Unlocked handsets could soon be the ONLY type you can buy

Regulator Ofcom is looking into a ban on the sale of phones which are locked to particular networks. Networks that currently don’t lock their phones include Sky Mobile, Three UK, iD Mobile, BT Mobile and giffgaff; but other networks do.

The origins of this came from the fact that handsets subsidised part of the upfront costs. Offering an expensive phone for “free” would attract customers, and the network-locking would in theory stop people immediately hopping across to another network.

You can unlock your phone easily via a request to your network, but Ofcom now want to see the end of locked phones. EE, O2, Tesco Mobile, Vodafone and some Virgin Mobile handsets are provided locked, and the regulator has found that almost half of customers find the whole unlocking process difficult.

Ofcom consumer group director Lindsey Fussell tells us…

By freeing mobile users from locked handsets, our plans would save people time, effort and money – and help them unlock a better deal.

Three welcomed the plan and are pushing for Ofcom to enforce it as soon as possible.