UK Ban on Sale of Locked Handsets to Come into Effect December 2021

British telecoms regulator Ofcom has confirmed it is to ban mobile phone operators from selling locked handsets in order to make switching networks easier for customers (via Sky News).

ofcome uk telecoms regulator
The watchdog says the current rules hurt some consumers because locked handsets can't be used on other mobile networks until the owner pays for them to be unlocked – usually around £10.

Ofcom, which first floated the idea in December last year, says the new rule will be implemented from December 2021 to make switching providers easier.

The new rule will target BT/EE, Tesco Mobile, and Vodafone, all of which sell locked handsets. O2, Sky, Three, and Virgin do not sell locked phones and won't be affected.

Ofcom said its research found the issue was putting more than a third of people off switching with their existing handset and potentially getting a better deal.

It also highlighted the difficulties experienced by many consumers who currently need to be sent a code to unlock their device, which is often time-consuming and can involve failed codes and a loss of service during the unlocking process.

"We know that lots of people can be put off from switching because their handset is locked," said Ofcom's connectivity director, Selina Chadha. "So we're banning mobile companies from selling locked phones, which will save people time, money and effort - and help them unlock better deals."

Popular Stories

Apple WWDC24 Apple Intelligence hero 240610

Apple Explains iPhone 15 Pro Requirement for Apple Intelligence

Wednesday June 19, 2024 4:48 am PDT by
With iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, Apple is introducing a new personalized AI experience called Apple Intelligence that uses on-device, generative large-language models to enhance the user experience across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These new AI features require Apple's latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models to work, while only Macs and iPads with M1 or later chips will...
Apple Vision Pro 2 Feature 2

Apple Reportedly Suspends Work on Vision Pro 2

Tuesday June 18, 2024 8:17 am PDT by
Apple has suspended work on the second-generation Vision Pro headset to singularly focus on a cheaper model, The Information reports. Apple was widely believed to have plans to divide its Vision product line into two models, with one "Pro" model and one lower-cost standard model. The company is said to have been deprioritizing the next Vision Pro headset over the past year, gradually...
M4 Real Feature Red

M4 MacBook Pro Models Expected to Launch in Late 2024

Tuesday June 18, 2024 10:50 am PDT by
MacBook Pro models with an M4 chip are expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2024, according to display analyst Ross Young. In a tweet for subscribers, Young said that panel shipments for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are set to begin in the third quarter of 2024, which suggests a launch toward the end of the year. Apple started its M4 chip refresh in May with the launch...
iPhone 16 Pro Max Generic Feature 2

5 Biggest Changes Rumored for iPhone 16 Pro Max

Wednesday June 19, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Given Apple's rumored plan to add an all-new high-end tier to its iPhone 17 series in 2025, this could be the year for Apple to bring its boldest "Pro Max" model to the table — the kind of iPhone 16 upgrade that stands tall above its siblings, both figuratively and literally. If you have been holding out for the iPhone 16 Pro Max, here are five of the biggest changes rumored to be coming...
Apple Intelligence General Feature

Apple Intelligence Features Not Coming to European Union at Launch Due to DMA

Friday June 21, 2024 9:44 am PDT by
Apple today said that European customers will not get access to the Apple Intelligence, iPhone Mirroring, and SharePlay Screen Sharing features that are coming to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac this September due to regulatory issues related to the Digital Markets Act. In a statement to Financial Times, Apple said that there will be a delay as it works to figure out how to make the new...
2022 back to school apple feature

Apple's 2024 Back to School Sale Launching This Week

Monday June 17, 2024 12:27 pm PDT by
Apple will launch its annual Back to School promotion for university students in the United States and Canada this week, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple's back to school sales provide students with a free Apple gift card when purchasing a Mac or an iPad, and this year's promotion could help Apple push the new M2 iPad Air and M4 iPad Pro models. Last year, Apple offered U.S....

Top Rated Comments

Wig321 Avatar
48 months ago
OFCOM has actually done something for once?
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LeeW Avatar
48 months ago
About time, the whole handset locking thing was really to prevent people within contract trying to cancel in the middle of it whether they could or not, but they made it ridiculous even out of a contract. I started paying for handsets outright years ago due to this.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
coredev Avatar
48 months ago
They need to become active on their own now, since after Brexit the EU is not taking care of their sh*t anymore.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mac Rules Avatar
48 months ago
Good, pro-consumer move.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kerr Avatar
48 months ago
This became the norm a long time ago in Australia
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bokito Avatar
48 months ago
While I approve these bans the telcos will find other ways to block/annoy customers who want to move over like delays, dozens of calls to remind you how good the provider is or just 'errors' when moving you over. You need more than a ban on locked phones to actually help customers.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)