Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Singtel to sell unlocked iPhone 3G in Singapore?

So far, all iPhones sold have been tied to a telecom network. As such, all buyers of the iPhones theoretically have to use the sim card of a specific telecom network in order to utilize the phone.

But with the release of the new iPhone 3G all over the world, this form of sales will possibly not take place in all the countries being sold in. And one of the exception is Singapore. Thanks to Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), sales of sim locked phones are not allowed so as to allow consumers to freely switch between any operator. This has been further enforced recently by the review of the Mobile Number Portability policy. On 13 June 2008, Singapore has implemented the Full Mobile Number Portability policy that allows consumers to switch between different telecom networks and yet retain their mobile numbers, rather than just forwarding the calls from their old number.

As such, we should be expecting to buy the iPhone unlocked in Singapore. But the question is at what price? Although we know from Steve Job's WWDC 08 Keynote that the iPhone 3G will be sold at a max price of USD $199 (8 GB) all over the world, that does not stop Singtel from only selling the iPhone with a mobile plan. In other words, regardless of whether you use the Singtel mobile plan on the phone or not, you would still have to buy the phone and the mobile plan as a package. Since they are the current exclusive carrier of the iPhone, and they is no way to sim lock the phone to their network, selling the phone together with their mobile plan seems like the logical way for them to benefit from the exclusivity.

So the new iPhone 3G may be cheap, relatively speaking, but be prepared to fork out for the biggest mobile plan Singtel has to offer. Hopefully that's not case, but since you can't get it from Starhub or M1 at the moment, the ball is all in Singtel's court right now.

I've already made a reservation for the iPhone on the Singtel website, so let's wait and see what Singtel has to offer.

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