Wireless subscribers set free

Wireless carriers will no longer be allowed to tie down subscribers with a SIM lock on phones they supply.

The Knesset Economics Affairs Committee today approved another reform - banning the use of SIM locks on mobile telephones. Mobile carriers will not be allowed to lock devices so that subscribers can only use the carriers' own networks. Mobile devices will be open, and customers can switch companies without having to pay to remove the SIM lock.

Abolishing the SIM lock on mobile devices is necessary in view of the Ministry of Communications' plan for new mobile carriers to enter the market. Mobile carriers, the main sellers of mobile devices, tend to lock the devices, forcing subscribers to pay to unlock them when switching to another network. The cost varies from company to company, costing NIS 50-70.

The problem in Israel goes deeper, because there is no alternative, efficient market for mobile devices, and most devices are sold by the mobile carriers. This is not the situation in most countries, where there are independent networks that sell end equipment.

The Economics Committee also approved network neutrality for mobile Internet, including prices and technology (on mobile devices). The decision bans mobile carriers from restricting the use of certain Internet applications or protocols.

Minister of Communications Moshe Kahlon said today, "From now on, a customer can take a device purchased from one network with him when moving to another network, without the former company having to permit use of the device by the new company. The financial significance for the citizen is a further reduction in transfer barriers and a savings of tens of shekels."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 6, 2010

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

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