Ofcom has announced new proposals which would stop mobile phone companies from selling handsets locked to a specific carrier. It cited BT/EE, Tesco Mobile, and Vodafone as carriers that continue with the practice which forces customers to pay around £10 to unlock their device to move to another carrier.
The proposal is part of new plans to make switching providers easier; its research found that currently just under half of customers find unlocking a phone difficult to do. The regulator said some issues people run into include waiting a long time before getting an unlock code, finding that the code doesn’t work, or suffering a loss of service because they didn’t realise the device was locked before switching.
Commenting on the proposed ban on locked handsets, Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said:
“Switching mobile provider can be really frustrating. By freeing mobile users from locked handsets, our plans would save people time, effort and money – and help them unlock a better deal.”
Aside from giving customers more freedom about who they choose to be their carrier, Ofcom also proposed that 999 (emergency service) video calls should be made possible. It said that this would mean British Sign Language (BSL) users could call for help more easily. It said an interpreter in a call centre would be able to handle BSL calls more quickly and accurately, benefiting deaf users and the emergency services.
As these are just proposals right now, no date has been given for when they’d be implemented. Hopefully, customers won't have to wait long for these rules to become a reality.