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Mobile Phone Users Will Soon Be Able to Switch Provider with a Text Message


From next week mobile phone users will be able to switch network simply by sending a free text message.

The Text to Switch system, which goes live 1 July, is expected to save Britons more than £300 million by encouraging them to switch provider and not stick with expensive out of contract pricing.

Ofcom first proposed the system in 2018 and gave mobile phone providers 18 months to implement it.

Now, from Monday, mobile phone users will be able to send a single, free text message to their network if they want to switch providers. They will then immediately be sent a porting authority (PAC) code, if they wish to keep their current phone number, or a cancellation code, if they want a new number.

Customers then pass the code onto their new provider when they sign up. The service will be switched within one day. The old service will end on that day and consumers won’t face notice period charges.

Changed you mind? Simply requesting a code won’t end your contract. It won’t be impacted until you give the code to another provider. The code will simply expire after 30 days.

Not keen on texting? You can also request the switching codes online or over the phone.

Text to Switch is intended to streamline switching for customers. According to Ofcom research, two in five mobile switchers—or 2.5 million people—have encountered at least one major problem problems when switching, with seven in ten encountering at least some difficulty.

Consumers have encountered difficulties cancelling their current service or getting the necessary information from their provider. Others have struggled to transport their current number to their new handset or been frustrated with their provider’s call centres or websites.

Additionally, customers looking to switch or cancel their contracts often had to phone their provider and be subject to lengthy sales pitches before leaving. Text to Switch eliminates any contact with the customer’s current provider beyond a simple text message.

Ofcom hopes the ease of the process will encourage mobile phone customers to hop onto new deals more frequently and avoid overpaying. According to market research, at least 15% of mobile phone customers are out of contract with their providers, because they failed to sign up to a new contract and are facing steep out of contract rates.

These customers are paying an estimated £27.4 million a month too much on their mobile phone contract. That’s a collective £325 million a year.

Furthermore, the end of notice period charges with Text to Switch is expected to spare customers from paying for old and new services simultaneously, putting £10 million back in consumer’s wallets.

“Too many people are put off by the hassle of switching mobile provider. Our changes will make it quicker and easier for mobile phone users to get a better deal,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, when the policy was announced in December 2017.

“Customers will control how much contact they have with their current mobile provider, preventing companies from delaying and frustrating the switching process,” she said.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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