Since the day that I’ve purchased my first cell phone, I’ve never questioned the providers. I purchased a Nokia 5190 and a SIM card from Fido. I assumed that all was fine and dandy until I switched over to Rogers. I didn’t know that I had to buy a new phone and I didn’t want to since my old phone was working just fine.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a policy in place that restricts a phone to a specific provider. I think that North America is the only place that has that restriction. Let me rephrase that. I think that only cell phones in North America have that restriction. In Europe and Asia, you’re free to use any cell phone with any provider. All you have to do is purchase a SIM card for that provider and you’re free to use any phone you’d like.
North America appears to be about two years behind the rest of the world when it comes to cellular technology. When I was in Hong Kong, there was a variety of cell phones that you could choose from and none of them were locked to a specific provider. Here in Canada, if you walk into a Fido store, you only get Fido cell phones. If you walk into a Telus store, you can only find Telus phones. Even if both stores have the same phone, those phones are restricted to that specific carrier.
When I landed in Hong Kong, I was surprised to get a welcome text message from PCCW, a major carrier in the country. They sent me a message welcoming me to Hong Kong and informing me how to use their system. I thought that was a nice gesture. And when I left Hong Kong and entered Macau, I received another message. But when I got back into Canada, I didn’t get anything from my carrier. Boo to Rogers Wireless for not welcoming me back to Canada.
I don’t know why there are carrier locks in place when it comes to purchasing a cell phone in North America. The phones can easily be unlocked so there shouldn’t be a restriction in the first place. I think the reason for the restriction is that the companies want to monopolize the market. In Canada, Bell already has a monopoly because of their history. Every call you make in Canada is probably going through their lines.
When the Apple iPhone came out, it was only available with AT&T but it didn’t take long for people to unlock it so it can be used with other carriers. Going with AT&T was a bad move on Apple’s part because if they had made the iPhone available to other carriers, they would have gained a larger market. But then again, people around here are willing to pay more for the latest gadgets.
Cell phones are the only things that have provider restrictions. If you buy a phone for your land line, you can buy any phone and it will work anywhere there’s a phone jack. If you buy a TV, it’ll work anywhere there’s a television signal. You’re not limited to one carrier when it comes to devices like these and the same should go with cell phones. Cell phone would be more inviting if it came unlocked to a carrier. My cell phone is pretty much my house phone. It’s getting to that time where everyone has a cell phone so why not open the market up.