NTC issues rules on unlocking of mobile phones after lock-in period

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has released the guidelines that mandate the unlocking of mobile phones by subscribers after the expiration of their lock-in period with mobile network operators.

This allows mobile phone subscribers to switch from one wireless service provider to another.

“Mobile phone and device users, after having complied with the terms and conditions of the subscription agreement within the agreed lock-in period and are the absolute owners of the mobile phones or devices, should have the option of changing between compatible wireless service providers, giving the consumer greater freedom and flexibility while increasing incentives for service providers to improve and innovate,” the NTC said in Memorandum Circular 01-05-2019 dated May 31.

Public telecommunications entities (PTEs) or telcos must now post on their websites their policy on mobile phone or device unlocking, the rules said.

For postpaid subscribers, telcos, upon request, should unlock mobile phones or provide the necessary information on unlocking to mobile device users after the completion of their prepaid service contracts, device financing plan, or payment of early termination fees.

Notice to prepaid customers may occur at the point of sale, at the time of eligibility, or through a clear and concise statement of the policy on the telco’s website.

The circular also mandates telcos to unlock eligible devices or initiate a request to the equipment manufacturer within two business days after receiving a request.

They should provide an explanation of why the device does not qualify for unlocking, or why it needs additional time to process the request.

“PTEs that fail to comply with any of the obligations shall be a cause for the imposition of applicable penalties provided in subsisting laws, rules and regulations,” the memorandum read.

Mobile network operators assured their subscribers that they will comply with the policy on the mandatory unlocking of mobile phones.

“We will comply with the policy. If you look at the policy, consumers have the choice to switch their mobile network providers. We will provide them that option if they so request to unlock their phones,” Yoly Crisanto, Globe senior vice president for corporate communications, said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Meanwhile, PLDT-Smart public affairs head Ramon Isberto said the company will provide assistance to subscribers if they ask to unlock their phones at the end of their subscription period.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology issued a memorandum last December ordeting the NTC to craft guidelines on the mandatory unlocking of mobile phones. — Aerol John Pateña (PNA)

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