Mobile phone users should thank Ofcom for making their life easier after the telecoms watchdog brought in new rules today forcing mobile operators to provide a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC) within a maximum of two hours.
The code is required when a customer wants to switch network operator and keep the same number, but previously it could take days for this code to arrive. Ofcom now requires it to be given immediately over the phone or sent by text within two hours.
Ernest Doku, a technology expert at uSwitch.com, said the move would give consumers far more control over their mobile phone contracts by helping them to get the best deals, while keeping their all important number.
"The process of keeping your phone number when you switch networks has been extremely cumbersome and has been a major barrier to switching. Over 18 million have never switched network over concerns about losing their number," he said.
"Mobile numbers are as important as home addresses these days. Anyone who has lost their phone will know what a hassle it is to contact everyone you know with your new number - so of course people want to keep their number when they switch."
By a neat coincidence, research by mathematics analytics group Billmonitor has revealed that UK consumers could save billions if they switched their mobile phone contract to a tariff that more accurately reflected their usage levels.
The group analysed 28,417 anonymised bills from customers on O2, Orange, Vodafone and T-Mobile over the past 18 months and found that a whopping £4.89bn is wasted every year due to the wrong contract being used.
Some 52 per cent of customers have a tariff that is too large, while 29 per cent are on a tariff that's too small, so they pay extra charges, while 19 per cent do not optimise free benefits and allowances or use lower costs on 24-month contracts.
The site has launched an impressive tool to coincide with this release that requires access to your online billing account before generating a report specific to you that offers the best possible contract based on your usage.
So if you've always thought you could get a better deal, now's the time to find out - and if you can, there should be no issues around changing provider quickly and keeping your number.
This video from Billmonitor shows why so many UK consumers have the wrong mobile phone contract.
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