Handset Locking Strategies
2006.07.31   |   21 pages   |   Churn Prevention Strategies

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Handset locks have been available to mobile operators for several years. However, there are inconsistencies in the way in which they have been deployed between markets, within markets and across international mobile operator groups. The current report describes the wide diversity of handset lock strategies found across 31 operators in eight European markets. It poses and addresses the following questions in order to provide insights into best practices in the deployment of handset locks:

  1. Operator Policies - What are operator motivations for the use handset locks and how/when are the different types of handset lock applied?
  2. What are customer motivations when requesting a SIM lock removal?
  3. What influences the level of charge an operator can apply for the removal of a handset lock?
  4. What Risks and Rewards are associated with low/high charges for unlocking handsets?
  5. What are the limitations of Handset locks and how should this impact on Operator strategies?

At the end of this report, the arguments cultivated in our analysis are harvested to present Recommendations for Operators when devising Handset Lock Policies.

Keywords: Handset Locking, Churn, Strategy, Policy, SIM Locks, Churn Prevention,

Table of Contents

1 Overview 1
2 Background 2
2.1 What is Handset Locking? 2
2.2 Technical Issues & Standards 2
2.3 Handset Locking Categories 3
2.4 The Handset Locking Process 4
3 Operator Handset Lock Policies 6
3.1 Austria 6
3.1.1 Mobilkom A1 6
3.1.2 T-Mobile 6
3.1.3 Telering 6
3.1.4 ONE 6
3.1.5 Hutchison 3 7
3.2 France 7
3.2.1 SFR 7
3.2.2 Orange 7
3.2.3 Bouygues Telecom 7
3.3 Germany 7
3.3.1 T-Mobile 7
3.3.2 Vodafone 7
3.3.3 O2 8
3.3.4 E-Plus 8
3.4 Ireland 8
3.4.1 Vodafone 8
3.4.2 O2 8
3.4.3 Meteor 9
3.4.4 Hutchison 3 9
3.5 Italy 9
3.5.1 Hutchison 3 9
3.6 Spain 10
3.6.1 TME & Vodafone 10
3.7 Switzerland 10
3.7.1 Swisscom Mobile & Orange 10
3.7.2 Sunrise 11
3.8 UK 11
3.8.1 Orange 11
3.8.2 O2 11
3.8.3 Virgin 11
3.8.4 Vodafone 11
3.8.5 T-Mobile 12
3.8.6 Hutchison 3 12
3.9 Policy Comparisons 13
4 Strategic Considerations when Establishing a Handset Lock Policy 15
4.1 Customer Motivations for Lock Removal 15
4.2 Consideration of a No Lock Policy 16
4.3 Influences on Unlock Charges 17
4.3.1 Competitor Policies 17
4.3.2 Regulator Intervention 18
4.3.3 Operator Strategy 18
4.4 Risks/ Rewards of High & Low Unlock Charges 19
4.4.1 High Unlock Charges 19
4.4.2 Low Unlock Charges 19
4.5 Limitations of Handset Locks and how this should impact on Operator Strategies 20
5 Recommendations for Operators 21

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