep my contract for X amount of months. If I break it, then I pay for termination fee. Whether I choose to unlock the phone prior to or after that point is not the right of the company to dictate. I didn't license the phone from them nor did I lease it. I bought a physical appliance that is in my possession. Where I go from there after fulfilling the termination free requirements of my contract is my business. If the cell companies don't like it, then they need to stop subsidizing phones at low prices, lease phones that the consumer never truely owns, or come up with a pricing model and service quality level that will keep customers. Using the law to prevent me from doing something with a piece of equipment that I own is not their right once they have sold it to me.

-----

Bored? Enjoy the Laughs [audiworld.com]. (best forum on the 'net)

Which mobile phone company? (1)

Geekboy(Wizard) (87906) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684484)

Which mobile phone company did this? I'ma put on my walking shoes, and spend my money with a different company.

(Article doesn't say which company, but it can only be Cingular or T-Mobile. (Large, and unlocking implies GSM))

Re:Which mobile phone company? (2, Insightful)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684555)

Actually, unlocking can mean CDMA.

Sprint and Verizon's phones are locked, IIRC.

Sprint will not accept a pre-unlocked phone - it must have been locked to Sprint when it was new, AFAICT.

Verizon and Alltel will accept phones from any CDMA network, as long as they are unlocked, and (IIRC) Alltel will unlock a Verizon phone for you.

Re:Which mobile phone company? (3, Interesting)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684672)

Yeah, but it's not likely to be a IS95 operator. For the most part, the phones sold by IS95 operators in the US can only be used on US networks because few accept SIM cards, and most of the operators outside of the US that use "IS95" use a slightly better variant that does use them, as I understand it.

Most US operators know that they'd be no better or worse off if there was a culture of unlocking that still limited US phones to US customers. What they'd lose by someone switching to Verizon from Sprint after two years without forcing Verizon to pay out a phone subsidy, they'd gain in having an ex-Verizon customer do the same thing. Where it becomes problematic is where people are able to sign up for contracts (or just prepaid service, which is also subsidized, only to a lesser degree), and then skip out of the country, reselling the phone in a market where economic conditions are substantially different. If the subsidies are leaving the country, and are essentially unrecoverable, then you lose.

It's not impossible of course. This could be as simple as a company being bloody-minded. But right now I think it's substantially more likely that it's Cingular, or maybe - at a stretch - T-Mobile. Cingular doesn't usually unlock phones (and contrary to some reports, while they shipped some world phones unlocked, most of their phones including their world phones certainly are locked, I've read a number of "sob-stories" from people who bought Cingular RAZRs and planned to use them outside the country using prepaid GSM SIMs and found they couldn't), T-Mobile has a policy that it will after someone's been a customer in good standing for three months.

Re:Which mobile phone company? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13684617)

I would bet anything that the unnamed mobile phone company is Cingular. T-Mobile WILL unlock your phone after you have been a paying customer for 90 days. You have to call customer service and give them a song and dance routine on why you want it unlocked, but they will give you the codes. They did that for me. Cingular has been known for a long time for refusing to unlock their phones for any reasons.
I'm sure that CDMA phones can be unlocked too, but since CDMA coverage is basically a joke in most foreign countries, I agree that certainly this is about GSM phones.

Getting things confused (3, Informative)

scronline (829910) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684504)

Mobile phone companies means manufacturers. Why then, was mobile phone service providers talked about in the article? They actually lose money on the phones or make such a small amount they would prefer to just sign you up for the contract. It's the phone manufacturer that wants to be able to sell you the phone for a different service provider. I just felt I needed to say that. I really dislike disinformation...which is why I don't watch the news.

More confused (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684848)

The manufacturer really doesn't care if the phone is locked or not. They just want to move phones to the service providers (the majority of phones are sold directly from manufacturer to service provider). Manufacturers don't lock phones broadly, they lock it to each individual service provider. Therefore, it's the provider who asks the manufacturer for the lock to be implemented. That's why service providers were talked about in the article.

Re:More confused (1)

scronline (829910) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685079)

Well, then I guess I am confused....why in the HELL should the provider care? They already charge hefty early term fees and if their customer needs/wants to be able to use something else with the phone they are buying, I don't see the problem. For example, Nextel in my area is friggin horrible, specially for someone who works around alot of electronic equipment. I had to wait for my contract to end because otherwise I would have been stuck with a phone that couldn't even be unlocked...which I still was and sold on ebay. But to my thinking, if someone decided to pay the early term fees to get out of the contract due to poor service, that's nextel's problem.

The right to unlock has precedent (5, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684520)

Back when there was but one Bell telephone, there arose an issue with "Other than Bell" equipment on a Bell phone line. If I understand how the story goes, it went to the supreme court and they said "people have the right to use any phone they like and should not be locked into buying from a monopolistic vendor."

