Ofcom has announced that phone resellers will no longer be able to sell locked phones in the UK. The new regulation comes into effect from December 2021, with the aim of making it easier for consumers to switch network providers.
The announcement comes almost a year after the UK regulatory body revealed that it would be entering a consultation period to discuss plans to ban locked phones.
Currently, EE, BT Mobile, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone all sell phones locked to their networks that can’t be used on another network provider without requesting for it to be unlocked.
That in itself can be a hassle and isn’t always free. Ofcom says that its research suggested that around one-third of people who decided not to switch providers did so because they were put off by the phone unlocking process.
The move itself is one of many Ofcom has introduced to reflect new European rules, and is there to ensure that customers face no challenging hurdles or barriers when they try to switch provider.
Having an unlocked phone also means it’s easier to sell the device after you’re done with it, and that consumers won’t need to worry about only handing it down or selling it on to someone on the same network.
Once the rule comes into place at the end of next year, you’ll be able to swap any UK network SIM in and out of your phone, or – if your phone has dual-SIM support – use two different carriers in the same device, even if you buy the phone from Vodafone or EE. This is a major win for UK consumers.