House passes bill allowing unlocking of mobile phones prior and after lock-in period

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locked SIM House Bill 5790, or the proposed “Consumer Protection on Mobile Communication Service Contract,” prohibits the provision of a locked device after the conclusion of a mobile communication service contract. Rep. Francis Gerald A. Abaya (1st District, Cavite), vice chairman of the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology and principal author of the bill, said the practice by mobile phone and data service providers of locking devices as part of a wireless contract is one of the significant sources of consumer frustration with wireless services. “Although there exist independent devices or services from third parties that unlock the mobile device, this process would normally void the warranty of the mobile device. Device locking makes it difficult for consumers to take advantage of the competitive offers available in the market. Furthermore, it limits the ability of the consumers to avoid roaming charges while traveling abroad, because it prevents them from using another service provider’s service,” said Abaya. The bill provides that a mobile communication and data network service provider that provides a locked device to the consume as part of a subscription contract should unlock the communication device or give consumers the means to unlock the device upon request prior to the expiration of the lock-in period of the device. After the lock-in period, unlocking of the device shall be free and automatic, the bill provides. The measure further provides that for unsubsidized devices, the device shall be unlocked upon purchase. The bill imposes a fine of P5,000 to P500,000, upon the discretion of the court, on violators of the proposed law. Likewise, it provides for the suspension of the operation of erring dealers, retailers or sellers. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in coordination with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and other concerned agencies shall promulgate the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) 90 days after the effectivity of the proposed legislation. ]]>

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