By Ted Kritsonis
Telus announced that, starting February 15, it will unlock any phone it offers for a flat fee of $50. The caveat to all this is that you need to be a Telus customer with a monthly plan.
The gist of it is this: if you’re a Telus subscriber with a monthly plan, and your phone has been hooked up to their network for at least 90 days, then you qualify to have your phone unlocked. This applies even in cases where you’re not under contract and you paid the full, unsubsidized cost for your phone.
Telus’s reasoning behind the move was to make it easier for its customers when they travel, so they can just slide in a SIM card from a local carrier to save money. Additionally, Telus acknowledged that phone resale value is directly tied to whether a phone is locked or unlocked.
But the timing is also two months after Rogers and Fido initiated the option to unlock phones for a $50 fee. The key difference is that Rogers and Fido will only do that for those who paid the no-contract price for the phone, or completed the full term of a contract.
All phones are to be covered, including Koodo and Mike handsets, plus popular models like the iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S and BlackBerry Torch.
Another caveat is that the $50 can essentially represent a “get-out” fee in that Telus customers can pay to have their phones unlocked in order to leave and join another carrier. Add in the $35 activation fee that is universal when joining any one of the carriers, and the overall cost of unlocking a phone can be higher than just the initial $50.
The tech rumour mill has postulated that more manufacturers may choose to sell their phones unlocked directly to consumers, much like Apple did in Canada with the iPhone 4, and Google did with the Nexus One in the U.S. Time will tell if that actually happens though.
With Telus and Rogers now offering this service, the ball is in Bell’s court to follow suit, if they choose to.
- Update to this story: Unlocking phones: what Canada’s carriers will and won’t do
- More Telus coverage