Over the weekend the government announced that it had finally brokered an agreement with UK mobile network providers to end unlocking fees for mobile phones – delivering a great win for our campaign to Unlock Better Mobile Deals.
This means that you can use a SIM card for any mobile network on your handset once the initial contract period is up. uSwitch estimate that this will collectively save mobile users over £48m per year.
Now when your mobile contract finishes, instead of having a restricted handset knocking around in your kitchen drawer, you ‘ll be able to easily keep your existing handset and move to another cheaper network, or even pass your old mobile onto a friend or family member.
This is all without the hassle or the cost of having to go and get it unlocked.
And for those of you who’d like to get a bit of cash out of your old handsets, there’s also evidence to suggest that having your phone unlocked also helps to increase the resale value of your old phone.
This is not only a big win for all mobile phone users, but also for our campaign supporters, nearly 80,000 of whom joined our call to an end unfair unlocking fees over the past two years. Over that time we slowly saw the debate shift in our favour, as individual operators promised to change their ways, and the government started to recognise there was a problem thanks to the persistence of our supporters.
But the pursuit of improving the mobile market doesn’t stop there. This victory comes as the Digital Economy Bill continues its way through Parliament, in which it looks like it’s going to deliver yet more gains for mobile phone users.
We’re hoping to see the introduction of gaining provider-led switching, meaning that if you want to change mobile provider, you only need to contact the company you want to move to – avoiding that awkward conversation with your existing provider who’s trying to persuade you to stay.
The bill also has measures to improve mobile network coverage and data signals – something that our research with Opensignal shows also needs action and should also be welcome news for the likes of RichardM, who told us:
Where I live in mid Wales there is so little signal anywhere I go that having a smart phone would be a waste of money because I’d rarely get the chance to use it.
So, hopefully over the next few weeks and months we’re going to be seeing some great improvements for mobile phone users, with unlocked handsets, better signals, better data access and hassle-free switching.
Is the ability to get your mobile phone unlocked for free good news for you?