'Text-to-switch' plans could see mobile users change providers by simple message


Mobile phone users could switch providers by text message, under new plans proposed by the regulator.

The planned "text-to-switch" scheme would let customers move to a new network within 24 hours - and would prevent awkward phone calls to a network people wanted to leave.

Ofcom said customers would be able to send a free text message to their current operator to get a code to pass on to a new provider.

The changes would also mean that mobile phone networks would be banned from charging for notice periods running after the switch date - which would save customers £10 million a year, according to Ofcom.

Lindsey Fussell, Consumer Group director, said: "We want people and businesses to benefit from simpler, speedier mobile switching, making it easier for them to vote with their feet and take advantage of choice in the market.

"Our 'text-to-switch' plans would give greater control to mobile customers about when and how they switch, and prevent losing providers from delaying and frustrating the switching process."

Under the planned scheme, mobile phone users would text one of two memorable short codes, depending on whether they wanted to keep their mobile number to their current provider.

They would then receive a message with a code to transfer the service - called a PAC -  or with a cancellation code for those who are not intending to keep the same mobile number. 

A consultation on the proposals runs until June 30 with Ofcom saying a final decision will be published in autumn.