Uswitch welcomes Ofcom mobile switching plans

Mobile users set to switch with just a text

"Our changes will make it quicker and easier for mobile phone users to get a better deal", said Ofcom consumer group director Lindsey Fussell. To help usher in the new age of easy-switching, Ofcom is setting a deadline of July 1st, 2019 so providers can make the necessary changes.

This, the regulator said, will put an end to people paying for old and new services at the same time, saving United Kingdom mobile customers around £10 million a year.

Ofcom said its "easy-switch" process is aimed at removing obstacles people typically face today when trying to change operators, such as the difficulty of contacting their current provider or of coordinating the cancellation of an old contract with the start of a new one.

The industry will need to set up the new short codes for people to text and be able to send instant automated responses to switching requests, as well as new billing arrangements to end notice-period double payments.

The watchdog said the new text message service would be brought in by July 2019, to give providers time to update their systems and co-ordinate it. The new rules are aimed at speeding up the switch process for consumers and businesses.

Under current rules, consumers wishing to keep their current number when switching to a new provider must request their "porting authorisation code" (PAC), which is nine characters long.

The regulator estimates this will save customers around £10m in total each year. Passing on the code to their new provider will switch their service within one working day, with no notice period charges.

The provider's reply must also include important information about any early termination charges, outstanding handset costs, or pay-as-you-go credit balances. The porting code will be valid for 30 days.

Ofcom recognised that the reforms would require mobile operators to make changes to their systems and need coordination between companies.

A Vodafone spokesman said: 'We agree that it should be simple for customers to select the service which best suits them and we are examining Ofcom's announcement.

The new provider will facilitate the switch within one working day, with the old service ending on the same day.

'Customers should not have to pay twice to switch supplier, a change we have already implemented.

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