Mobile phone companies will be banned from supplying devices “locked” into specific networks, the communications regulator has ruled.
Ofcom said networks such as BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone will be told to follow rivals in only supplying phones which allow customers to switch from one network to another while keeping their existing handset.
The rules will come into effect from December 2021.
Ofcom said it expects widespread compliance with the new rules, and companies breaking them risk being slapped with heavy fines.
Selina Chadha, Ofcom’s connectivity director, said: “We know that lots of people can be put off from switching because their handset is locked.
“So we’re banning mobile companies from selling locked phones, which will save people time, money and effort – and help them unlock better deals.”
Currently, firms such as BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone offer mobile phones which cannot be used on other networks unless they are unlocked.
Users can unlock their phones, although it costs money to do so.