Mobile phone firms banned from selling locked handsets

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

Telecoms giants like BT, EE, Vodafone and Tesco Mobile all sell mobile phone handsets that can’t be used on other networks unless they are unlocked.

Mobile phone firms will be banned from selling locked handsets from next December

But from December 2021, the firms won’t be allowed to do so anymore following a consultation by Ofcom.

The regulator announced the plans in December last year, but has today confirmed them.

It comes after it found that a third of phone users are put off switching by locked handsets.

Unlocking your phone can be a potentially complicated process, which can also cost around £10, Ofcom said.

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.”

Ofcom today also confirmed plans to make broadband switching easier.

Currently, you can only switch automatically between BT, Sky and TalkTalk using Openreach’s copper network.

But it wants to improve the process for moving to other networks – such as Virgin Media, CityFibre, Gigaclear or Hyperoptic.

Ofcom said it’ll shortly consult on more details proposals for all broadband customers, but hasn’t yet confirmed a timeline.

Last year, Ofcom announced new rules for mobile firms to move millions of out of contract customer to cheaper SIM only deals.

New rules which help customers switch mobile phone operators by sending just one text came into force last July.

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