updated 09:05 am EST, Mon February 7, 2011
Telus starts unlocking phones on February 15
Telus started the week by becoming the first major Canadian carrier with a flexible unlocking policy. As of February 15, customers will have the option of paying to unlock any GSM-based phones. The approach will carry a $50 fee but will only require that customers have had the phone on the network for at least 90 days.
Unlocks won't include the iPhone at first, but Apple's phone should have the option soon.
The deal doesn't get users out of their contracts but is a potentially major help for travelers. It will let customers avoid paying extremely high roaming rates for voice or data and instead gives the option of using a prepaid SIM through a local carrier.
Telus' deal isn't first but is noticeably much more favorable than that for Rogers' unlocking strategy. While Rogers already unlocks the iPhone and other devices, it currently forces customers to run the length of their entire contract before they can get the unlock, in many cases rendering the unlock impractical.
Rogers has been concerned that customers could use the unlocked phones to jump to a competing carrier, but the argument has been criticized for its questionable logic. Since customers are still bound to the monthly contract, they would pay for the device subsidy and the possible early termination fee regardless of the phone's locked state.
Bell hasn't said if it will follow suit.