Mobile phone laws are changing to make it easier to change providers

Sending a text will be all in takes to switch mobile networks in 18 months time

Mobile users will be able to divorce their providers by text within a single working day, thanks to new Ofcom rules announced today.

One of the major problems was the need to speak directly to a current network provider in order to make the change.

"Customers will control how much contact they have with their current mobile provider, preventing companies from delaying and frustrating the switching process".

"Our own research from earlier this year found that while one in five thought text-to-switch would make them more likely to switch provider, more than double would have been encouraged to change under a gaining-provider led process, the alternative system that Ofcom decided against".

The regulator said this was "one of the biggest hurdles" for people wanting to change operators.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom's consumer group director, said: 'Too many people are put off by the hassle of switching mobile provider.

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As well as this, mobile networks will no longer be able to charge for notice periods after the switch date - meaning people won't have to cough up cash for old and new services at the same time.

In its announcement, the regulator said: "Consumers need to be able to switch providers easily to exercise choice and take advantage of competition in the communications sector".

The move is less dramatic than Ofcom's original plan, which meant to place responsibility for the switch entirely in the hands of the new provider. The provider "must then arrange for the switch to complete within one working day".

Networks will be allowed an 18 month period to bring in the new system. The new rules will save consumers around £10m annually, Ofcom suggested.

Mobile telecoms companies usually send customers through various departments trying to convince them to stay before providing the requested PAC (porting authorisation code), needed to move your number to another provider and simultaneously end a contract, for example. Under the new process, operators must provide customers immediately with a number porting code, port the number within one day and can not charge for any notice period. Gaining-provider is a proposal whereby the network you want to switch to just sorts it out for you.

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