THE DEPARTMENT of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is seeking to implement a policy requiring telecommunications companies to unlock mobile devices after a lock-in period.
Memorandum Order No. 004 signed by the DICT on Friday ordered the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to come up with a memorandum circular that would require a mandatory unlocking of mobile phones and devices for subscribers.
“The Department issues this Memorandum Order to govern the issuance by the NTC of the appropriate rules and regulations, i.e. a Memorandum Circular, in order to effect the Policy contained in this Order,” it said.
The order said telcos who have subscribers with devices acquired through a lock-in period should be allowed to shift to any service provider after it completes the terms of its subscription agreement, “to provide the user or subscriber greater freedom and flexibility.”
Reigning telcos Globe Telecom, Inc. and PLDT, Inc.’s wireless brands Smart Communications, Inc. both offer subscription agreements to its customers where mobile phones and devices may be acquired free of charge or through a subsidy in exchange of a lock-in period with the provider.
As of the third quarter of 2018, Globe has a total postpaid subscriber base of 2.5 million users, while PLDT has 1.4 million in Smart and 975,364 in Sun.
Prior to the DICT initiative, Senate Bill No. 1643 or the proposed Network Freedom Act has been filed in Senate by Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian. The bill also seeks to allow mobile subscribers greater freedom to switch networks any time.
While the bill initially wanted to prohibit the lock-in period entirely, Mr. Gatchalian said last month the policy may spare telcos a nine-month lock-in period for its subscribers before they may allow them to change networks.
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