Chile requires all cell phones to be unlocked as of this week

By on January 5, 2012, 7:30 AM

The Republic of Chile has joined a handful of nations in forcing cell phone companies to sell unlocked devices. As of this past Monday, January 2, the sale of carrier-locked handsets is forbidden, according to a Twitter announcement by Chile's telecom regulator, Subtel. What's more, devices purchased before the mandate will be unlocked.

Folks with restricted handsets can follow instructions posted at Wayerless. The process is simple: visit a certain page on your carrier's site (Movistar, Claro or Entel), submit a form with basic information and you'll receive an unlock code. If that doesn't work, you'll probably have to get in touch with your service provider's customer support.

The decision comes as Chile attempts to make cell phones more portable in the country. That initiative will continue on January 16 with the introduction of mandatory number portability. Singapore has long required carriers to provide unlocked devices and Israel passed a similar law in late 2010.

Although you can buy unlocked devices in the US and EU, the option isn't available for every model. Carriers tend to wait until after your contract expires before "legitimately" unlocking your device, forcing users to seek third-party workarounds. That's entirely legal but frowned upon by major providers.

In many ways, Chile has proven to be among the most technologically progressive nations in the world. In 2010, it became the first country to legally enforce net neutrality, forbidding ISPs from interfering with, discriminating against or in any way hindering access to content, applications or services.




User Comments: 11

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Guest said:

A good move IMO, though prices for pay as you go packages may simply go up as a result. That would certainly be the case if they tried that here in the UK.

caravel

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Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Definitely a good move in my book, I'm with Orange in the UK and they'll unlock your phone after 3 months for a fee of £20. Maybe the UK should employ a similar rule except make it mandatory to be free of charge after 3 months of being locked?

I'm sure if more country's followed suite then prices for phones would go up at first but eventually even out and become cheaper, plus way more competition for mobile providers to provide better reception and faster networks as it would be very easy to simply switch to another provider.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Also, we now own the number if we either buy a prepaid phone or get a plan, we don't like the company we go to the other with the same number, instead of being stuck in a company we didn't like just to keep the same number =)

PD: Chilean here

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Kibaruk said:

Also, we now own the number if we either buy a prepayd phone or get a plan, we don't like the company we go to the other with the same number, instead of being stuck in a company we didn't like just to keep the same number =)

PD: Chilean here

How does that work? I know it is some kind of code here in the UK you have to get out of your provider to get your number transferred to another provider, is it a similar system but you get given the code when you purchase the number?

Staff
Jos Jos said:

Definitely a good move in my book, I'm with Orange in the UK and they'll unlock your phone after 3 months for a fee of £20.

They do the same in France except you don't need to pay a fee (at least in my experience with SFR). They will also let you switch to a cheaper plan after this period.

@Kibaruk - Have smartphone prices gone up as a result of this new law requiring all handsets to be sold unlocked? I suppose they shouldn't since you would still have the same subsidies and would be required to pay early termination fees if you want to move to another carrier before your current contract is up.

Guest said:

Good move Chile, now I hope other Countries follow suite.

blimp01 said:

What exactly do you get when you unlock a phone?

Guest said:

You are able to use your unlocked phone ANY mobile carrier.That has the compatible network for that phone.I assume once LTE 4g is more readily available that will help. Since most carriers are going that direction.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Nope, the prices are the same but they do have termination fees when you get a phone with a plan in order to pay the remaining price of the phone in case you finish the contract sooner than expected.

gamoniac said:

Kibaruk said:

Also, we now own the number if we either buy a prepaid phone or get a plan, we don't like the company we go to the other with the same number, instead of being stuck in a company we didn't like just to keep the same number =)

PD: Chilean here

In the US, subscriber can carry the same phone number to any carrier since a few years ago, but all phones are still locked. I hope this will change soon, although TMobile did unlock my old Galaxy S for free when I travelled broad. I am not sure if they would do that for all their phones though.

Guest said:

"In 2010, it became the first country to legally enforce net neutrality, forbidding ISPs from interfering with, discriminating against or in any way hindering access to content, applications or services."

Well ****ing A. At least one country in this world knows how to properly handle the internet.

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