UK regulator Ofcom proposed a ban on operators selling locked devices, a move it argued would enable customers to switch providers easier.
In a statement, Ofcom highlighted EE, Vodafone UK, and MVNO Tesco Mobile as operators which still sell locked mobile phones. Customers can unlock their phones with a code from their original operator, but potentially face charges of around £10 to do, the regulator said.
O2 UK, 3 UK, Sky Mobile and Virgin Mobile were listed as operators which don’t sell locked devices.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom consumer group director, said the plan would “save people time, effort and money, and help them unlock a better deal”.
In statements sent to Mobile World Live, EE and Vodafone denied Ofcom’s claim regarding end-of-contract fees. An EE representative said new smartphones are initially locked to protect customers from fraud, with iPhones and Google Pixel models automatically unlocking at the end of contracts.
Vodafone said it had not charged customers to unlock devices for the last two years.
O2 and 3 welcomed the proposal, with the latter urging Ofcom to implement the plan as soon as possible.
Ofcom explained the proposal is part of its work to implement rules defined in the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC), which was passed in December 2018 and is set to be implemented in European Union member states by end-2020.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back