Optus, Virgin Mobile and TPG blocking access to paid applications via Android Market

Update: Optus finally allows it’s customers to use paid apps on the Optus, Virgin Mobile and TPG networks (Friday 26th of March 2010)

Optus being the partner network with Google in Australia (at the moment) would seem to be the obvious choice to use with your new Android phone – at least that’s what you would think however Optus have decided to instead block all their customers and those of their resellers Virgin Mobile and TPG from accessing paid applications.

Google have offered them 30% of the app store sales sold via the Optus network but still Optus are holding out for more.  I’m not sure if Google offer this to all carriers or if it’s just the carriers they partner with in each country (I suspect the latter) but this raises the whole issue of Network Neutrality which is based on the principle that if a user pays for internet access and another user pays for internet access they should be able to connect to each other at their level of access (speed for example). In this case you should be able to access the Android Market and purchase apps no matter what network you’re on (the 30% payment is neither here nor there as far as this argument).

Options if you are with Optus, Virgin Mobile or TPG to access paid applications include

  • Rooting the phone and using market enabler – however this voids your warranty and you have to apply updates manually
  • Put a Telstra or Vodafone SIM card in the phone – requires powering off the phone and pulling the battery each time
  • If you’re under contract contact the TIO and raise a dispute with Optus – so far everyone who has done this has had their contract released early so they could move to another network – Telstra or Vodafone work fine
  • If you’re out of contract move to another network – both Telstra and Vodafone work fine (Vodafone will be the new Google partner in Australia when they release the Nexus One here)

Staying with Optus and either not purchasing apps or using one of the workarounds is only going to condone this behavior. Optus have already setup their own App store (very limited content and poor ui) and natural progression will see them diverting traffic from other stores to their store.

There has been some media coverage of this but many customers are still unaware of Optus’s action.

Optus deliberately blocking Android paid apps – APC Magazine

Optus Are Blocking Paid Android Apps – GIZMODO

Paid apps in the android marketplace – Whirlpool

Information about the 30% payment to carriers

Google to Take a Hefty Cut on Android App Sales – Gadget Lab

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