Out-Law News 1 min. read

Ofcom outlines 'text-to-switch' plans for mobile market

Mobile phone customers in the UK would be able to arrange to switch their network provider by text message under new plans outlined by the industry regulator.

Ofcom said the 'text-to-switch' plans would apply to both consumer and business customers of mobile providers. A consultation on the proposals (117-page / 1.81MB PDF) is open until 30 June. 

"In this consultation, we are proposing a mobile switching process which would remove the need for consumers to speak to their old provider," Ofcom said. "It would enable consumers to request the unique code they need to switch mobile providers, via text or online, whether they keep their mobile number or not, rather than having to call their provider." 

Under the plans, customers would only have to contact their new provider once to ensure their old number is transferred to the new service or to cancel their service from their old provider.

Mobile customers would also avoid double-charging when switching, and save customers up to £10 million in total a year, Ofcom said. 

"We are also proposing that mobile operators should not be able to charge consumers to pay for a notice period once the consumer has switched mobile provider," the regulator said. "This will avoid consumers paying for a service they no longer receive after the switch date, and will make it easier to switch without worrying about notice periods." 

Ofcom said it is "unnecessarily difficult" at the moment to switch mobile provider. Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, said: “We want people and businesses to benefit from simpler, speedier mobile switching, making it easier for them to vote with their feet and take advantage of choice in the market. Our ‘text-to-switch’ plans would give greater control to mobile customers about when and how they switch, and prevent losing providers from delaying and frustrating the switching process." 

Ofcom said, following the conclusion of its consultation, it will outline its formal plans on the switching policy in the autumn this year.

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