HomeInsightsOfcom to introduce new rules banning mobile firms from selling “locked” handsets


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Ofcom explains that some companies, including BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone, still sell mobile phones that cannot be used on other networks unless they are unlocked, a potentially complicated process which can also cost around £10. Ofcom research has found that more than a third (35%) of people who decided against switching said this put them off.

Following consultation, Ofcom has confirmed that mobile companies will be banned from selling locked phones, allowing people to move to a different network with their existing handset, hassle-free. The new rules will come in from December 2021. The ban on selling locked handsets is part of a broad package of measures Ofcom is introducing to make switching easier and to help ensure customers are treated fairly, most of which reflect new European rules. These also include:

  • new rules that mean telecoms customers will get a summary of the main terms of their contract in writing before they sign up; and
  • changes to Ofcom’s accreditation scheme for price comparison tools (see item below), to make sure the information provided by these services is trustworthy, impartial and transparent, while still allowing them to innovate.

To read Ofcom’s news release in full, click here.