UK could ban the sales of locked phones
Locked phones might soon be a thing of the past in the UK as the country’s communications regulator — Ofcom — is proposing a rule to ban carriers from selling phones that are locked to their network. Currently, carriers like O2, Sky, Three, Virgin Mobile, along with some smaller carriers offer unlocked phones. However, carriers like BT Mobile/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone don’t offer unlocked phones in the country. With the new rule, Ofcom aims to change that and prompt such carriers to offer customers better clarity regarding the locked/unlocked status of their devices.
As reported by Engadget, Ofcom wants to level the playing field to give users a better experience. Research indicates that around 50 percent of people in the country face issues while unlocking their devices. The problems arise due to long wait times for unlock codes or faulty unlock codes that further delay the process. Customers have even claimed that they lost service until they received an unlock code to switch between carriers. Ofcom suggests that problems like these can discourage customers from switching to another network.
To fix the issue, Ofcom has proposed two approaches. The regulatory authority wants carriers to either seel devices that are already unlocked or make it easier for customers to unlock their devices themselves. As part of the second option, the authority wants carriers to unlock devices automatically and inform customers over text. In case that’s not possible, Ofcom wants network providers to proactively send unlock codes along with directions to help customers.
Due to the complexities posed by the second option, the regulator prefers the first option which would save customers both time and effort. Ofcom is currently holding a consultation on its proposal that runs until early March. If the authority decides to ban locked devices, the ban will be imposed 12 months after its announcement.
Source: Ofcom consultation