mobile phones

Good news for users of mobile phones, as regulator Ofcom will forbid mobile networks from locking phones in December 2021

In a move that many frustrated customers will embrace, the regulatory body has been looking into the problem since 2018. 

Arguing that switching to other operators at the end of their contract was unnecessarily complicated. Ofcom said that making unlocked phones the standard will give customers greater flexibility and choice when it comes to choosing new contracts. 

Current issues with locked mobile phones

The price for unlocking a mobile phone from third-party vendors currently costs around £10. But in a recent study Ofcom found that approximately half of people who try to unlock their phone experience difficulty in doing so.

In order to unlock phones, third-party vendors send a special code to a users phone. This needs to be correctly entered. 

However, people attempting to unlock their phone often have to wait a long time for the code to come through, the code doesn’t come through at all or it simply doesn’t work when they receive it.

Ofcom estimates that around 35% of people are put off from switching network operators due to the difficulty in unlocking a phone.

Much needed change

Operators have long argued that locked phones help deter theft and fraud. Yet some UK vendors have already abandoned the practice of locking phones. O2, Sky, Three and Virgin already only sell unlocked handsets.

But that’s not all.

The locked handsets ban is part of several sweeping new measures to the telecoms industry. That will also make it easier for consumers to decide on new handsets and contracts.

These measures include:

  • an obligation to provide communications in accessible formats – such as braille – when requested. This must also be done by December 2021
  • giving customers a stronger right to leave if changes are made to deals that they were not told about before signing. This will come into force in June 2022
  • a requirement that customers be shown a clear summary of a contract’s key parts before joining. This must happen by June 2022
  • In addition, the regulator plans to make it easier to switch broadband providers by December 2022.

If you are concerned about unlocking a handset or want to find how to switch broadband supplier, then please feel free to get in touch today.