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Sunday, October 25th, 2009

The Gadget Blog

T-Mobile CEO Not Pleased With Unlocked Phones

September 11, 2008 by Rico Mossesgeld  
Filed under Cellphones, Services

we-are-not-amused.gifFirst, T-Mobile CEO Robert Dotson discloses that over 30% of T-Mobile phones in NY are unlocked. Strangely, he also declares that this isn’t a good thing:

“If you look at just unfettered access in an open world, all of us would probably agree you have a pretty poor experience at the end of the day,” he said. “you realize that [technology] is most productive when it happens in an environment that has some stewardship and control in it.”

Whut? Isn’t that basically saying you don’t approve of what a large number of your customers are doing? It’s so easy to dismiss this statement as a knee-jerk reaction to profit-hostile open usage, but this could also be a troubling sign.

This may be an exaggeration—or a quote taken way out of context—but if you have a CEO openly admitting he doesn’t approve of unlocked phones, is that representative of the entire service provider industry in the US? Dotson may really believe that cellular usage free from lock-ins may lead to a worse customer experience—for reasons that are not immediately clear.

Worse, could this be some crazy talk generated by the apparent high-profile success of the iPhone? We all know how hard AT&T and Apple work to keep the phone locked onto one network. It seems that the “we are not amused” outlook towards contract-free setups is expanding beyond the iPhone.

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2 Responses to “T-Mobile CEO Not Pleased With Unlocked Phones”
  1. Morris says:

    First of all I do cell phone technical support and one of my 3 most common issues is unlocked phones. I say this so that you know i’m not just taking to talk. I know what I’m talking about.

    “cellular usage free from lock-ins may lead to a worse customer experience—for reasons that are not immediately clear.” If you’ve never had a cell phone that is unlocked then yes, I will let the “not immediately clear” part stand. So let me set the record strait.

    Unlocked phones that are used off of there original network causes nothing but heart acke for people who don’t know what they are getting into. And trust me, most people have unreasonable exspectatoins.
    1) Unlocked phone has to support the same frequency as the company you want to use it with. As the FCC controls the frequencies very few companies overlap, but luckily most manufactures produce multi-band phones.
    2) Once you put the “foreign” sim card into the phone calls will work 99% of the time. Text message settings are attached to the sim card in most phones so i’ll give that a %80 of working right off the bat. But everything else will require setting to be changed.
    3) “everything else” is actually not very much. Phones will let you change the internet settings and picture message (MMS) settings. If you are VERY lucky you’ll have a good data device that you can change the email on (you would normally manually have to program the email into these anyway). But any built in IM or Email will never work. There’s just not access to the embedded IM/email settings.
    4) Any kind of syncranizatoin of information between the phone and the company (other then to count your minutes of course) will never work. And any network specific features will not be available to you. Taking t-mobile as the example because its their CEO in the article, MyFavs can’t be installed on the phone, thats unlimited minutes that will never be yours.
    4) Only about half of the phones out there are able to have their settings changed with an OTA (over the air update, you get a message and put in the pin number and its installed). About a 3rd of those phone, once you get the settings you still have to find in the menu how to activate the settings. And sence the company thats trying to program your phone doesn’t sell it, your very lucky if they have any information about the menu to help you find it. (Good luck calling the company you took the phone from to get there help).
    5) The other half of the phones that can’t do OTAs require to be manually configured. My recored for a fast customer imputing the internet OR mms settings (not both, oh believe me not both) in a phone is 14 minutes. The average is 35 minutes. If there is a language barrier it can easily take 60 to 70 minutes. If something goes wrong, well it’s not pretty and normally involved a few transfers of you call.
    6) Theres always the possibility that even though all the settings are correct that the phone will simply not work.

    And that the first three days of owning the phone. Now look out a few months when the phone stops working. You’re cell phone company has no idea how to help you with your phone. The simplest issues get blown out of wack because your company simply doesn’t have the instructions to tell you how to the simplest things. And heaven for bid if you need a warranty replacement. Most cell phones companies handle it themselves for their phones, but the unlocked phone has to go to the manufacture. If your lucky they might honor the warranty of you got it from them directly. But that e-bay phone, most likely not.

    And looking to the future, video phones, 3g, 4g, its all going to be so specialized that your going to pay for a phone that does things you’ll never be able to use.

    With that being said… I really do think that phone being able to be unlocked, or the ability to purchase an unlocked phone is great. It can provide customers with exactly what they want. Or in some cases; like if they have disabilities, exactly what customers need. So long as they are educated about what to expect.

    I would also like to note that out of all the phones that T-mobile sells, there are very few (Sidekick, G1, and some SUPPER cheap prepaid phones – Every company has their prize phones that they won’t let go of. ) that t-mobile will not help a customer unlock if they ask. There’s no fee, customers just have to wait for the email with the instructions in it.

    So Robert said exactly what he meant. Customers have a better experience with there phones and other technology when careful and responsible management [definition of stewardship BTW] is used to ensure that experience. Based on what I have seen customers go though with an unlocked phone, I would have to agree.

  2. Farooq says:

    I have had the most horrible experience with T-Mobile. Stay away from that provide – problems with Curve 8320. It is a defective product.

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