Mobile phone companies will be banned from selling locked handsets, under a range of new rules from Ofcom created to make switching suppliers even simpler.
"We know that lots of people can be put off from switching because their handset is locked", explained Selina Chadha, Ofcom's connectivity director.
According to Ofcom, these providers have said that they lock devices to protect the subsidy they have invested in them.
Nearly half of customers who try to unlock their device experience difficulties doing so. Other UK networks including O2, Three, and Virgin already only sell unlocked handsets.
"By freeing cell phone users from locked phones, our plans will save time, effort and money - and help them open a better deal", she said.
The new rules on handset sales will apply from December 2021, with the other changes imposed from mid-2022.
How to stay safe amid the pandemic this Halloween
If the weather is warm enough, treats can also be handed out from the driveway or front lawn to allow for more space and distance. Castel said both trick-or-treaters and hosts should consider having hand sanitizer at the ready throughout the night.
The ban means the United Kingdom remains compliant with wider European rules, but Ofcom noted that it was already looking into the problem before the EU introduced the regulations in 2018.
Under the new measures announced today, people will also get a summary of the main terms of their contract in writing - before they sign up.
The ban on selling locked handsets is part of a wider consultation on making it easier for broadband and mobile customers to switch networks. This will include, for example, contract length and prices, and broadband providers will have to tell customers the minimum internet speeds they can expect. Speaking at the launch of the plan in December 2019, Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom's Consumer Group Director, said that now "Switching mobile provider can be really frustrating".
The regulator says the current system has put some customers off switching.
Ofcom said there would be a broader package of measures to support the switching process.
The new rules, which will become effective from December 2021, will allow consumers to move to a different mobile network while keeping their existing handset, hassle-free, the regulator said.