Mobile users will be able to switch providers with a simple, free text under new rules.
At the moment you need to phone your provider in order to switch to an alternative network. It is currently also necessary to phone your provider in order to get hold of a porting authorisation code (PAC), which allows you to keep your number.
However this is set to change under new rules, as Ofcom has ruled that the need to speak to somebody on the phone is a major factor in people not switching. This is because customers are often reluctant to deal with representatives from the companies trying to persuade them to stay.
The new text system is designed to make this process easier and quicker for the customer, as well as allowing them to decide how much contact they have with their mobile company.
How to change provider by text
Customers who want to switch and keep their phone number need to text ‘PAC’ to 65075 to start the process. Their existing provider will then respond by text within a minute
The customer will then be sent a switching code (PAC), which will be valid for 30 days The provider's reply must also include information about any early termination charges or pay-as-you-go credit balances
The customer then gives the code to their new provider, and this company must arrange for the switch to take place within one working day
Most people want to keep their mobile number when they switch. However, the one in six that do not can text ‘STAC’ to 75075 to request a "service termination authorisation code".
Fines for those who do not comply
Ofcom has said that the new rule is designed to tackle the main reasons people do not change mobile providers even when they want to. These include concerns about paying for both providers during an overlap period while switching, as well as reluctance to talk to company employees.
Network providers that do not abide by the new rules could face fines.