Back when the iPhone first launched, there were many people who wanted to get one but had to decide whether it was worth it or not to be locked into a required 2-year contract with AT&T. As it turns out, a good chunk of people must have felt it was in fact worth it, given how well the iPhone has done so far. Every cell-phone provider out there that we know of requires people to sign at least a one year contract at the time they subscribe for service. This contract that locks users in to one carrier is part of the reason that companies are able to offer phones at subsidized prices. If someone decides to break their contract though, it can be very costly and include a lot of hassle.
The reason we’re bringing up the topic of a contract free cell-phone is that earlier this week, a State Representative from Massachusetts proposed a bill which would force the cell-phone carriers in the United States to offer no-contract phones. The only condition under this bill, if the subscriber decided to go this route, would be that they’d have to pay full price for a phone. In return though, they would not be locked into one provider and wouldn’t have to worry about paying early termination fees. Additional items that are part of the bill which is being called the Wireless Consumer Protection and Community Broadband Empowerment Act include:
- Better and more detailed coverage maps
- No penalties for canceling a contract within 30 days (if a user decided to stay locked-in a contract)
- Detailed cost breakdowns for wireless plans that are clear and easy to understand
- Carriers would be forced pro-rate early termination fees for contracts (some already do this)
- Phones wouldn’t be able to be locked to just one provider (e.g. Apple and AT&T would be forced to unlock the iPhone)
Some of you are probably thinking that not having a contract would be great because you have an iPhone and you already paid full-price. You may want to think again though because some analysts have estimated that AT&T already subsidizes the phone by $400 meaning you’d pay $800 for the phone with no contract.
Given the choice, would you be willing to pay more for a contract-free phone? Take our poll below! Please note that you must have Flash enabled and the poll below does not replace the current site poll in the right sidebar.