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."

Top Rated Comments

Wig321 Avatar
5 weeks ago
OFCOM has actually done something for once?
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LeeW Avatar
5 weeks 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
5 weeks 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
5 weeks ago
Good, pro-consumer move.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kerr Avatar
5 weeks ago
This became the norm a long time ago in Australia
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bokito Avatar
5 weeks 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)

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