UK to ban sale of network-locked mobile phones
UK mobile phone operators will be banned from selling smartphones locked to their networks, allowing consumers to change providers more easily, the industry regulator said on Tuesday.
Companies including BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone sell phones that cannot be used on other networks unless they have been unlocked, a potentially complex process that can cost about £10, Ofcom said. The ban, which implements the new European Electronic Communications Code, is due to take effect in December 2021.
Operators O2, Sky, Three and Virgin Media all sell unlocked devices to their customers. Ofcom research found more than a third of people who decide against switching do so because their handset was locked.
“We know that lots of people can be put off from switching because their handset is locked,” said Selina Chadha, Ofcom’s connectivity director.
“So we’re banning mobile companies from selling locked phones, which will save people time, money and effort – and help them unlock better deals.”
Ofcom said it was also consulting on proposals to make it easier to switch from fixed-line broadband providers that use Openreach’s copper network to those that use completely separate networks, such as Virgin Media, CityFibre, Gigaclear or Hyperoptic.