Mobile phone operators across Britain will be banned from selling ‘locked’ handsets, UK telecoms regulator Ofcom announced this morning.
Most of Britain’s largest providers, including BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone, sell mobile devices that cannot be used on other networks unless they are unlocked, a potentially complicated process which often costs around £10. Ofcom has now vowed to end this practice.
“Following consultation, we have confirmed that mobile companies will be banned from selling locked phones – allowing people to move to a different network with their existing handset, hassle-free,” the watchdog said in a statement.
The new rules will come in from December 2021.
Selina Chadha, Ofcom’s connectivity director, added: “We know that lots of people can be put off from switching because their handset is locked.
“So we’re banning mobile companies from selling locked phones, which will save people time, money and effort – and help them unlock better deals.”
The ban on selling locked handsets is part of a broad package of measures by Ofcom to making easier to switch operator.
For example, people will also get a summary of the main terms of their contract in writing, before they sign up.
This will include contract length and prices, and broadband providers will be forced to tell customers the minimum internet speeds they can expect.
Ofcom said it is also working to make it easier to switch between broadband networks.
Many customers wishing to move to a different broadband network need to manage the switch themselves and coordinate with both their new and existing provider to avoid a gap between the old service ending and the new one starting.
“We will shortly consult on more detailed proposals for a new simpler switching process for all broadband customers,” Ofcom said.