‘Text to switch’ plans announced for mobile phone users

A group compare phones

Mobile phone users will soon be able to switch providers more easily under new proposals published by Ofcom.

The telecoms regulator says consumers often find it difficult to change between providers due to the complicated process involved. It says around 2.5 million people have experienced an issue when moving between mobile providers - 38% of all switchers.

At present, users must call their existing mobile company to ask for a transfer code – known as a porting authorisation code (PAC) – when they wish to move their number elsewhere. Ofcom says this is a major source of difficulty for consumers.

 

It plans to allow mobile users to move between firms by sending a free text message to their current provider. Customers would then receive a unique code via text to pass on to their new provider which will start the switching process within one working day.

The whole switching process will then be managed by the new provider – this is similar to how current account switching works.

Your existing provider would also be prevented from charging you after this switch date, meaning you will never have to pay for two phone contracts at the same time. This is expected to save consumers collectively around £10 million each year.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, says: “We want people and businesses to benefit from simpler, speedier mobile switching, making it easier for them to vote with their feet and take advantage of choice in the market.

"Our ‘text-to-switch’ plans would give greater control to mobile customers about when and how they switch, and prevent losing providers from delaying and frustrating the switching process.”

Ofcom’s consultation runs until 30 June 2017, with the final plans being announced in the autumn.