Ofcom has announced major changes to the process, meaning that customers will be able to switch between operators simply by sending a text message.
"For more than a decade Three has been encouraging Ofcom to do more to ensure that consumers can easily switch mobile phone provider and get the best deal", said a Three spokesperson.
'Customers will control how much contact they have with their current mobile provider, preventing companies from delaying and frustrating the switching process'.
The regulator has addressed a problem faced by many phone users (nearly 40% of them) who say they have experienced a major difficulty and seven out of 10 have had at least one issue in switching providers.
The industry will need to set up the new short codes for people to text and be able to send instant automated responses to switching requests, as well as new billing arrangements to end notice-period double payments. This could cost network providers a bit in the short-term but Ofcom reckons there'll be long-term efficiency benefits for telecoms companies, which should mean consumer doesn't end up footing the bill in the form of hiked-up contract prices.
Ofcom said the changes would come into effect in 18 months and make it quicker and easier for individuals and businesses to leave their mobile company. The new rules will save consumers around £10m annually, Ofcom suggested.
The sweeping reforms introduced by Ofcom will enable customers to text their mobile providers to receive a code to change. Think of it as a Porting Authorization Code (PAC code), but for your entire account. The network is required to immediately reply with either a PAC or cancellation code, along with any details of outstanding or early termination charges.
The new system will require networks to start coordinating with the competition a bit better, and change their existing infrastructure to accommodate it.
If you have already scanned through the diagram above you will notice another welcome change; the end of paying for old and new services at the same time - AKA the notice period. Each switchover code will be valid for 30 days, and networks will need to publish clear instructions on how everything works.
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