Mobile firms forced by regulators to make switching providers easier from 2019

Oliver Gill
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The rules will not come into force until 1 July 2019 (Source: Vodafone)

Britons have been promised a slick and easy new way to change mobile phone provider by telecoms regulator Ofcom.

Customers will only need to send one text message to change mobile firm and providers will be banned from charging for notice periods after a switch date.

The reforms follow a package of changes consulted on by Ofcom earlier this year. All mobile operators must adhere to the "auto-switch" regime by 1 July 2019.

“Today’s announcement signals a step change in the mobile switching process, with consumers set to benefit from a more frictionless experience when changing operators. Ultimately, these reforms pave the way for more confident interactions between customers and their service providers," said EY global lead telecommunications analyst Adrian Baschnonga.

Read more: Hate your mobile provider? Soon it could be very simple for you to ditch it

Digital minister Matt Hancock added: "We strengthened Ofcom's power to set these new rules and I'm pleased they're now being put into action to make it easier for consumers to get the best deal."

The smallest of the UK's larger mobile operators, Three mobile, hailed the changes as a victory for customers.

“For more than a decade Three has been encouraging Ofcom to do more to ensure that consumers can easily switch mobile phone provider and get the best deal," said a Three spokesperson.

And while switching websites also welcomed the changes, some lamented the pace of implementation.

Uswitch research suggests the introduction of a text service would more than double the number of people shopping around.

"[But] consumers should not wait until 1 July 2019 to get a better deal," said Uswitch head of regulation Richard Neudegg.

Read more: Lord Adonis calls on Ofcom for urgent plan on "deplorable" mobile services

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