When my son went to Oxford University for a summer program in 2006, he had his cellphone unlocked. This allowed him to slip another SIM card, the memory chip that stores mobile numbers, into his phone in England and avoid high roaming charges.
Rogers Wireless, our provider, refused to help. It has a policy of locking cellphones, which helps cover the discounted prices paid by customers up front. However, a Rogers store sent us to a nearby kiosk at the Eaton Centre with a big sign, “we unlock cellphones.”
I did a column recently about Douglas Santala, who didn’t understand Rogers’ policy and got into trouble when he took two cellphones with him and his daughter to Europe. He wants Rogers to put warnings on all packages and pamphlets, letting people know their phones are locked.
While I was away, there was some good news about Verizon Wireless moving to open up its network to a wider selection of cellphones. This is part of a more open approach in the United States, but details have not been announced yet and consumer groups were wary of sky-high prices. Still, Consumers Union said it was a step in the right direction.
Do you think unlocking is inevitable? What’s your experience with using cellphones when you travel? What about having to buy a new phone when you switch from one carrier to another? Here are some opinions from my readers.