Ban on ‘locked’ mobile handsets

Ofcom has published a range of new rules that it says will make switching mobile networks simpler. Under the new rules, mobile phone companies will be banned from selling ‘locked’ handsets.

Whilst less common than a few years ago, many major mobile network operators – including EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone – still sell mobile phones that cannot be used on other networks unless they are unlocked. This can be a complicated process and costs around £10.

Ofcom said its own research found that more than a third (35%) of people who decided against switching said the need to unlock their phone put them off.

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.”

The new rules will come into force from December 2021.