Mobile phone companies will soon be banned from selling locked handsets

Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 12:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 12:24 pm

Mobile phone firms will be banned from selling locked handsets, regulator Ofcom has confirmed.

Currently, some telecom firms - such as BT, EE and Vodafone - sell mobile phone handsets which cannot be used on other networks, unless they are unlocked.

However, following a consultation from Ofcom, phone companies will no longer be able to do this from December 2021.

‘It will save people time, money and effort’

Ofcom first revealed these plans last December, but has now confirmed them.

The regulator said that the process of unlocking your phone can be complicated, and usually comes with an associated cost of around £10.

Ofcom also said its research found that the issue was putting more than a third of people off switching their handset, noting that many consumers find unlocking a handset time-consuming.

Consumers currently need to be sent a code in order to unlock their device, but Ofcom said that some customers experience frustration over failed codes and a loss of service during the unlocking process.

Selina Chadha, Ofcom’s connectivity director, said, “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.”

Other changes

Ofcom also recently announced other new planned measures, including holding a consultation on a simpler process for switching broadband providers.

Telecoms customers will soon be entitled to receive a summary of the main terms of their contract in writing before they sign up. This summary will include contract length and prices, with broadband firms also having to tell customers the minimum internet speeds that they can expect.