Drawing from a commercial stunt that sees operators selling smartphones that are locked specifically to their network, the United Kingdom has taken a step to eradicate the practice by banning the sale of carrier-locked phones.

Announcing the to be imposed amendment is communications regulator, Ofcom, who claims the imposition to take effect beginning December 2021, as per the BBC

When in place, the rule will see immediate implementation and will apply to the country’s operators that still sell network-locked phones to consumers: EE, Tesco Mobile, and Vodafone. 

Other operators like Sky, O2, Three, and Virgin, while subject to the same change, have already begun selling unlocked phones. 


While indeed a move that makes the consumer unable to switch networks, operators justify the convention as an effective means in deterring fraud and theft. 

At a business perspective, the tradition of locking phones to a specific network appears to also come with financial benefit to the issuer. In that it provides a means to subsidize the phone on contract, recouping its cost.

Although consumers are still technically able to switch network with a network-locked device, Ofcom says that the procedure typically costs the person £10. 

Half of the time of which causing issues to those who would opt for it, such as having to wait extended periods to wait for the code to unlock the phone or receiving a code that does not work at all.

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