Companies with cell phones would no longer be able to sell devices that are connected to particular networks.
According to a recent ruling by telecom regulator Ofcom, which states that businesses such as BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone will only be allowed to sell handsets that enable customers to easily switch networks.
Removing switching barriers: We are banning the sale of locked handsets by phone companies.
This is part of a set of steps that we are implementing to make switching smoother and foster consumer fairness: https://t.co/mCNqTtchMA
– Ofcom (@Ofcom) 27 October 2020
We recognize that many individuals can be put off switching because their phone is locked,” said Selina Chadha, Ofcom’s director of connectivity.”
“That’s why we’re banning mobile companies from selling locked handsets, saving people time, money and effort – and helping them get better deals.”
Companies such as BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone currently also offer handsets that, unless they are unlocked, can not be used on other networks.
Currently, customers can unlock their phones, but it costs money.
Customers will, however, benefit from greater flexibility in their mobile tariffs from December 2021.
As businesses that breach them face heavy penalties, Ofcom expects the new rules to be broadly adhered to.
As of December 2021, telecom companies were prohibited from selling ‘locked’ handsets
A Vodafone UK spokesperson said, “We are ready to implement these changes when they come into force.”
The announcement “will finally rid the industry of this anachronistic practice.” was said by Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at comparison site Uswitch.com.
“He said, “Despite some minor changes to the process, unlocking is always a pain when needed.
Customers will be able to purchase the phone and plan they want, regardless of the network, when the new rules come into effect, understanding that if they want to move to another network later, they can do so conveniently and base the decision only on what’s best for them.
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“Today’s mobile blackout announcement will finally rid the industry of this anachronistic practice.” said Richard Neudegg, head of regulations at Uswitch.com.
The new regulatory package from Ofcom would also add greater flexibility to contracts and strengthen the processes of moving between various networks, but customers will have to wait until the end of 2022 to implement any of these reforms.
“Switching reform will be critical as new all-fiber networks are rolled out across the country. And with the industry unable to agree on a new process so far, all eyes will be on the regulator to see how this will work in practice.”