Unlocked Phones and Enterprise Users: Measuring the Impact

Countless consumers value the ability to move from mobile carrier to carrier without having to purchase a new device. Not surprisingly, so do many enterprise users. Moving from one mobile carrier to another currently means investing in a new smartphone or tablet in addition to a new plan. For enterprise users wanting to take advantage of “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD), it’s more or less a necessary evil.  

The advantages of unlocked phones are many-fold for enterprise users, but current regulatory issues stand in the way of allowing both ordinary consumers and enterprise users the freedom to use their mobile devices as they see fit. Once these roadblocks are overcome, unlocked phones are expected to impact the business world in several ways: 

  • Unlocked phones would offer lower long term costs and greater flexibility for businesses. Companies can not only purchase and own these devices outright, but they’re also able to exercise greater control over plans and security options. 

  • Companies will be able to offer a wider variety of devices with plans tailored to the needs of certain departments. Agile mobile management tools will be a necessity for managing Android, iOS and other devices within a singular environment. 

  • With devices no longer tied to a particular carrier, it becomes much easier for corporate IT to create a stockpile of secondary devices, making it possible to issue tablets and smartphones in the same manner as laptops and other electronics. 

  • The arrival of unlocked phones will necessitate IT managers to shift from the familiar discipline of device management to user management. Strategy, productivity, risk and basic services are four key factors to developing a solid user management plan that promotes efficiency and fluidity among users and IT personnel. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and White House officials are working to contest a decision made by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress that rendered the act of consumers unlocking their mobile phones illegal. While unlocked mobile phones are a given in Europe, most carriers in the U.S. lock their mobile devices to their own services. Without the removal of this major stumbling block, no business will be able to benefit from the impacts of unlocked phones on the corporate environment.