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Ofcom’s new network switching plans: Five things you need to know

Switching mobile networks can be a bit of a pain. You’ve got to call your provider, who will inevitably try to convince you to stay with them. Then you’ll probably have to pay for your old and new contracts at the same time during a set notice period, which can be expensive as well as inconvenient.

Thankfully, Ofcom is launching a new consultation on plans to make this process simpler and less expensive for customers. Read on and we’ll tell you five things you need to know about how Ofcom plans to make switching networks easier.

1) ‘Text–to–switch’

Man texting

The current system of making calls to get a Port Authorisation Code (PAC) can be stressful in itself, as it gives your current provider the opportunity to talk you out of switching.

Ofcom is proposing a new ‘text–to–switch’ service, meaning users could send a single text message to end their existing contract. The text numbers will be standardised across networks, who will have to provide consumers with their PAC or alternative cancellation code immediately.

2) Keep your old number or change to a new one

Replies to the ‘text–to–switch’ number will contain one of two codes. Those wanting to keep their existing phone number will receive a PAC, which can then be passed across to their new network with a minimal amount of fuss.

Anyone who simply wants to switch networks and get a new number will get a cancellation code, which can again be passed across to smooth the switching process. PAC and cancellation codes will be valid for 30 days.

3) No more notice period

Two smartphones

At the moment, there is the chance that when switching mobile providers, consumers are forced to see out a notice period and pay for both their old and new contracts.

Under Ofcom’s new plans, this would be banned, with the end of a contract running from the moment the PAC or cancellation code is passed over to the new network. This could see users up and running within a day.

4) No hidden charges

Obviously, finishing a contract early can mean users incur penalties.

However, networks will be forced to include any cancellation fees or outstanding costs in the initial text message along with the PAC or cancellation code. This means there will be no hidden charges or nasty surprises when that final bill comes through the door.

5) In consultation

Ofcom building

These plans are in consultation until 30th June, so Ofcom won’t be able to force networks to comply with these new plans anytime soon.

In fact, Ofcom says it could take a decade to get these plans in place, meaning that changing networks will almost certainly remain rather clunky for a few years yet.

Category: Features
Tagged: networks
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