Switching mobile networks is about to become much easier under new proposals from Ofcom

Lynsey Barber
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Swapping to another network will become easier

Changing your mobile phone provider is about to become much easier.

Regulators have put forward new proposals to make switching networks easier for customers. Ofcom has suggested two options, its preferred one being the new provider handling the switch.

"It is unacceptable for people to be missing out on better mobile deals because they fear the hassle of switching, or are put off having had a poor experience in the past," said Ofcom chief Sharon White.

“We want mobile customers to benefit from speedier, simpler switching, making it easier for them to vote with their feet and take advantage of choice in the market.”

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A second option could be that customers are able to quickly and easily request the PAC number via an automated request via text or online. The process of getting a PAC, which is needed to keep a phone number, is currently different among providers.

The UK's more than 47m mobile customers stand to benefit from the changes. Around 2.5m people switched mobile companies last year and nearly two in five said they experienced major problems during the process, according to Ofcom's research.

The new proposals also mean that people switching will not have down time when their phone doesn't work or get charged twice if the switch overlaps billing periods.

A final decision on which option to go with will be made this autumn after a consultation.

The move was met with resounding support from comparison websites working with customers who wish to switch.

"I’m elated that Ofcom is finally looking to expose the convoluted switching process for what it is – not merely a series of laborious administrative hoops, but a set of sticking points designed to actively dissuade us from switching provider," said Cable.co.uk's Dan Howdle.

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"This gaining provider-led system was put in place for broadband customers last year, and we have noticed a significant drop in reported switching problems since that time."

USwitch's Ernest Doku said: “The major problem with a market where the operator you’re trying to leave handles your switch, is they have no incentive to make it easy."

“A gaining provider led model should spell the end of the best deals being kept under the table, only appearing when you threaten to leave - not unlike a Marrakesh souk. All customers should be able to see those offers, rather than being reserved for those who haggle," he added.

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