Cell companies to be banned from promoting ‘locked’ telephones

At the moment some major mobile phone companies – including BT, EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone – still sell handsets which must be ‘unlocked’ if customers want to switch to a different network. Others such as O2, Sky, Virgin and Three already sell unlocked handsets.

Unlocking a handset in order to switch can cost around £10, and consumers often experience problems such as long waits to be sent a working code to unlock their device, or losing service if they try to switch without realising their phone was locked.

Research from communications watchdog Ofcom has shown that over a third of people who decided not to switch mobile provider said they were put off by the unlocking process. 

As a result, Ofcom will ban mobile companies from selling locked phones from December 2021. This means people who buy a phone from then will be able to switch networks using their existing handset, without unlocking it – though unfortunately if you’ve already bought a locked phone before this you’ll still need to go through the unlocking process. 

See our Cheap Mobile Tips guide for more info on cutting the cost of your mobile phone. 

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