6 Jun 2019
The government of the Philippines has ordered the country’s telecoms operators to unlock mobile phones and other devices free of charge after the subscriber’s initial contract period ends. In a ruling delivered on 31 May 2019, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) requires telcos to unlock eligible devices within two business days after a subscriber ‘in good standing’ makes a request. Under the new rules, which take effect 15 days after the rule was issued and cover post-paid and pre-paid subscribers, Filipino mobile users ‘should have the option of changing between compatible wireless service providers’. The government believes the move, which follows a December 2018 order from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to mandate phone unlocking after the lock-in period specified in the contract, will encourage network operators to innovate in order to keep or attract subscribers. The regulator’s decision comes as the country’s new ‘third telco’ Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company (Mislatel) prepares to roll out its services by late 2020.