Fetch TV box - Locked so it is e-waste

I was given an Optus Fetch TV unit, not used. Although it is designed to deliver streaming content, it is also able to be used as a free to air recording device. But when I plug it in, it requires an activation code. I contacted Optus, they would not talk to me unless I had an Optus account. They suggested I contact my service provider, who is an Optus reseller. They were unable to help as they do not sell Fetch TV. The Fetch TV web site says it costs $1 to activate, but only the original purchaser can activate it from the supplier. Since the unit has passed through a number of hands, possibly originally from a deceased estate, this is not known.

This is a ridiculous situation. I have a presumably perfectly good but unusable PVR. From reading various web comments, it appears that if Optus supply the Fetch TV box, it ceases to be functional when the original contract is terminated and cannot be enabled.

This must be the ultimate in wasteful consumerism. Create sophisticated equipment that can be used for zero hours.

There should be a pathway to enabling this box. I don’t want to use its streaming function, only the ability to record and playback free to air TV.


I’ve two of the older models. When we were supplied an upgrade or cancelled a contract after more than a few years the ISP did not want the old units back. I suspect there are 100,000’s out there no longer loved or wanted?

Originally the Fetch needed a code to activate full function. I can’t recollect doing the same with the most recent Fetch box. Perhaps it is a remote ISP function, or they are no longer locked to the ISP?


And this is why I tell people over and over, do NOT get into a contract which has a FetchTV attached because it just is not worth it. It becomes a doorstop. I love my Fetch, but I paid a premium for it some years ago. I’m not even subscribed to any of the Fetch channels anymore (not since they dumped my favourite UK ones). It records FTA beautifully. Sorry you can’t use the Fetch as given to you, but just be glad it was a gift (from someone who knew it would not work???) and that you werent caught out as so many have been, by an ebay purchase.


Still does, provided by Fetch, as your login.


I suspect few are aware that FetchTV boxes are or can be network/RSP locked/controlled/activated, regardless of the technique they use to do so.

This information is a public service, well done.


There are two types of Fetch boxes, one which requires subscription (and is locked) and others that don’t.

The ones which aren’t locked are available for purchase through appliance/electrical retail stores…while the subscription ones usually come rolled into a purchased internet bundle or as an add on to basic internet services.

If one wishes to have a fetch box without it being locked by a internet provider, one needs to buy one outright. One provided as part of an internet bundle is paid for indirectly by the internet subscription/package and why they are locked by the provider. They are a bit like locked and unlocked mobile phones.

There are other examples in the community of businesses locking and controlling devices causing bricks/unnecessary eWaste…we have experienced this ourselves with Apple and a gifted iPod.

If one doesn’t want to create eWaste with a Fetch box, there are a number of options…

  1. Don’t use a Fetch box…determine if it is really needed.
  2. Return it to an Optus store and let them deal with it. Hopefully they reuse it with another Optus customer
  3. Don’t accept (or buy) second hand devices from others unless they are proven to be unlocked and can be used by others.
  4. If you really need a Fetch box, buy a unlocked one outright.

I should say I did not ask for the Fetch box. I fiddle with electronics and it was given to me with “can you use this?”. I think the giver was aware the box was useless and expected me to pull it to bits and repurpose the 1Tb hard drive, and maybe the power supply.

It offended me that what appeared to be a perfectly functional unit, which if purchased from a retailer is many hundreds of dollars, is e waste before it was turned on. Anecdotally this is now not the latest model and Optus are not interested in taking it back (and if all else fails I will be dismantling for parts).

One would think that once some time passed, the provider would be required to provide the key to unlock equipment. Many years ago I received an ATA (analog telephone adapter) so I could use the Internet to make VoIP (voice over IP) telephone calls. It was locked to a provider, but as the contract was finished they provided the unlock code and I am still using it. It allowed me to acquire an NBN modem that didn’t have VoIP, that someone else was ‘throwing out’ because they were told they needed a modem with inbuilt VoIP. Another case of unnecessary e waste (I bought another ATA as a spare for $40, they could have done the same instead of spending hundreds for another modem).

I haven’t bought a mobile phone on a plan, but I believe the provider will unlock them once the contract is complete, or they can be transferred to another plan.

If Fetch had a clue, they would have a low cost contract that allowed any Fetch box to be unlocked. As someone else said, these ‘door stops’ are on ebay and there may be thousands of them. I would be tempted to pay the $5/month just to use it for FTA, and maybe get hooked on the streaming services too. As it stands, I think Fetch are creating a lot of adverse publicity and can only suffer as a result of the current situation.


What $5/month??? You only pay the $1 activation fee at first and beyond that, its free for FTA and recording it. Fetch is a good deal. Periodically they make channels free to watch for a month, its all about the hook but its a nice change from something like Foxtel which is still charging like a wounded bull for most of its services. (Not Binge, because they are trying to compete with Netflix, Stan, and the like)… If you keep an eye open you can often get a Mighty on sale for much less than RRP, (though right now its $449) or a refurb unit from the fetchtv store itself. Fetch isnt the one driving the locking of devices as far as I know… thats down to the providers.