Locked mobile devices will soon be a thing of the past
In latest news, mobile phone providers will be prohibited from selling locked handsets from next year, broadcasting regulator Ofcom has announced.
Locked devices only run on a specific mobile network and cannot be used on rival carrier networks, a practice Ofcom believes can discourage consumers from switching providers for a better deal.
Locked phones will be banned from sale from December 2021, allowing users to move to another network while retaining their existing handset.
BT Mobile/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone all currently sell handsets locked to their own networks, while O2, Sky, Three, Virgin Mobile and other smaller providers offer unlocked phones that can be used on any network without issue.
When moving customers across to Active Digital, customers often have to contact their current provider and ask them to unlock their device. In most cases the provider will unlock free of charge, but some customers have had to pay £10-£15 to have a device unlocked. We are so pleased that this added step will be removed. Making it easier for customers to switch mobile networks if they wish to.
In the United Kingdom, we spend around £48m a year unlocking handsets, according to a survey from comparison site Uswitch.
Ofcom’s research found that more than one-third (35 per cent) of people who considered switching mobile networks cited locking complications as a reason that had put them off, with almost half of those who had tried to unlock a phone experiencing problems.
The ban is part of Ofcom’s new rules for the UK reflecting many guidelines in Europe ensuring consumers are treated fairly.
It had been originally scheduled to start on 21 December 2020, but the regulator said it has granted providers an additional 12 months to comply given the “very challenging circumstances” presented by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ofcom said it expects widespread compliance with the new rules, and companies breaking them risk being slapped with heavy fines. Selina Chadha, Ofcom’s connectivity director commented, “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.”
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Active Digital provides a wide range of unlocked devices to work on all mobile networks. For more information or support with unlocking your existing devices, please contact our expert mobile team on 01892 835522. We are here to help.