UK Announces Ban On Sale Of Network-Locked Phones
If you’ve ever tried to switch contracts on a locked phone, you’ll know just how frustrating a process it can be.
Luckily the days of network-locked devices are soon to be a thing of the past, thanks to a new regulation set to ban the practice in the UK from December 2021.
Communications regulator Ofcom announced the decision this morning, October 27, saying that locked handsets can discourage users from switching providers when their contracts end, which often leads to them spending more many on their existing phone plan than they would be with a new provider.
While on average it only costs around £10 to unlock a handset, Ofcom has said that it is often a complicated and frustrating process, with more than half of all people said to experience issues when trying to switch.
Customers have been said to wait for days for their phones to be unlocked, BBC News reports, while others say the process, which requires a code to be sent to the users phone, often does not work at all.
Another problem comes from people not realising that their phones are locked to a particular network, causing them to experience a loss of service when they try to switch to a new SIM card.
Networks have previously justified selling locked phones by saying it helps to deter theft and fraud. However many major network providers have already shifted to only selling unlocked phones.
The main companies affected by the ban are EE, Vodafone and Tesco Mobile.
Ofcom connectivity director Selina Chadha said in a statement:
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.
The rule change comes alongside several other new regulations targeted at making it easier for customers to negotiate broadband and mobile contracts. Other measures include providing communications in accessible formats such as braille, and giving customers stronger rights to leave if the terms of their contract change.
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