Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020

Mobile networks will be BANNED by Ofcom from selling locked phones

Mobile phone networks including EE, Vodafone and Tesco Mobile will be BANNED from selling locked phones in move by Ofcom to help consumers find better deals

  • Ofcom says the move would make it easier for customers to switch providers
  • O2, Sky, Three and Virgin already sell unlocked handsets to its consumers
  • But BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone phones can’t be switched unless £10 paid

Ofcom will next year ban mobile phone operators from selling locking handsets.

The telecoms watchdog said the move would make it easier for customers to switch providers.

It will come into force in December 2021 and it is hoped to help people get better deals and value for money.

The move will affect BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone, whose devices cannot be used on other networks unless a £10 unlock fee is paid.

O2, Sky, Three and Virgin already sell unlocked handsets.

Ofcom connectivity director Selina Chadha, 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 move is hoped to offer more choice and better services for mobile phone users

Ofcom said people were left frustrated by the difficulties in unlocking a mobile, which can take a long amount of time.

Sky News reports it comes after the regulator’s earlier efforts to making switching easier, via the ‘text-to-switch’ service.

Ofcom will also make operators send customers full details of their contracts before they buy a mobile.

Earlier this month it said it was probing the ‘market position’ of BBC Sounds after its commercial rivals complained of the ‘adverse impact’ the service was having on business.

Vodaphone is one of the companies who still sell phones whose devices are locked

BBC Sounds was launched in 2018 as a ‘digital home’ for audio content – featuring live and on-demand radio, music mixes and podcasts.

But its commercial rivals have since complained about Radio 1 Dance, a new 24-hour dance music stream that will launch on BBC Sounds on October 9, because it is not ‘distinctive’ and does not offer ‘true public service value’.

The new stream will bring together the BBC’s existing dance content in one place, making it easy for listeners to catch their favourite shows outside of traditional schedules.

Ofcom said it would ‘take stock of Sounds at an appropriate point in its evolution’ but refused to conduct a public interest test because ‘we consider the impact of the new stream on the market is likely to be small’.

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