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Summary:

O2 just announced what seems like a fairly magnanimous gesture on its part today, in preparation for the launch of the iPhone on other UK carriers and the end of iPhone exclusivity in that country. That should mean that O2 customers who want to take their […]

o2-logoO2 just announced what seems like a fairly magnanimous gesture on its part today, in preparation for the launch of the iPhone on other UK carriers and the end of iPhone exclusivity in that country. That should mean that O2 customers who want to take their business elsewhere can have their phones unlocked as early as tomorrow, since Nov. 10 is the stated launch date for Orange UK’s iPhone offerings.

The news, which comes via The iPhone Blog, is a promising sign for all iPhone users. If Apple is at all a party to the decision to allow unlocking of its devices in countries where the iPhone is available on multiple networks, then hope exists for countries like Canada, too, where the iPhone recently became available on Bell and Telus, as well as Rogers, the original carrier.

O2 CEO Matthew Key describes in an interview with the Times Online how customers will be able to unlock, though that won’t relieve them of their contractual obligations:

Once the iPhone becomes available on other UK networks, we will allow O2 customers to unlock their iPhones, although of course they will still need to honor any outstanding contract period they have. At the end of their contract period, they are entirely free to move to another operator — though naturally we hope they won’t want to!

It isn’t clear how the unlocking procedure will actually work. Will users have to physically visit an O2 store, or can it be done over the phone using iTunes at home? Whatever the method, O2 is doing the right thing by providing its customers a choice, which is a good faith gesture which should end up building customer loyalty and avoiding resentment. No word yet on whether or not other UK carriers will be offering the same service for their iPhone devices.

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  1. This is great news as I moved to an area with poor O2 coverage 12 months ago, Orange is the only carrier with reliable coverage in my area and as I am happy with my iPhone 3G it means I will be able to use it on the Orange network. It is a pity O2 do not have better coverage in my area as I have been happy with them where coverage is good.

  2. Era (Polish carrier, 70% of stock in hands of T-Mobile) made similar move couple of months ago and unlock was available directly via iTunes. One day I just plugged in my phone to do a sync and got asked if I want to remove carrier lock.

    One click and 30 seconds later I was able to use my phone with any sim card I like – nice and easy. I expect O2 in UK will do the same thing!

  3. It says how the unlocking will work on the O2 web site: http://shop.o2.co.uk/update/unlockmyiphone.html “Firstly, complete the unlocking form – it will take up to 14 days for the iPhone to be unlocked and we’ll text you to confirm the unlock request. Then place a non-O2 sim into the iPhone and connect to iTunes via a USB cable. iTunes will confirm that the iPhone has been successfully unlocked. “

  4. Too late. I love the iphone. However, I could wait no longer to buy it from the provider of my choice. I purchased one of the less popular blackberry models for $49 w/ two year contract. The phone comes w/ an additional $50 rebate making in free w/ contract. My small location carrier’s monthly fees allow unlimited use of two smart phones for roughly the same amount AT&T would charge for one iphone line. The Blackberry is no iphone, but it is good enough for the money. Too bad Apple did not see fit to allow me to use their phone on my provider of choice.

  5. UR-VE.COM » Blog Archive » O2 permitirá el desbloqueo oficial de iPhones Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    [...] Vía: TUAW y The Apple Blog [...]

  6. This could possibly be one reason for me to stay with O2 come end of contract time. There is little if any difference between the contract cost – although if memory serves me correctly, Orange have a bigger variety of lower end deals (more minutes and texts at the cheaper end of the scale on the 24 month contract).

    Of course Orange have the significantly wider 3G coverage as the ace up their sleeve, but since I tend to use WiFi at home and at work (where I don’t get 3G) then it’s not a big issue for me.

    I guess it depends on what sort of deal they will offer when it comes time to renew the contract!

    TSR.

  7. This is great news and about time. I purchased a New iPhone outright for £538 while still under contract as I am due to emigrate to Canada in Jan. Now I can unlock my phone officially and use it over there rather than having to jailbrake it.

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