ICTA looks at cell phone locking

The Information and Communications Technology Authority launched a public consultation last week to seek comments about the local practice known as handset locking.

Mobile service providers in the Cayman Islands apply this practice to some or all of the handsets they supply so as to prevent the handset from being used by an alternative mobile service provider’s network, the ICTA said on its website.

The ICTA thinks the practice might hinder competition, but also recognises prohibiting the practice could have negative effects.

‘The locking of any handsets by any service provider may inhibit competition as it is an impediment to customers changing service providers,’ it said.

‘On the other hand, it may be argued that handset prices would rise if unlocking were to be mandated because of reduced incentives for service providers to provide handset subsidies.’

The ICTA also noted that a jurisdiction that permits service providers to choose whether or not to lock handsets, as is currently the case in Cayman, may be viewed as according a greater freedom of choice to customers and hence a more competitive regime, the consultation document stated.

Members of the public who wish to file comments on the subject should submit them in writing to the ICTA by 13 January, 2006.

More information about the process to file comments can be obtained at the ICTA’s website at www.icta.ky.

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