The United Kingdom (UK) will ban the sale of carrier-locked smartphones starting in December 2021. The ban is being imposed by UK telecom operator Ofcom to make the process of switching between operators easier for people, which otherwise is a cumbersome task.
Telecom operators in the UK, such as BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone, sell smartphones with a carrier lock. This means that when a customer buys a smartphone through these carriers, they cannot use a SIM card from another operator. To switch to a different operator, users need to get their carrier phones unlocked, which is a complicated process and can also cost around £10. The regulator states that more than a third of people who decided against switching said this put them off.
Furthermore, almost half of the customers who try to unlock their phone have difficulties doing so. For example, they might experience a long delay before getting the code they need to unlock their phone; the code might not work, or they could suffer a loss of service if they did not realise their phone was locked before they tried to switch.Therefore, the telco watchdog has announced that mobile companies will be banned from selling locked phones. This will make the process of people moving to a different network with their existing device hassle-free. The new rules will come in from December 2021.