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Unlocking phones in London

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Oct 30th, 2008, 02:18 PM
  #1
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Unlocking phones in London

Maybe xyz123 has an answer for me here?
Where would I go to have a few phones unlocked?
Not that I would want to do something illegal, just out of interest.
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Oct 30th, 2008, 02:44 PM
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Hi logos....

Why wouldn't you want to do it in your Germany where you live? Oh yes...I think you've told me German law instead of being on the side of the consumer is on the side of the powerful telcoms......

Every time I've been to London, when I walk down Oxford Street starting at Charing Cross Road by the Totenham Court station of the central line, I pass store front after store front with large signs in the window saying they unlock phones and the price seems to be around 8 quid...

Now you must understand, I would never do anything illegal...up till now whenever I have had to unlock an old Nokia phone, my preferred brand, I downloaded the unlocking code generator from the web but those disgusting folks at Nokia for later models seem to have stymied hackers from getting a hold of the unlocking code generator. So I've never used any of them but this is what the signs say.

There is also this internet cafe I use all the time (£1 for up to 2 hours, even a better value now that the GBP has tanked a bit, although with the rise in US interest rates yesterday it came back a bit; but the Bank of England, it is rumoured will have to drop interest rates soon), located on Charing Cross Road about two blocks down from Oxford Street opposite a Sainsbury grocery store that advertises they unlock phones. Again haven't used them.

But good luck in your effort to stay away from those big bad German regulators who try to deprive consumers of their rights to use their equipment as they see fit.
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Oct 30th, 2008, 02:54 PM
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Thank you! 8 quid sounds reasonable.

I also heard about people that buy cables for unlocking on the internet or do some DIY. I even heard about some Bavarians going to Austria to get some help.
Not thay anybody here would do a thing like that!
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Oct 30th, 2008, 02:57 PM
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Yes, I agree there are dozens of shops advertising unlocking service in Cenral London for a fee. Most are ok, because if they don't do as they claim, you will know straghtaway and you simply refuse to pay!
These shops can unlock most phones, but some high-end phones which have been recently launched can't be unlocked without getting a code from the service provider, who in turn get it from the manufacturer. Until someone 'cracks the code', as it were, you have no choice but to get the code from your network provider and pay for it.
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Oct 30th, 2008, 03:04 PM
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don't worry...our economy is completely wrecked...the only businesses left are:

1. roving golf sales
2. storefronts with pictures of nice houses in the windows and dummies propped up on chairs with phones to their ears...formerly called 'estate agents'
3. mobile phone unlockers

you can't walk 2 metres without tripping over one of them.

all of our power stations have been turned into art museums so we don't have any power any longer.
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Oct 30th, 2008, 03:10 PM
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>don't worry...our economy is completely wrecked..

Thanks, just what I expected! I won't be scared, I've already been to the US.
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Oct 30th, 2008, 06:28 PM
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...stay away from those big bad German regulators who try to deprive consumers of their rights to use their equipment as they see fit.

Cell phone providers subsidize phones based on their revenue models, which include amortizing the cost of the phone through service fees.

By unlocking a phone that a cell phone operator has paid for in anticipation of paying for it through user fees and using it with another provider, you are stealing from that operator.

If you paid a reasonable retail price for the phone, then it would be "your equipment," and you should be able to do anything with it that you please. Absent that stipulation, you are defrauding the entity that paid the manufacturer for it.
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Oct 30th, 2008, 09:43 PM
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Robespierre...

You are, of course, right to a large degree although I don't necessarily agree with the practice.

I am just looking and thinking though when I signed an agreement not to unlock the phone.

I happen to find the practice inconvenient...it is interesting to note that Italy at one point (I don't know if that law still exists) not allowing companies to lock gsm phones and phones sold in Finaldn are sold unlocked (can't have anything to do with the fact Nokia is a Finnish company can it?)..

It is interesting to note, though, that the unlocking is done quite openly in London while our dear friend logos in Germany is faced with the fact that German law seems to prohibit geeks from unlocking phones....

But I am sure you, as a most ethical person, would never dream of having your locked phone unlocked, right?
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Oct 31st, 2008, 01:14 AM
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It's not stealing, it's a copyright violation and fraud.

The law says that it is an offense to de-engineer or circumvent encrytion systems and it's a copyright violation, because the code is altered.
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Oct 31st, 2008, 01:26 AM
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obviously 2 wrongs don't make a right and all of that but perhaps people wouldn't be so eager to unlock their phones if the industry wasn't so eager to screw customers. of course an argument can be made for nearly all industries screwing customers but the mobile phone industry is notorious for being one of the worst industries for this. the retail end does the dirty work for the telcos locking young people into very expensive deals through lies and a sham of being 'independent'. somehow i have no sympathy for them.

i don't fully understand the dark underbelly of society that is the unlocking stalls and their customers. do most of these people default on their contracts and then unlock and go to someone else? are they stolen phones? do people unlock them after their contracts run out?
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Oct 31st, 2008, 01:46 AM
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Any and all of the above....

