Telus says it will offer service to unlock mobile phones

Telus (TSX:T) will begin offering a service to unlock mobile phones that use SIM cards, a trend in the wireless industry that allows consumers to use the devices on other carriers’ networks.

Telus (TSX:T) will begin offering a service to unlock mobile phones that use SIM cards, a trend in the wireless industry that allows consumers to use the devices on other carriers’ networks.

The telecom company said Monday that starting on Feb. 15 its customers will be able to pay $50 to have their mobile phones unlocked.

“We know that people want the flexibility to use their phones as they see fit,” said Brent Johnston, vice-president of mobility solutions at Telus.

That means customers on long-term contracts, usually smartphone users, will be able to get their phones unlocked if they’ve had the device for a minimum of 90 days. Consumers could then buy SIM cards for other networks.

Typically, customers have to wait until the end of their contracts to get a phone unlocked or go to a third-party retailer that provides the service.

Johnston said there could be some potential revenue loss for Telus, but added the Vancouver-based company believes its rates and packages are competitive enough to withstand such a risk.

“So we don’t feel that insecure that people are going to run off to Rogers or Bell because of their network or their rates,” he said.

The service applies mostly to smartphone users, Johnston said. It also applies to some flip phone users with voice plans, he added. For now, the unlocking service will not apply to Apple iPhone users.

Apple, though, announced last spring it would sell unlocked phones in Canada.

Johnston said consumers who decide to pay for the service are still bound to their contracts.

Some of Telus’ competitors have dabbled in the market for unlocking phones.

Customers with Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) and Fido have been able to unlock their phones through Rogers Wireless since late last year, also for $50 per single phone unlock, a spokeswoman from the company said in an email.

Recent newcomer Wind Mobile also sells SIM cards and unlocked phones.

“This is the way the mobile market needs to be,” said Anthony Lacavera, chairman of parent company Globalive.

“It’s such an important service for Canadians. There has to be this kind of flexibility.”

Mobile phones are commonly sold unlocked in Europe and users pick their carriers.

Whether a mobile phone works on another carrier’s network, though, can depend on the device and network compatibility.

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