Ofcom proposes new rules to make switching mobile providers easy

Ofcom is not happy with the way customers maintain a single mobile phone number. In the current form, people who intend to keep the same number but move carrier have to go through a usually lengthy call with an assistant, which usually ends up being a sales pitch to stay with the carrier rather than a swift move.

Under new rules, customers would be able to change carriers and maintain the same number with one text. The plans will remove the need for a PAC (porting authorisation code) call, instead the customer can send a text or call an automated service.

This skips the unnecessary sales pitch from the carrier, allowing the customer to move quickly.

Ofcom also plans to allow the new carrier to take care of all the leg work. The customer can call the new carrier, arrange the phone number to be moved, and in a few days the new carrier will make the swap.

All of this sounds excellent, especially for those that have had past experiences switching carriers and keeping the same phone number. All too often carriers try to grandfather contracts to stay with the provider, which can cause a myriad of problems in the long term.

Broadband companies already adhere to these rules, allowing people to switch with one phone call. Ofcom has been slow when it comes to adding the same rules on mobile, only recently making 0800 numbers free.

Ofcom wants to push the laws into the UK by 2016 and there is little resistance from the mobile companies or any other operators. The archaic system currently in use takes too much time for both the customer and the business.

Consumer group Which? said Ofcom should go further with the regulation, making the phone company send alerts to the customer when a contract is about to expire. Phones should also be unlocked for free, instead of the customer having to pay to remove the carrier.