updated 11:20 am EST, Fri March 11, 2011
NTT DoCoMo finally permits SIM unlocks
NTT DoCoMo said on Friday that it would at last begin allowing device unlocks and support outside hardware. Any phone, tablet, or other device bought on the Japanese network from April 1 onwards will be unlockable for use on another carrier. Owners have to visit a DoCoMo store and pay both a 3,150 yen ($38) fee and sign a waiver understanding that the carrier's specific features won't work on another network.
The company also hoped to attract iPad and iPhone buyers by offering independent SIM cards for the first time. Subscribers will have the option of either a full-size SIM card or a primarily Apple-friendly micro SIM to use an outside device on the DoCoMo network or switch users for one already in use. SIM cards themselves will be free and leave the only costs to those of the plan itself.
A handful of outside devices might not work, NTT DoCoMo said, and some of its own devices might not behave properly with a different SIM.
The provider has historically been oen of the most unusually restrictive carriers in the world and, until now, one of the few to not only decline unlocks but to actively refuse SIM cards for unlocks. iPhones are believed to be the primary impetus as SoftBank still leads in smartphones owing to the popularity of the handset, even with a native Galaxy S' relative success on DoCoMo.
Its timing will also let iPad 2 buyers get the 3G version for use on DoCoMo.