No mobile network provider will be able to sell locked mobiles from December 2021. A number of United Kingdom mobile networks and MVNOs already have abandoned this practice, however some companies - including BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone - continue to sell locked mobiles.
The UK's communications regulator Ofcom has announced that mobile carriers in the United Kingdom will be prohibited from selling mobile phones that are locked to their network.
Ofcom connectivity director Selina Chadha, said: "We know that lots of people can be put off from switching because their handset is locked".
Unlocking barriers to switching: we are banning phone companies from selling locked mobile handsets.
Vodafone confirmed it will comply, saying "We stand ready to implement these changes when they come into force", while EE, UK's largest network, said: "We'll work with Ofcom to comply with its guidelines".
Consumers can choose to unlock the device, but it usually requires contacting the network provider or paying a shop to do it for you.
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It typically costs about £10 to get a smartphone unlocked to let it work on any network.
It will apply to all networks, although some firms already offer the devices they sell unlocked.
Facilitating switching between broadband providers - the guidance behind this rule is still being laid out, and it will not come into force until December 2022.
According to Ofcom, these providers have said that they lock devices to protect the subsidy they have invested in them.
Other measures include the right to have a summary of the main terms of a contract in writing before signing up.
Industry regulator Ofcom - which is responsible for the rule change - says nearly half of customers who try to unlock their device experience difficulties doing so, with more than a third of people put off attempting to switch. The idea is to make it harder for users to switch networks, with users having to approach the operator directly (or a third party) to "unlock" the device, often for a fee. Accessible communications formats such as braille must always be available when requested from the same date, in December of 2021.