These locked phones are essentially the same thing where they are using this practice as a means to keep people from migrating from one service to another. It also serves to prevent any resale value for any equipment that someone may own which is also bad for the consumer.

This situation, if tested is court, will be an easy win for the consumer. I have no doubt on that.

Re:The right to unlock has precedent (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684648)

...and while we're on the subject, I have a Japanese (vodafone) Nokia 6630 phone that I'd really love to unlock. So far, one place I took it to said they couldn't and another shop I have yet to visit says that they can. Online searches so far say it can't be done...yet. Anyone have any info into this?

Re:The right to unlock has precedent (1)

enigma48 (143560) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684826)

I'm glad you're not my lawyer.

I've heard the same sort of story mentioned about the Bell of yesteryear but the situation today is entirely different. Customers aren't buying service from a government-sanctioned monopoly - they have several choices of major carriers and many more minor carriers to choose from. With each carrier they have several choices of phones, contracts (or not), options, etc. Even reactivating 4 year old phones is possible - worst case scenario, you have to activate with the original carrier.

Customers have been choosing the cheapest option because of a lack of understanding in the contract they've signed, laziness, sales pressure, etc, etc. But it comes down to this: customers have chosen not to care about locked/unlocked phones. If it's locked, fine, in two years they buy a new phone and repeat the cycle.

Think of it this way: if the majority of people were outraged that their phone was locked, wouldn't they do something? Yell at customer service, complain to the dealer, look into other options, talk to other friends, etc? (note: I didn't say they'd do something effective, just something)

A minority (like myself) have explored options and changed how we buy phones. The majority aren't angry enough to do this. People have choice (few 'need' to buy a cell phone) and they've decided with their wallets that the current system is good enough.

Still, I'm glad there is a minority of people who are challenging the system. I think companies should have a much more active role in making sure customers fully understand their choices and the consequences. Right now, too many care about the commissions so they push their $0 phones with 3-year contracts.

Before the "razor blade model"... (0, Troll)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684527)

Companies have been using the razor blade business model to guarantee a steady stream of revenue ever since, well, the razor blade.

People went: "Like OMG":

"Bullock carts sell cheap, it's always those flimsy bullock cart wheels that cost a fortune."
"Horses come cheap, it's the price of horsewhips that the horse companies are after."
"Rocks are a dime a dozen, it's the exorbitantly priced firewood that the wood companies fleece you with."

Now it's all like OMG "they're using teh razor blade model". Times are a changing.

Unlocked Phones Exist... (4, Insightful)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684536)

I use a Motorola phone I got through Cingular. They sell the Motorola "World Phones" all unlocked.

Sure, the phone company subsidizes your phone hardware by locking you into a certain term length of contract... So, if you unlock your phone and use it with another provider, YOU'RE STILL STUCK WITH THE TERMS OF THE CONTRACT. Therefore, what's the point of worrying about locking the customer out? A contract's a contract.

The REAL reason a lot of these cell companies worry about "unlocking" is the data transfer. I never paid for a single ringtone... I connect my data cable to my phone (or use my handheld with Bluetooth) and drop MP3s of my choice on the phone. I also "hacked" it (using a combination of the Programmer Service Tools and something called SIStorGSM) to remove the crap stock ringtones and images that I never used, thus freeing up more space for my own media. Great! Now, I'm a criminal?

This DRM stuff really pisses me off... I really do try to be a law-abiding person. I pay for my software, my movies, DVDs of TV series I love, even music CDs; all of which I COULD have pirated off the 'net... but the more DRM the Intellectual Property crowd puts in, the more they say to me "You're ALL guilty of being pirates" and the more I say "Well, if you're going to consider me guilty anyway, why do I care so much for trying to 'do the right thing'"

Re:Unlocked Phones Exist... (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684743)

YOU'RE STILL STUCK WITH THE TERMS OF THE CONTRACT

I can second that. I obtained a phone from an outside source, and while the phone was unlocked and could be connected to any carrier, I was still bound by contract to remain with my carrier for a year, with something like a $250 penalty, even though they didn't subsidize my phone whatsoever.

No man, THIS is the reason.... (2, Interesting)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684766)

Sure, the phone company subsidizes your phone hardware by locking you into a certain term length of contract... So, if you unlock your phone and use it with another provider, YOU'RE STILL STUCK WITH THE TERMS OF THE CONTRACT. Therefore, what's the point of worrying about locking the customer out? A contract's a contract.

1) Sign up for cell phone service with the provider you want to stick with.
2) For your free (or super-discounted) phone, get the most expensive one they have.
3) Unlock that phone.
4) Sell it on eBay as an unlocked phone for possibly more than retail price.
5) PROFIT!!
6) Buy the unlocked phone you really want from an online retailer.