You have a phone on contract and one of the things is that as better phones come out, many telcoms allow you to upgrade (using the subsidies referred to)...what do you do with the phone being upgraded?

You may want to sell it on ebay...so of course you want it unlocked to make it available to a greater number of people.

Or you, totally innocently, want to use that phone (or even the new phone) when you make your semi annual trip say from the USA to the UK...why have to buy a new phone; especially today when in the UK they are literally giving away PAYG sim packages for free..after all wasn't the flexibility of gsm with the use of sim cards one of the selling points of the technology even though many geeks tell me it is an inferior technology?

Or your kid is going to Europe and you have this old "antique" gsm phone sitting in your drawer..

I can go on and on about quite legitemate reasons to be able to unlock phones.

And, of course, telcoms don't always play fair either. In many cases, they contract with a manufacturer to provide a particular model but want some of its features crippled. For example, I know of one Canadian telcom that has Nokia on its 5310 (there could be other models where this happens) that wants the ability to use any old MP3 as a ring tone crippled all the better to force you to buy ringones from them.

Howard Forums and others are full of advice of how to debrand a phone to allow you to use it to its full potential.

Is this "illegal" too?

Some telcoms have liberal unlocking policies. In the USA, T Mobile USA has a very liberal unlocking policy only requiring about 90 days of ownership and then they will provide unlocking codes.

All sorts of kits are sold with cables to allow phones to be unlocked but unfortunately for the consumer (fortunately for the telcom of course) the manufacturers have worked with the telcoms to make it more and more difficult for non geeks like me to unlock phones (I used to be able to unlock most any Nokia phone with the unlocking calculator that I downloaded from the net but a new one hasn't yet been put on the net).....golly that makes me a petty criminal...and here it was I thought I was one of the most vice free people in the world. I guess I'm just going to have to think differently of myself!
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Nov 1st, 2008, 11:19 PM
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Robespierre

it's not illegal, the law doesn't consider it to be theft so what's the problem?
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Nov 2nd, 2008, 01:48 AM
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I don't know about "legality"...I don't know if, for example, when I got a subsidized phone from T Mobile I signed an agreement not to unlock it or to flash it or whatever (flashing a phone is done to remove some of the crippling things some telcoms do to their subsidized phones; as I noted, for example, many new phones with mp3 players allow you to download mp3's from most anywhere and then use them as ringtones but one Canadian telcom got Nokia to cripple this feature on the Nokia 5310 it provides its subscribers, there are many other features companies ask the manufacturers to disable on the phones they subsidize and provider their customers, geeks have ways of flashing these phones to get around this)...logos tells us that in Germany, you won't find places that unlock phones as this is considered a violation of some sort of law in Germany. In other places, as noted in London, it's done in what seems almost every other store front in certain areas of the city.

It might be like software for example. If I buy microsoft word (I prefer Wordperfect myself), I don't really own the software. I own a license to use the software as outlined when I put it on a computer. In theory, if I have 3 computers, I'm supposed to purchase a copy for each. Now the software vendors have worked hard, what with passwords and required registration via the internet to make this stick. But many companies have found ways around this. We hear all the time warnings about using "pirated" software. Of course, they won't go after some persons who uses it on 2 machines (although they could)...but they will go after a company who puts it on 30 machines without paying for an unlimited multi use license.

Yet all the time, you can if you look around get pirated unlimited use software. Clearly here you're in violation of the user's agreement, at least somebody is (the end user, the hacker or both)...

I don't know what's legal, illegal or simply unethical anymore.

But like I said, the advantage gsm is supposed to have over other 2g technologies is the ability to switch sim cards or not be tied down to just what phones your providers provides. Locking phones defeats this flexibility as is the refusal of some companies to ever provide unlocking codes, even for perfectly "legitemate" uses such as on a short trip switching your provider's sim card for a PAYG sim card....
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Nov 2nd, 2008, 09:27 PM
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In the UK it is legal to unlock a phone but illegal to unblock one.
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Nov 3rd, 2008, 04:27 AM
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The first place you would go is Google.
Many phones can be unlocked easily by the user.
Motorolas are difficult. Nokias are easy.
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Nov 3rd, 2008, 07:50 AM
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'Nokias are easy.'

Maybe older phones (more than 3-4 years old), which can indeed be unlocked by using a free online unlocking code generator. I have unloacked, for example, several 3510i at home. But modern Nokias, esp high-end models like N-series (BB5 models), are much harder to unlock, and N95 and newer require a code from the service provider, or an unlocking box that costs several hundred to several thousand pounds (some unlocking shops own one and can unlock, but charge around £25 each phone). Also newer Nokias require test points, which means opening the back of phone and soldering on wire probes - strictly for experienced technicians only!
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