Published: Wed, December 20, 2017
Sci-tech | By Eric Barnett

Ofcom: Mobile Users Will Be Able To Switch With A Single SMS

Ofcom: Mobile Users Will Be Able To Switch With A Single SMS

Consumers will be able to switch mobile phone providers by sending a text message under reforms set out by the communications regulator.

"Our own research from earlier this year found that while one in five thought text-to-switch would make them more likely to switch provider, more than double would have been encouraged to change under a gaining-provider led process, the alternative system that Ofcom decided against", said Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at price comparison service uSwitch.

Under the changes, operators will no longer be able to charge for notice periods running after the switch date, so customers will no longer have to pay bills from two companies.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom's consumer group director, said the new rules would stop companies from "delaying and frustrating" the process. 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.

Mobile customers also waste around £10 million each year on paying for the end of an old service whose billing period continues after they already have a new provider, Ofcom said. Think of it as a Porting Authorization Code (PAC code), but for your entire account.

Mobile operators will have to set up "short codes" enabling people to text for free switching and provide immediate automated responses.

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Even better, once the code has been processed your old contract will terminate immediately, effectively ending any confusion or additional charges that might arise from the usual 30-day notice periods.

The current process sees those who want to transfer their number to a new network having to call their current provider to request a "porting authorisation code", and give this to the company they plan to join.

For the system to work, all of the UK's mobile operators will need to make changes to their systems and co-ordinate with one another. The new rules will save consumers around £10m annually, Ofcom suggested.

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 switching has to be completed within one business day for consumers for two working days for businesses.

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