Mobile phone customers will be able to switch their supplier by sending a simple text message from 2019, under changes being imposed by the telecoms regulator.
Ofcom said consumers and businesses currently face a series of potential hurdles when attempting to change supplier – with 2.5 million affected by issues including “unwanted attempts to persuade you to stay”.
The current process sees those who want to transfer their number to a new network having to call their current provider to request a ‘porting authorisation code’, and give this to the company they plan to join.
Image: Ofcom has released this graphic to explain the new ‘switch by text’ service.
The watchdog said the new text message service would be brought in by July 2019, to give providers time to update their systems and co-ordinate it.
Companies will also be banned from charging for notice periods running after the switch date.
Ofcom said that would stop customers paying for old and new services at the same time, saving them around £10m collectively per year.
Consumer group director Lindsey Fussell said: “Too many people are put off by the hassle of switching mobile provider.
“Our changes will make it quicker and easier for mobile phone users to get a better deal.
“Customers will control how much contact they have with their current mobile provider, preventing companies from delaying and frustrating the switching process.”
A Vodafone spokesperson responded: “We agree that it should be simple for customers to select the service which best suits them and we are examining Ofcom’s announcement.
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“Customers should not have to pay twice to switch supplier, a change we have already implemented.
“Proper provision also needs to be made for customers on ‘bundled’ packages, as well as those wanting to switch to forthcoming fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband services.”