Letter: Reasons to clone a mobile phone

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The Independent Online
From Dr Michael H. Smith

Sir: With regard to your article "Mobile-phone industry acts against 'clones' ", (22 November), mobile phone cloning or re-chipping is not confined to fraudulent activity but has several legitimate purposes which you do not mention. For example, someone wishing to upgrade their equipment may wish to transfer their existing number to avoid suffering the inconvenience of publicising a new number. Conversely, in a competitive environment, mobile phone users should be free to transfer to a new service provider without having to purchase new equipment. There may also be legitimate reasons for having two telephones sharing the same number (perhaps a car phone and a hand-portable) where the use on either unit would be insufficient to justify two separate lines, or two separate numbers would be inconvenient. Imagine the outcry if BT insisted that every internal extension within a home had to pay separate line charges. None of these uses involves fraud.

The root of the problem is that equipment costs are generally subsidised by the excessive usage charges levied by the service providers - how else could expensive mobile phones be made available at such low prices?

Yours faithfully,

Michael H. Smith

Bury, Lancashire

23 November