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Friday, 05 October 2012 17:41

ACCAN calls for SIM-unlock fees to be banned

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ACCAN has called for the government to legislated against mobile operators charging fees to remove sim locks on prepaid phones. Meanwhile Optus has tightened its sim unlock rules.

ACCAN made the call in its submission to the government's international roaming charge enquiry, pointing out that it can cost as much as $150 to have the sim lock removed (for some Telstra handsets).

ACCAN's initiative co-incides with the launch by Woolworths of a SIM for low cost international roaming that has gone on sale in almost 900 outlets around the country: a move that is sure to significantly increase awareness and usage of this type of product

According to ACCAN's submission "Optus customers pay up to $120, Telstra customers pay up to $150, Virgin customers pay at least $80 and Vodafone customers can pay up to $100 to unlock a handset."

However there are significant differences between these fee structures. Virgin (an Optus subsidiary) charges no fee once the customer has paid $80 in recharges on their prepaid phone.

The Optus web site  features an unlock fee calculator which shows that it applied the same charging regime until 3 September (but $120 for recharges for iPhone or BlackBerry) and charged no fee if the phone had been in use for six months or more. For phones bought after 3 September there is a $80 fee in the first six months regardless of recharges and a fee of $25 thereafter

ACCAN suggested that "Australian and New Zealand governments could look at the attempts to legislate against network locking in Canada as a basis for local legislation."

A private members bill was introduced into the Canadian Parliament in 2011. Under the bill, phone companies would have had to unlock new phones upon request, without charge, at the end of their service contracts. However the bill did not pass.


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