See, instead of your provider giving you some phone you don't want, they gave you its value in $$ which you applied to a phone you really wanted. That's what I did with T-mobile, and it got me $140 off a $230 phone I wanted.

Hooray!

D.M.C.A. (3, Funny)

broothal (186066) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684550)

I'm getting so frustrated over all these DMCA issues that I have to get up and do something physical. So, now I sing the Y.M.C.A. song and dance the dance, but using the DMCA acronym and ending it with a big pelvis thrust.

After I started doing that, I stopped posting silly comments on slashdot... oh wait..

Won't hold up. (2, Insightful)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684577)

Won't hold up, same as the Lexmark case.

Further.. if it does hold up, this is just further evidence that the DMCA is very badly written.

Even if you are a very strong proponent of stricter copyrights, this is outside the intended scope of the DMCA.

The locking mechanism is there to prevent using competing SIM cards on the phone, not to protect access to a work under copyright.

Easy! (4, Interesting)

chrisbtoo (41029) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684580)

[U]nlock[ing ...] handsets violate the DMCA. [...] Those who travel internationally, want more choice.

So unlock them in a country that doesn't have the DMCA. No problem.

Not to mention (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684590)

how hard it is to load a Java game into a cellphone.

Even if you buy a game downloaded directly into the phone, you only have limited memory, so if you want to archive your game to your computer in order to make room for other games, it's also a pain in the ass to do.

My previous phone came with a few games installed, but my new phone came with this one game, and after a few minutes of playing, the game stopped and said "thanks for playing the demo, press here to buy and download the full version".

I flushed this useless POCware from my cellphone then and there.

Strange. (4, Informative)

thelonestranger (915343) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684597)

I've had two phones from Vodaphone and two from T-mobile, my girlfriend has had one from Vodaphone & 2 from O2. None of these phones was ever locked and we were free to put a SIM from another network into these phones at anytime. The only time I've seen locked phones on contracts is with Orange and Virgin. A good rule of thumb is that if the handset your buying/getting on contract has a network providers logo printed on it the its more than likely locked. This seems to be the case with all Pay As You Go phones and Orange contract phones.

A year late... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13684649)

But never too late!

I came up with [slashdot.org] this idea about 2 years ago. Looks like they followed suit...

(Still not logged in because slashdot still sucks)

No, it's NOT the "razor blade" model (4, Insightful)

JayBlalock (635935) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684687)

There's one important difference. The razor blade model works because there is absolutely nothing useful one can do with a razor blade HANDLE without the blades.

What these companies are doing is selling a VERY useful item at an incredible loss, and attempting to legislate the consumers' USE of the product. In a very real sense they are attempting to use social controls to *force* the public into doing business their way.

This is, to my mind, outright evil for fairly obvious reasons. But from a strict business sense, it's idiocy. Look at Microsoft and the X-box. They sell a repackaged PC with crackable hardware at (we think) a loss... so they use laws and threats and intimidation to stop people from using their purchased X-Box as they see fit.

That's not the razor blade model. I can't convert my razor blade handle into a hammer or screwdriver or something. But I CAN convert a mobile phone or an X-Box into something entirely useful that negates their business model. And all they can use are laws to force me to play the game their way. Laws that undermine the very definition of legal possession that is a requirement for a capitalist system to function.

For if we don't have the right to use products we purchase as we please, what worth are they?

Re:No, it's NOT the "razor blade" model (1)

jollygreengiantlikes (701640) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685150)

From the standpoint of an engineer for a company that uses similar practices (give away hardware in return for continued use of a consumable product) in a completely un-related field, the cellphone companies are just trying to stay on the most direct path.

There is no reason that they couldn't require you to sign a contract that would force you to pay the full cost of your phone if you decided to end your relationship with them. Why don't they? Because making it difficult for most people to unlock their phones is much more consumer friendly.

Think about it. I'm not saying everyone should agree with me (nor do I particularly like this practice), but this is how I see it.

JGG

No no, THAT'S fine. (2, Insightful)

JayBlalock (635935) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685283)

USE the contract! If someone signs a contract legally agreeing to not unlock the phone, or to pay the cost of the phone if they jump service, in knowledge of what they're doing... I have no problem with that. At all. That's just doing business.

(and if people won't agree to that prospect, then perhaps it's not a good deal and people acting in their own best interest are right to avoid it.)

What I have a problem with is Congress passing sweeping laws dictating things I, the consumer, CANNOT do with my own property... which then allows companies to prop up faulty business models with legal threats.

There is no - absolutely ZERO - reason that I should not be legally allowed to mod the X-Box I paid $200 for to run Linux, and never buy a MS-licensed game title in my life. Yet I am not. And therefore MS can sell these highly useful mini-computers at a loss (we think) and use legal threats to keep me from using my own property.

