updated 02:29 pm EST, Fri February 22, 2013
Unlocked phones otherwise de facto in city
Hong Kong Telecommunications is turning to the legal system in a complaint with the city's telecoms regulator over Apple iPhone locking, according to the Wall Street Journal. Unlocked phones are commonplace in Hong Kong; in fact, the city was one of the first regions in the world to get unlocked iPhones as an option. The iPhone 5, though, is only compatible with two 4G networks in the area, excluding HKT -- which is owned by Hong Kong's biggest telecoms company, PCCW.
On September 28th, shortly after it discovered the iPhone 5 wouldn't function on its 4G network, HKT filed a complaint with the city's regulator. That hasn't made any progress though, and so the company is now asking for a judicial review of the way the regulator has handled the case. Should a review go through, it could eventually allow a challenge of Apple's locking policies.
In court documents, HKT argues that it has lost "hundreds of millions of Hong Kong dollars" because people can't use the iPhone 5 on its network. It also contends that shoppers are being harmed, since they might not have been aware of restrictions and later discovered "that they were having their choice of mobile service provider dictated (or limited) by Apple." The company suggests that Apple could easily enable the iPhone 5 for HKT by making a change in iOS, and gain more customers at the same time.