Ofcom announce 'locked' handset ban for mobile providers

Government regulator, Ofcom, has recently announced that mobile phone companies will no longer be permitted to sell ‘locked’ handsets. This follows research revealing that more than a third (35%) of people decide against switching networks after being put off by the hassle of unlocking their device.


According to Ofcom, companies such as BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone still sell mobile phones that cannot be used on other networks, resulting in customers experiencing long delays before being able to unlock their device. Users often suffer from unnecessary complications including additional costs to unlock their device, loss of service and delayed or incorrect unlock codes.

It has therefore been decided that from December 2021, Ofcom will ban companies from selling locked phones, allowing customers to move from different networks freely with their existing device with zero hassle. The ban supports the continued plans from Ofcom to ensure that all customers are treated fairly by making it easier to switch.

“We know that lots of people can be put off from switching because their handset is locked. So we are banning mobile companies from selling locked phones, which will save people time, money and effort, and help them unlock better deals.”

Selinda Chadha, Connectivity Director at Ofcom

It has also been added that people will now receive a summary of the main terms of their contract in writing before they sign up including contract length and pricing. Ofcom is also striving to make it easier for customers to switch broadband networks, with minimum expected internet speeds to be included in their summary. Currently, customers switching providers using Openreach’s copper network such as BT, Sky and TalkTalk can simply contact their new provider who will fully manage the switch on the customers behalf.

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