In light of my recent issues obtaining service on a particular operator who happens to be the sole UK provider for a certain new iHandset, Mike Adams got in touch to tell me that I should go to Belgium.
You see, it seems that the beurocrats over there (and, with it being the European Union HQ, there are oh so many of them!) decided that SIM locking and subsidised bundling of handsets with contracts weren’t really what was best for the consumer and made them illegal.
So, apparently, you can hop on the Eurostar and head over to Brussels, pick up a new unsubsidised, unlocked handset, have a spot of lunch and be back in blighty just in time for Eastenders.
It seems to me that, while this approach may be what’s best for the consumer (after all, who really agrees that an 18 month contract is a good thing?) it might not be what the consumer really wants or what is good for the industry.
The first Nokia N95 (not the 8GB one) for example retails at Â£279.95 even though it’s predecessor has been out for a while in the form of the N95 8GB and we’re about to see the N96 hit the market, I really don’t think all these normobs I see with the various N95’s would have been bothered enough to pay the full price. So if the normobs aren’t going to pay full price for a decent handset then they’d be stuck with ancient hardware and this would kill a lot of the innovation we’re seeing today (GPS & WiFi based location services for example).
I think the Netherlands might have the right idea, where I believe you can pick up a subsidised handset on a contract but the MNO must unlock a handset when requested, even if the contract has yet to finish.