Mobile phone companies are to be banned from selling devices which are “locked” into specific networks, the communications regulator has ruled.

Ofcom said the likes of BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone will be told to follow their other big name rivals in only supplying phones which allow customers to switch from one network to another while keeping their existing handset.

The rules will come into effect from December 2021.

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.”

Mobile phone stock
Mobile phone companies will no longer be allowed to sell ‘locked’ handsets from December 2021 (Philip Toscano/PA)

Currently, companies such as BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone still sell mobile phones which cannot be used on other networks unless they are unlocked.

Customers can unlock their phones, although it costs money to do so.

Ofcom said it expects widespread compliance with the new rules, and companies breaking them risk being slapped with heavy fines.





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