Switching mobile phone provider is set to become easier under plans announced by the telecommunications regulator today.
Currently, mobile users face different processes for switching provider depending on whether they want to keep their existing mobile phone number.
If you want to keep your number, you have to request a PAC (porting authorisation code) by calling your existing provider and then taking it to the provider you want to join.
If you don’t want to keep your number, those on pay-monthly contracts have to cancel the service with their existing provider and then organise a new service with their new provider.
But Ofcom has today announced plans to make it easier for the UK’s 47 million mobile customers to switch.
It will consult on its proposals with a final decision being published this autumn.
What exactly has Ofcom proposed?
Ofcom has outlined two proposals for easier switching. Its preferred option is mobile switching led by the new provider.
Here, customers tell the new provider they want to switch and whether they want to keep their number. The new provider will then organise the switch – meaning customers don’t have to request a PAC or tell their old provider they’re leaving.
The regulator’s second option is an automated PAC request, where you can request a code from your current provider by text or by phone, which you then take to your new provider.
In addition, Ofcom wants to ensure customers don’t temporarily lose service while moving from one provider to another, while it also plans to introduce new measures to help customers avoid double paying where their old and new contracts overlap.
‘We want to make it easier for customers to vote with their feet’
Sharon White, Ofcom chief executive, says: “It is unacceptable for people to be missing out on better mobile deals because they fear the hassle of switching, or are put off having had a poor experience in the past.
“We want mobile customers to benefit from speedier, simpler switching, making it easier for them to vote with their feet and take advantage of choice in the market.”
If you’re unhappy with your mobile phone contract, use billmonitor.com to check your usage, and then use mobilephonechecker.co.uk to compare prices and find the right deal for you.
Before switching, check whether you’ll need to pay any exit fees.
Today’s news comes as only yesterday Apple announced the forthcoming launch of its latest handset, the iPhone SE.
See How to cut mobile costs if you want to get the cheapest deal on the iPhone 6S or the Samsung S7.