THAT is what I have a problem with. Laws that strip me of my rights as a consumer so that businesses can implement flawed plans which are backed up, not by good logic or economics, but by the FBI.

That way leads madness.

Either accept it is locked in or pay full price (3, Insightful)

mark2003 (632879) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684692)

Phone handsets (at least the latest on the market) cost hundreds of dollars. When you sign up for a contract or buy a pre-pay handset you generally get them for a fraction of that price as the network makes the money back on the calls.

If you allow customers to unlock their handsets then the neworks will put handset prices up sigificantly as they have to try to make a profit.

So complain all you like about your rights - either you get stuck with one network for a period of time or you pay a lot more for handsets up front.

Why are phones locked in the first place? (2, Informative)

kinglink (195330) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684786)

have any of you ever tried to buy a phone from motorola directly? You can't. They don't sell them like that. Personally I'd rather buy phones from the makers, instead of the insanely marked up phones they sell the contracts with.

Phone's cost, 50-100 dollars.
Mark up to make profit 10-20 dollars.
Mark Up by companies to make contracts appealing, 50-100 dollars.

It's a bullshit industry because every cellular company is out there to get you into contracts by offering new phones instead of keeping a good old phone. That's one of the reasons T-mobile appeals to me and others, because they offer short 1 year contracts. Hopefully that one company won't change.

Is "CellPhoneCo" the carrier or handset maker? (1)

jcostantino (585892) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684830)

The article is a little vague... if, say, Cingular is the company trying to put the DMCA on the unlocker, they don't have a leg to stand on. The carrier asks the manufacturer to subsidy-lock the phones to their SIM cards and that's all the say they have in locking. The manufacturer is the one who would prosecute because in certain circumstances, unlocking software comes from questionable sources.

I went around and around to get a phone repaired through Motorola. They sent me an ATTWS branded phone that wouldn't work with my ATTWS SIM card. First reaction I had was to call ATTWS, they told me they don't have the unlock codes and I need to call Motorola. Calling Motorola gave me the same runaround, THEY don't have the codes, ATTWS does! I finally spoke to someone in the Consumer Advocacy group in Moto and they gave me the unlock code in about 5 minutes. I'm sure ATTWS had the codes but that would kill their business model if they allowed someone to put another SIM card in!

PS: It was a quad-band "World" phone which meant I could use it anywhere in the "world" with ATTWS's SIM and international roaming rates. Not that I did but if I wanted to use it with a prepaid SIM in Europe, I couldn't - even if I was still paying ATTWS each month under contract.

T-Mobile (5, Informative)

tivoKlr (659818) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684849)

Interesting, the nameless operator is most likely NOT T-Mobile, as I have been a customer with them for several years, and they will unlock your phone FOR you for FREE, just by emailing them and asking them to do so.

There are some limitations, like you have to have been a customer for 90 days, in good standing, etc. but if you email them and ask them to send you the unlock code, they will do so in a couple of days.

They have unlocked several Nokias for me in the past.

Just my experience.

DMCA no, contract yes (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684855)

Using the DMCA like this is blatantly illegal especially after the appeals court ruling. It's also ammunition to use the next time Congress tries passing future laws: It's evidence that people will try to stretch the law beyond all reasonable bounds.

The proper way for phone companies to recoup their handset-discounts is either through contracts or preferably by offering such good service that nobody will want to switch.

Cell contracts (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 8 years ago | (#13684878)

How do cellular contracts compare with land-lines?

If you use a land-line phone, at least over here, you can only choose between having service from one company, or no service (for local calls and basics).

(At least up to recently, before VoIP started being available)

Since I switched to cellular-only and got rid of my landline, I've had excellent contracts which cost me on average equal or less per month than my old landline. And in general, each cellphone lasted the length of my contract before starting to deteriorate or when a newer more interesting model came out.

SP (service provider) Locks are a scam (1)

Xorkid (854002) | more than 8 years ago | (#13685155)

Why is it that the expensive "pre-pay" phones are locked? (UK/EU)

These locks are a way to
(A) enforce a contract clause- The contract is still valid without the SP Lock
and/or (B) Enforce a revenue stream from a customer, instead of using a competition based system- I can be in contract with/have more then one prepay provider but a SP lock forces me to stick to one.

Anyone who has ever worked in mobile telecomms will tell you, its all a huge racket. After a call is connected within a mobile network, its all profit, charged per minute. Its costs little to nothing to receive an incoming call on an exsisting network, with exsisting relationships with other providers. Who's ever provider initiated the call gets the cash so it pays (lots) to have people use your network.

but all this will (or should) be moot with VOIP
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