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Ofcom’s new rules for easier mobile switching come into force

Mobile users can now leave their operator with a single text message.

Background: Ofcom has recently taken several initiatives to strengthen consumers’ ability to change operator and ensure they get the best possible deal. For example, it has required operators to notify customers when their contracts are about to expire, and to grant them the right to walk away at no penalty if the service does not match the promised levels.

The donor-led process was seen as a barrier to switching. Until now, people wanting to switch mobile operator and keep their phone number had to call their current provider to request a porting authorisation code (PAC). That meant that customers could face attempts to persuade them to stay with the existing provider. Ofcom found that this is the biggest obstacle people face to switching.

How does the process change? From 1 July 2019, a ‘text-to-switch’ process is in place for people to leave their mobile company. They will simply request the PAC through a text to a given number (65075 for all operators); operators will have to reply within one minute. The customer will then give the PAC to the new provider. They can also text ‘STAC’ to 75075 if they want a new number, or ‘INFO’ to 85075 if they want information about their current contract without starting the switching process.

Notice-period charges are also banned. Another hurdle switchers face is having to pay their old and new providers at the same time. For this reason, Ofcom has banned mobile providers from charging for notice periods running after the switch date. The regulator estimates this will save UK mobile customers a combined £10m each year.