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Quality of service and Customer lock in PDF Print E-mail

The following is a summary of a discussion on the I-Network mailing list, it focused on quality of service and customer lock in.

Hi I-netters,
i have a network locked internet Modem for Warid Telecom.
Am asking, is it possible to unlock it so that it can work on any of the 5 or upcoming Telecoms i choose to use. I find it better than buying a Modem for each telecom.
Please advice, where can i unlock it from?

Key contributions
Though i appreciate your motive to make a saving, at times this is our biggest developmental problem. The never ending pursuit for short cuts and ways to play the system. The operaters subsidise the cost of equipement to enable as many people as possible to access the services. If you want an unlocked device you can get them on Kampala Road, however you got a subsidised modem and now you want to go use it on another network.

How do we ever expect to develop beyond the hand to mouth concept. Next we will be attacking the networks for selling expensive Modems yet when they subsidise we again find away to abuse the opportunity they give us.


Its possible to unlock your modem but it will only work on MTN,Zain,Orange,UTL or Warid but not the new Networks coz i-telecom is CDMA and Smile is WIMAX.


Reasons why consumers may want their phones unlocked

1. You may find your network is not as competitively priced as another and you would then need to put a different SIM card into the phone after sometime. So if it is originally locked, Is that not violating consumer's rights? Forcing him/her to use your unaffordable rates.

2. If you are traveling overseas you may want to use your phone with a SIM card from that country to save yourself money.

3. You may be looking to sell your old handset, in which case the new buyer is staying in an area where the locked Sim network is inaccessible. Therefore, I am happy with those who can help the consumers to unlock their phones to save the cheat!

4. One does not have to move around with 3 different modems when travlelling to be able to get proper internet access.

5. You can choose to subscribe to whichever Network you prefer with the same modem.

Consumer experiences
Dear I-networker members
I gree with John on why networks should unlock their phones and modems. I have a modem which I bought from  MTN uganda in Febuary this year because Iam doing online course yet I work in a rural area where I can't access the internet cafe. However towards the end of June their services started getting off most of the time.I would report to MTN uganda and the only answer I could get was that they were going to rectify the problem but this took two months before they could work on the problem and I was only compensated with one month subscription. This made me miss some of the assignments for my course and at times I would incur expenses to travel to the nearby internet cafe which is 40 miles away.The recently one week ago, again there was a problem with their internet which lasted for close to 60hours and again when I reported, they told me that they were having a general problem with their internet. When I demanded for compasation for the three days the internet was off, I was told that they can't give it to me since it was a general problem.

After this incident, Iam planning to go to another ISP but my modem which I bought at shs.320,000 is locked but it is good through i-network I have known that there is some one who can unlock it. Will it be called criminal when Iam trying to avoid the inconveniences with my studies? To me the answer is a very big no. I have to unlock it so that if the MTN services can't be improved I can put a Warid SIM card and continue with my work insteady of being held hostage with their network that is unreliable.
Nice time members
- Ronald Kibonire

What a consumer should know and look out for
When a Telco sells you a network locked phone, there are terms and conditions for use applied to that purchase, which you as a customer have to abide with since the Telco is "subsidizing" the phone. Unlocking the phone violates those terms and conditions and the Telco has the right to prosecute you in the courts of law.

If you prefer to be able to switch networks then you have to purchase the same phone from a company/person that provides it to you without any terms and conditions of use.

Therefore network locked phones, are the property of the Telco and the consumer is meant to use them within the terms applied to them. Always read the fine print when you buy "cheap" network locked phones, they could land you in hot soup.

- Stephen S. Musoke

Suggestions and feedback

I can understand the telcos point of view in ensuring innovations like utl's kasana is network locked. Please correct me if I am wrong but lead time is probably the reason phone's are locked to the network. Why not flush the network restriction after a year? The competition in your markets (us :-)) means the handset will be unlocked at some point anyway. If I've missed the point entirely someone correct me.  - Gimei Nagimesi

It is important that the public is educated if the operator is to benefit even if the subsidies are done in the interest of the public, ... my challenge to the Telco's is to educate their clients and the general public on why they adopt certain models of business,this could be done through Corporate Social Responsibility programs,Consumers have a right to know "why", when this question is not answered then ignorance and shortcuts will prevail, someone once told me that he who knows how is always at the mercy of he who knows why, developement will only be achieved when the Consumer is empowered adequately and the Telco's play their role by educating them not just making profits
 - Barrack O. Otieno

it is a common misconception that unlocking your phone is illegal. In fact quite the opposite, it is your consumer right to have your handset unlocked. The networks have to provide you with an unlock code if you request it let us say after a given period of time.

Telecommunication companies should have design a conceptual contract to provide customers with locked phones and has a limit to a certain period where client poses the right to unlock the phone - John Kyakuwa Nsambu

The telco's here don't offer an I think ethical service that under certain circumstances you have the opportunity to unlock the phone by applying for it and if needed paying for it to the telco. - Gip Gipukan

However, any company can set up its conditions and terms as long as not it exploiting the consumers. Let companies set their conditions and terms and include time limit or in case of network failure the consumer can take it back and either get his money back or unlock it for at a fee. And the fee has to be publically known. Certainly, it would have been the telc company to have that unlock-money than taking it to a technician out side if they feel it is illigal. - John Kyakuwa Nsambu

A quick analysis of your postings shows that locking is not your problem, despite making it central to your postings but rather on the underlying quality of service of the provider to which you are locked. If I were you, I would complain about that and like one other poster mentioned, you would have had quality responses from the provider representatives already. - George Lule

The question here is not that the user no longer needs internet for example, the user indeed still needs the service, the provider just fails to meet his part so user looks for a chap to unlock device in order to get another source of the same service he wanted from the start. - Julius Kateega

Lastly, I ask the consumer protection associations to look into possibilities of "forcing" these providers into providing universally usuable systems. - Richard Mubiru


Contributions received with thanks from: Adieku Raphael; Badru Ntege; Barack Otieno; Brian Ssennoga; Douglas A. Musunga; Geoffrey Agoi; George Lule; Gimei Nagimesi; Gip Gipukan; Godfrey Ssali; Jackie Aritua; Johan Hellstrom; John Kyakuwa Nsambu; Julius Kateega; Lutaaya Robert; Mark Kyeyune; Mugume Collins; Paul Tentena; ROGERS KAREBI; Ronald Kibonire; Sacha Kassami; Stephen Musoke; Vincent Kisakye

Full discussion can be read here http://dgroups.org/ViewDiscussion.aspx?c=641a4329-fd6f-4f6f-a1de-9b208975fbbb&i=c65d1d6a-9bc3-46d5-9bdf-368cead704fc


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