What are the new rules for switching mobile network providers in the UK?

What are the new rules for switching mobile network providers in the UK?

Until recently, changing your mobile network involved jumping through a series of unnecessarily complicated hoops – including putting in a call to your previous provider to cancel your contract, asking them to send through your ‘porting authorization code’ (PAC) and then shopping around for a new tariff that better suits you needs.

Thankfully, the UK’s telecoms regulator – Ofcom – has decided that this switching process is too complicated and that the procedure of leaving network companies was discouraging consumers from switching to new contracts. This meant mobile customers were missing out on big savings – users can save up to £287 when switching to a new deal when their contract ends.

This new process of switching is designed to encourage more consumers to interact with the smartphone market. Instead of putting in a call to their outgoing mobile provider, consumers are now able to just drop them a text to start the transferal process. Removing the need to call their provider also helps customers avoid awkward conversations with the sales team asking them to stay.

For customers looking to hang onto their current number when moving to a new provider, they will need to request their PAC number – they can do this by texting ‘PAC’ to 65075 to begin the process. Their current mobile operator will then send a text within a minute, and this code will be valid for 30 days. You can then give this number to your new provider, and they must arrange for the switch-over to be completed within one working day.

Mobile users who would like a new number need to text ‘STAC’ to 75075 to receive their ‘service termination authorization code’, before following the same process as above.

Ofcom has helpfully also setup an information line, allowing customers to find out whether they are still in contract with their provider or if they would have to pay charges to leave their contract early. To access this information without requesting a switching code, consumers need to simply text ‘INFO’ to 85075. This is especially useful as providers can charge mobile users for leaving their contracts early, which typically involves users ‘buying out’ their contract by paying off the remaining months left on their package.        

These changes follow other recent announcements from Ofcom, which aims to improve transparency and fairness in the mobile and broadband markets, including having to tell customers when their contracts are up and what better deals could be available.

What do you think of the way that you can move to a new mobile network provider? Would you be keen for such service to be adopted in countries outside the UK? If you would like more information on similar topics you can read these previous posts: