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Plans to improve mobile switching are unveiled

Plans to improve mobile switching are unveiled

Category: Mobile Phones

Updated: 28/07/2015
First Published: 28/07/2015

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Do you wish it was easier to switch mobile phone provider? It can sometimes be difficult to know where to start, particularly as there are different processes depending on whether you want to keep your existing phone number or not, but happily, that could soon change.

The regulator is stepping in

Industry regulator Ofcom has outlined plans to make it easier for consumers to change their mobile phone provider, whether they choose keep their number or not. As it stands, Ofcom believes that the process may cause confusion and increases the perception that switching is hard, which could, in turn, discourage consumers from switching and mean they miss out on the best deals.

As such, a consultation has been launched into a range of mobile switching options, including a process (known as 'gaining provider led' switching) that places the responsibility for the switch entirely in the hands of the new provider. This means that the customer wouldn't need to contact their current provider to switch, unless of course they wanted to, which could avoid them being placed under unnecessary pressure.

In addition, Ofcom is considering simplifying the process for obtaining the 'porting authorisation code' (or PAC) that allows a customer to keep their existing number, something that could further improve the perception of switching. Ultimately, it's hoped that any improvements to the switching process will encourage consumers to reconsider their options if they're not happy with their current level of service, something that could subsequently encourage competition between providers themselves.

The current system – and the changes to come

Currently, consumers typically have to deal with their existing provider to stop their current service as well as organise a new one with the new provider, but there are concerns that some operators can make this difficult. This makes it "unnecessarily hard for consumers to switch", said the regulator, which perhaps goes some way to explaining why switching rates for mobile services have fallen from 9% to 6% between 2013 and 2014.

It's hoped that the plans – which are now open for consultation – will lead to a simpler, more effective process for switching communication services, following on from last month's drive to improve broadband switching for those who aren't getting the necessary speed.

Sharon White, Ofcom chief executive, commented: "Consumers should be able to switch their mobile providers with minimum hassle to take advantage of the best deals on the market. Ofcom has recently made switching easier for millions of broadband users, and we are now focusing on improving the process for mobile customers."

The regulator will now accept feedback on the consultation until October, and if necessary, will consult on more detailed reform options for mobile switching next spring. It's hoped that any resulting reforms will be finalised and brought into effect soon after, so hopefully, there won't be long to wait until you can switch mobile provider with ease.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.