Switching mobile phone provider could become a lot easier under new proposals from Ofcom.
The telecoms regulator is looking to bring in new rules similar to those recently unveiled for the broadband market, to make it as easy as possible for consumers to move between communications providers.
Ofcom is concerned that the number of people moving between providers is falling, suggesting that the process is becoming too cumbersome and confusing.
One of the central elements of Ofcom’s proposals is removing the need for customers to obtain a ‘porting authorisation code’ (PAC) from their current provider if they want to keep their existing number when moving to another operator.
Ofcom wants to improve this so that acquiring the PAC becomes the responsibility of the provider the customer is moving to, or can be accessed without having to call customer services and speak to an advisor.
"For example, customers could simply text their provider to obtain the PAC they need, or call a number that has automated menu options," Ofcom said.
The watchdog has launched a consultation for responses to the proposals, which is open until 6 October.
Ofcom chief executive Sharon White described the move as another step forward in the regulator's efforts to make it easier for consumers to manage digital communication contracts.
“Consumers should be able to switch their mobile providers with minimum hassle to take advantage of the best deals on the market,” she said.
“Ofcom has recently made switching easier for millions of broadband users, and we are now focusing on improving the process for mobile customers.”
Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer group Which?, welcomed Ofcom’s move to improve switching requirements.
“It’s good to see Ofcom taking long-awaited steps to make switching mobile companies easier. We want the new provider to be responsible for the process so it is simpler for consumers," he said.
“Phone companies should also alert customers when their contracts are about to end and unlock handsets for free to promote switching and competition.”
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