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June 05, 2006

The Disadvantage of an Unlocked Phone

by Darla

The benefits of being with a GSM provider is that you can switch phones indefinately.  Even moreso if the phone is unlocked.  Unlocked meaning that it has not been customized or locked to the providers specifications both firmware and hardware.  Many people choose this option especially here in the states because we don't want to be forced to use something that we don't like.  We will actually pay more money to have a device that we are gonna use.  I don't know when the service providers are gonna pick up on this, but it isn't fair to consumers to restrict certain levels of their serivce because we choose not to get the devices that they offer.   

In my GSM experience I've never encountered any issues that led me to believe that this was any sort of major issue.  Yes we are told in the very beginning that support will not be offered for the device that we have, but Cingular takes it just a step further but inputting security settings in some of the programs that they offer. 

MobiTV for example.  I decided to check out MobiTV and followed the instructions for downloading the app to my unbranded 6682.  Now although Cingular offers the Nokia 6682 they want you to purchase and use their device.   Using Cingular's MEdia Net I signed up for my 3 day trial and subscription with no problem, but during installation I received a "security" message and installation was cancelled.  I went over to MobiTV's website and filled in a support ticket and in about 20 minutes I received a call from tech support (now thats what I call fast).  Here is where I learned that Cingular has put some sort of security on 3rd party applications that they are in partnership with.  There is no way around this and the only option is to actually own a Cingular device.  Talk about restrictions.  What sense does this make.  Furthermore, the reason that Cingular does it is so that consumers can't use the application on an unlocked phone with another carrier.  Ok that much makes sense, but isn't everything tied into the subscribers phone number?

If I or anyone else chooses to use a device that is unlocked or unbranded for a provider than why is it necessary to have to be forced to use theirs even if its the same one?  To me that makes no sense.  Its also a bit confusing.  Since Nokia will be opening its flagship stores soon and its stated that phones will be sold to consumers unlocked, where does that lead Cingular customers?  Are the manufacturers even aware of this problem?  I know the software manufacturers are but its not their call.

My main service is with T-Mobile, and although they currently have no S60 devices in their line-up I haven't had any restricion issues.  Since I got rid of my landline I decided to go with Cingular in order to have a local number.  It's taken me only 4 days to realize that I made a big mistake.

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Comments

Sakke

I can't understand why chose Cingular because you wanted to have a local number? Tmobile should just as well allow importing your landline number. Or doesn't it really have local numbers in your area?!

Your findings on Cingular drops it even lower in my category. In Google's terms I think they're truly evil.
- They lock you in for 2 years (Tmobile for only 1).
- They *newer* give you the unlock code to your phone! (Tmobile gives it after 3 *months* of payed service!!)
- Their international calling is dirt expensive (to Europe over $1/min last time I checked - with Tmobile some $0.3/min!)
- and now the security issues...

On the other hand Tmobile sucks badly because it doesn't have Nokia (S60) devices. (Ok, the Nokia marketing/sales/whatever has done a terrible job here, too.) Catch-22 in any case for GSM users in the US.

This whole strong bundling issue has just so strong "communistic/soviet" "no-options" tone to me. At *least* it doesn't enhance competition.

MO

Your post is very uninformed. Following are some corrections.

>I can't understand why chose Cingular because you wanted to have a local >number? Tmobile should just as well allow importing your landline number. Or >doesn't it really have local numbers in your area?!

The carrier still has the option to allow ports from a given area due to that carrier's network coverage. Most will not activate or port numbers from an area where they offer no coverage with their own network.

>Your findings on Cingular drops it even lower in my category. In Google's >terms I think they're truly evil.
>- They lock you in for 2 years (Tmobile for only 1).
>- They *newer* give you the unlock code to your phone! (Tmobile gives it after >3 *months* of payed service!!)

You are incorrect in saying Cingular will never provide unlock codes. Cingular does have a policy for providing unlock codes. As for 1yr vs. 2yr contracts; Cingular has a 1yr agreement option but you pay more for the phone. Phone pricing and contract terms probably have a major role in why T-Mobile has had much smaller expansion plans over the past few years.

>- Their international calling is dirt expensive (to Europe over $1/min last >time I checked - with Tmobile some $0.3/min!)

T-Mobile and Cingular both have international roaming rates around $0.99 / minute in western europe. International Long Distance rates for Cingular can be as low as $0.06 / minute to the United Kingdom with a monthly $3.99 Worldconnect package. Most western European countries are pretty close to this ($0.07 - $0.17 / minute rates)

>- and now the security issues...

>On the other hand Tmobile sucks badly because it doesn't have Nokia (S60) >devices. (Ok, the Nokia marketing/sales/whatever has done a terrible job here, >too.) Catch-22 in any case for GSM users in the US.

>This whole strong bundling issue has just so strong "communistic/soviet" "no->options" tone to me. At *least* it doesn't enhance competition.

Not even going to go there...

Sakke

> The carrier still has the option to allow ports from a given area due to that carrier's network coverage. Most will not activate or port numbers from an area where they offer no coverage with their own network.

Well. I presumed Darla is living in an urban area where both carriers have coverage. As she mentioned that she's been using Tmobile.

> You are incorrect in saying Cingular will never provide unlock codes. Cingular does have a policy for providing unlock codes.

They've changed it. All my information is based on discussion with Cingular phone support about a year ago when I seriously considered changing away from Tmobile because of the lack of S60 devices. Cingular customer support said then that they don't provide the codes.

> As for 1yr vs. 2yr contracts; Cingular has a 1yr agreement option

Same thing.

> T-Mobile and Cingular both have international roaming rates around $0.99 / minute in western europe.

> International Long Distance rates for Cingular can be as low as $0.06 ...

That's for calling landlines, I'm sure as the termination cost to carriers themselves is somewhere between 13-18 cents/min.

In anycase. If all this is true it sounds like they've really worked on their plans / agreements.

Thanks for the comment! Will give them another chance.

But Darla's "security" issue is still "evil". :)

Alexander Manuel

"If I or anyone else chooses to use a device that is unlocked or unbranded for a provider than why is it necessary to have to be forced to use theirs even if its the same one? To me that makes no sense."

It could be that the carrier wants a higher degree of control for not only the handset- but the version of firmware running on the handset going on their system. Your 6682 might be a squeaky clean device with the latest & greatest firmware, but it could also be some Nokia engineer's leftovers with bootleg software that could damage their network. If I were Cingular...why take a chance? The overall risk to my network is potentially greater than the benefit of a tiny, tiny percentage of businesss. Also, think of the additional costs to Cingular in customer service calls resulting from the lock-ups that would result from the MobiTV in your 6682 because you are using Ver. 3.3.1 instead of Ver 3.4.3 that was optimized by Nokia especially for Cingular. Imagine the time it would take their support technicians to even figure out that you are running the wrong version? Even worse...suppose you decide not to spend 2-hours on the phone with Cingular's tech support and simply decide the MobiTV service stinks? The next post on DarlaMack's blog would be "Cingular's MobiTV Service Not Ready for PrimeTime" and now Cingular has a major PR issue to contend with since a popular blogger has given a negative review of their latest offering.

I simply see too many downsides for Cingular here...perhaps my example has taken it to the extreme but you get the idea.

Alexander Manuel

p.s.

Josh Smiley

Cool blog. Just wondering where you got your mobitv files from. I can't find them for my E61 and I am on tmobile

kam

interesting post people should just view this as your experience/opinion and not attack you for it. I didn't find anything confusing about what you wrote its straight forward and to the point.

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