Mobile customers will in future be able to switch networks simply by sending a text message after telecoms regulator Ofcom unveiled a major overhaul of switching and number porting rules.
Ofcom said its "easy-switch" process is aimed at removing obstacles people typically face today when trying to change operators, such as the difficulty of contacting their current provider or of coordinating the cancellation of an old contract with the start of a new one.
In addition, Ofcom says providers will also be banned from charging for notice periods that run after the switching date. As a result of the changes, Ofcom says it will be saving United Kingdom consumers around £10 million each year due to the ban on notice periods. "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.
Communications regulator Ofcom has introduced new rules to help speed-up the process of switching from one mobile provider to another.
Consequently, Ofcom's new proposals are set to come into force by July 1 2019 at the latest. Under the new process, operators must provide customers immediately with a number porting code, port the number within one day and can not charge for any notice period.
The new procedure doesn't invalidate obligations such as early termination charges, outstanding handset costs or pay-as-you-go credit balances, which must be included in the response text from the current operator.
Ofcom recognised that the reforms would require mobile operators to make changes to their systems and need coordination between companies.
Under the incoming rules, a user who wants to switch can now send one of two codes (which will be identical across all providers) to their current service provider, either by free text, email, or phone call.
The changes have been created to make the switching process significantly easier for customers, as providers often go to great lengths to persuade unsatisfied customers to stay.
When the customer is ready to switch, they give the code to their new provider, and the number is ported within one working day. Each switchover code will be valid for 30 days, and networks will need to publish clear instructions on how everything works.
'Customers should not have to pay twice to switch supplier, a change we have already implemented.