The UK bans the sale of coded phones. The UK wants a law to ban the sale of phones that do not allow more than one particular network on them.
Mobile networks such as O2, Sky, Three and Virgin Mobile have already started selling decoded phones. But Ofcom wants BT Mobile / EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone to do the same.
Ofcom also wants the networks to provide clear details, whether or not the phones are locked.
How did the sale of coded phones work?
While O2, Virgin and Three sold coded phones a few years ago, they recently started selling the unencoded ones. In contrast to these telephone networks, BT Mobile sold unlocked phones until February 2018. Then the network switched to a blocking policy, similar to the German EE network.
BT Mobile and EE charge certain fees for unlocking the phones before the end of the contract, but only after 6 months from its conclusion. Vodafone unlocks the phone free of charge after 3 months from the contract.
Tesco Mobile also unlocks the phone free of charge at any time. But for this, customers will pay gradually for one year after purchase.
Even so, half of the British have problems with unlocking their phones. Most of the time, this is due to waiting for an unlock code or getting one that does not work. Some customers claim that they signed contracts for network services until they received the code.
Why the UK wants to ban coded phones
Ofcom wants equality for its customers. The regulatory authority suggests that such issues discourage the British from switching to another network. Over a third of the British people tried to change the network, but gave up because of the coded phones.
So Ofcom comes with two proposals. The first is for operators to sell phones that are already unlocked or to make it so that people can decode them on their own.
The second proposal wants network providers to automatically unlock phones and inform customers through a message. If this is not possible, Ofcom has asked for the release of unlock codes to customers, with instructions on how to unlock their phones after the contract is concluded.
The first option seems much simpler from the point of view of the authorities. The method would avoid wasting time for customers and at the same time they would have the freedom to use SIM cards from other countries.
The proposals will be debated at the beginning of March 2020. If Ofcom decides to ban the blocked phones, this will come into effect one year after its announcement.
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