4/22/2008 7:06:00 PM
Dongles hit by unlockers
Customers are avoiding exorbitant data roaming charges by getting their dongles reprogrammed to allow them to use foreign networks when they travel.
Mobile phone unlockers have reported a surge in customers keen to cut the cost of roaming charges by having their prepay mobile broadband modems unlocked, so they can replace their UK Sim cards with one from their destination country.
The high costs for data roaming have meant that networks have come under fire from EU commissioner for information, society and media Viviane Reding. She said: ‘I have no appetite at all for regulating again. But to avoid regulation, the industry will have to show its responsiveness to consumer concerns by credible reductions of the cost for data roaming both at the wholesale and at the retail level, and by transparent offers compatible with the spirit of the single market.’
One T-Mobile UK customer recently ran up a £10,000 bill while in Austria, due to the network charging £7.50 per megabyte.
3’s out-of-bundle data usage costs 10p per megabyte for customers using their modem in the UK, but these charges rocket to up to £6 per megabyte for those using their dongle abroad.
However, some customers seem unwilling to wait for legislation to be passed to reduce data charges or for the networks to voluntarily reduce their costs. Faisal Sheikh, from unlocking firm Fonedoctors, said his company charges £40 to unlock any dongle. He said: ‘We’ve done 100 - mainly 3 and T-Mobile - since they took off five or six weeks ago. We had our first enquiry back in February.’
Another unlocker, from Fun Fone Shop, said he had received enquiries about unlocking dongles but he was waiting for a decrease in the costs involved.
He said: ‘It’s £350 for the kit at the moment. I think it’s because it’s still quite new.’
Retailers and operators alike have dismissed fears of box breaking on dongles, as they claim prepay dongles are not subsidised like handsets.