NTC orders telcos to allow mobile phone unlocking
MANILA, Philippines — Mobile phone users can now enjoy more freedom to switch providers as telecommunication firms are required to allow customers to unlock mobile phones.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has released rules and regulations on the mandatory unlocking of mobile phones and devices after their “lock-in” period.
“Now consumers will have greater freedom and flexibility to change between compatible telco service providers,” NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said in a statement.
Under Memorandum Circular 01-05-2019, which was signed on May 31, public telecommunication entities (PTEs) are required to post on their websites “clear, concise, and readily accessible” policy on the unlocking of mobile phones and devices.
The PTEs, upon request, shall unlock mobile phones or devices, or provide the needed information to unlock the devices after the fulfillment of the applicable postpaid service contract, device financing plan, or payment of an applicable termination fee.
The unlocking of a device must be conducted within two business days upon request. The PTE can also initiate a request to the equipment manufacturer for the unlocking of the device, the circular stated.
Under the guidelines, PTEs that lock devices must notify their customers that their devices are eligible for unlocking or they must automatically unlock the eligible devices remotely without additional fee.
“Notice to prepaid customers may occur at point of sale, at the time of eligibility, or through a clear concise statement of the policy on the PTE’s website,” the circular read.
The circular also requires PTEs to provide an explanation of why a device is not qualified for unlocking, or why it needs additional time to process a request.
Should a PTE fails to comply with the guidelines, the NTC can impose penalties provided in subsisting laws, rules, and regulations, the circular stated.
The mandatory unlocking covers prepaid and postpaid mobile phones or devices from PTEs such as Smart and Globe, among others.
“The mandatory unlocking covers prepaid and postpaid mobile phones or devices from public telecommunications entities (telcos) in the Philippines such as Smart and Globe, among others,” Cabarios said.
The rules will take effect 15 days after publication. It was published on Monday, June 3. (Editor: Mike U. Frialde)
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