You are here: Home - Household Bills - News -

‘Text-to-switch’ service announced by regulator

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Mobile phone customers will be able to switch provider by simply sending a free text message, the communication regulator has announced.

Under the Ofcom plans, phone users won’t need to speak to their current provider to switch service. Instead from 1 July 2019, they can send a text message or go online to request a code for the switch to complete within one working day.

Under the new rules, mobile providers will be banned from charging for notice periods running after the switch date. This will stop people paying for old and new services at the same time – saving mobile customers around £10m in total each year.

The move comes as Ofcom found that two in five mobile switchers – 2.5 million people – said they experienced as least one major problem during the switching process. They said the biggest hurdle in changing provider is having to speak to a current supplier that often attempts to persuade them to stay.

It said this will “give customers control over contact with their existing provider”, making the switching process “quicker and easier for people and businesses to leave their mobile company”.

How will the ‘text-to-switch’ service work?

Currently, when a customer wants to transfer their number to a new provider, they usually have to call their provider to request a ‘porting authorisation code’ (PAC), and give this to the provider they plan to join. If a monthly contract customer doesn’t want to keep their number, they must cancel their service with their existing provider and set up a new contract with the new provider.

Under the new plans, after requesting the switching code, the onus is on the new provider to switch the customer and for the process to be completed in one working day.

People will text one of two memorable short codes, depending on whether or not they want to keep their mobile number. All mobile providers will have to use the same short codes.

The old provider will need to respond immediately by text – with either a PAC or a cancellation code for those who want a new number. For businesses, they will get this code within two working days.

The provider’s reply must also include information on any early termination charges, outstanding handset costs, or pay-as-you-go credit balances.

Ofcom said the switching code will be valid for 30 days so a customer will be able to pass it on to their new provider at the point they place an order for their new service.

However, given the fact that providers will need to make substantial changes to their systems, Ofcom said there will be an 18-month implementation period.

Preventing a frustrating switch experience

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, 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.”

Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at, said the steps are encouraging, but added: “Consumers shouldn’t wait until 1 July 2019 to get a better deal. If you’re out of contract you can switch now and save up to £98 a year – and you might even benefit from improved service too.”

There are 0 Comment(s)

If you wish to comment without signing in, click your cursor in the top box and tick the 'Sign in as a guest' box at the bottom.

Your right to a refund if travel is affected by train strikes

There have been a wave of train strikes in the past six months, and for anyone travelling today Friday 3 Febru...

Could you save money with a social broadband tariff?

Two-thirds of low-income households are unaware they could be saving on broadband, according to Uswitch.

How to help others and donate to food banks this winter

This winter is expected to be the most challenging yet for the food bank network as soaring costs push more pe...

What will happen if rates change

How your finances will be impacted by a rise in interest rates.

Regular Savings Calculator

Small regular contributions can build up nicely over time.

Online Savings Calculator

Work out how your online savings can build over time.

DIY investors: 10 common mistakes to avoid

For those without the help and experience of an adviser, here are 10 common DIY investor mistakes to avoid.

Mortgage down-valuations: Tips to avoid pulling out of a house sale

Down-valuations are on the rise. So, what does it mean for home buyers, and what can you do?

Five tips for surviving a bear market mauling

The S&P 500 has slipped into bear market territory and for UK investors, the FTSE 250 is also on the edge. Her...

Money Tips of the Week