A senate bill called “Network Freedom Act” submitted by Senator Win Gatchalian aims to ban telecommunications companies from locking mobile wireless devices to their network.

Commonly known as ‘non open line devices’, these include smartphones, portable Wi-Fi sticks and tablets that can only use a Smart, Sun Cellular or Globe sim card. “Such device locking makes it difficult for consumers to take advantage of competitive and better offers available in the market,” the senator said.


Huge Penalties for Network Locking

Telecommunications companies caught locking devices to their network whether sold as a unit or under a post-paid plan will be fined. It starts at ₱100,000.00 for the first offense to as much as one million Pesos and revocation of franchise to operate on third offense.

However, the bill is still pending in the Senate. When passed, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and National Telecommunications Commission along with other concerned agencies need to create the implementing rules and regulations.


No more subsidized devices?

There is one concern with this bill though. Telcos usually subsidize a smartphone’s price and sometimes offer it for free in exchange for a post-paid subscription. We might see increased cash out amounts for flagship devices in these plans.

Remember the MyPhone My28s? Smart offered it back in 2016 for merely ₱888 instead of its ₱1,999.00 original price. That was made possible because the phone’s SIM1 is locked to Smart.



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