Mobile phone companies will be banned from selling locked devices from December next year to make it easier for customers to switch to a different network – but retain their existing handset.
The move, which follows a consultation, is part of a wider package of measures announced today by Ofcom designed to make switching simpler and fairer.
Unlevel playing field
Currently, BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone still sell locked phones, which means they won’t work on rival networks unless they are actively unlocked.
However, the unlocking process, which costs around £10, can be complicated says Ofcom – with almost half of customers running into problems.
These include long delays before receiving the required code to complete the process and/or the code not working. Some customers are also unaware their phone was locked before they tried to switch, resulting in a temporary loss of service.
Ofcom is also set to improve the broadband switching process – the ease of which can currently vary between provider.
For example, customers looking to move between networks such as BT, SKY and TalkTalk on Openreach’s copper network, can contact their provider direct which will manage the switch.
But customers moving to other networks including Virgin Media, City Fibre, Gigaclear and Hyperoptic, must manage the process themselves, which also means ensuring there are no gaps in service.
More details on broadband switching will be released after consultation, said Ofcom.
Pay TV and landline telephones will also be included in Ofcom’s raft of new rules which reflect a change in European law intended to help make switching services easier, and ensure customers are treated fairly.