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Ofcom proposes ‘text-to-switch’ mobile provider plan

Manny Pham
May 19, 2017

Customers will be able to drop a mobile provider by simply sending a text message

Ofcom is today (April 19) proposing reforms to speed up the process of switching operators.

Under the ‘text-to-switch’ plan subscribers and businesses will be able to leave with a simple text message.

The losing network will send a PAC code (or cancellation code if a phone number is not transferred) to pass onto the new provider. Ofcom predicts the switching process will only take up one working day.

Operators will be banned from charging notice periods that run over the switch date, which can save mobile customers £10 million a year according to the regulatory body.

According to Ofcom research, speaking to providers to switch providers is “one of the major causes of difficulties” for switchers. Additionally, around 2.5 million people who changed mobile providers said they encountered at least one major problem when switching.

Ofcom’s previous switching plan the ‘one-stop’ process, where the responsibility of the switch is placed upon the new mobile provider, will be superseded by ‘text-to-switch’.

The body found ‘text-to-switch’ to be cheaper to implement at £44 million oppose to £87 million for ‘one-stop’. Doing so will “minimise any potential impact on customer bills”.


A Three spokesperson told Mobile News: “We are disappointed that Ofcom is not proposing a move to gaining provider led (GPL) switching. It is clear that having the gaining provider managing the switch will provide the greatest benefit to consumers and enable real ease of switching.

Only under GPL can you ensure that the best deals are not kept for consumers who wish to leave their existing network.” 

However, Carphone Warehouse marketing director Dean Kramer welcomes the proposals, according to research from the retailer “one in four people believe switching networks is too complicated”.

“Our customers save an average of £152 when changing provider so we hope that the proposal is adopted by the industry, making it easier for everyone to get a better deal,” Kramer added.


Next steps

A consultation on the proposal will be open until June 30, 2017. A final decision is expected to be made in autumn this year.

Ofcom consumer group director Lindsey Fussell said: “We want people and businesses to benefit from simpler, speedier mobile switching, making it easier for them to vote with their feet and take advantage of choice in the market.

“Our ‘text-to-switch’ plans would give greater control to mobile customers about when and how they switch, and prevent losing providers from delaying and frustrating the switching process.”


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