Ofcom unveils new rules to help speed-up switching mobile phone providers

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Mobile users will be able to switch provider using a free text, under new rules announced by the telecoms regulator.

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

"While it's disappointing Ofcom did not go further, this is still an improvement that will make it easier for more customers to get a better deal", Neudegg stated.

This, the regulator said, will put an end to people paying for old and new services at the same time, saving United Kingdom mobile customers around £10 million a year.

The communications regulator said mobile networks have made it too hard for customers to switch contracts by forcing them to call up and attempting to persuade them to stay.

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But under the new rules, customers will be able to swap firms without having to speak to their current provider by requesting a unique switching code via text or online.

The new rules also ban networks from charging for a notice period that runs after the switchover date, meaning customers aren't paying for two different services simultaneously.

But the new rules won't be in place until June 2019 to give providers enough time to get ready for the changes.

The sweeping reforms introduced by Ofcom will enable customers to text their mobile providers to receive a code to change. The code will be valid for 30 days, Ofcom said.

The customer can then pass this on to their new provider, who must arrange for the switch to be completed within one working day. As a result of the changes, Ofcom says it will be saving United Kingdom consumers around £10 million each year due to the ban on notice periods.

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The new procedure doesn't invalidate obligations such as early termination charges, outstanding handset costs or pay-as-you-go credit balances, which must be included in the response text from the current operator.

Ofcom recognised that the reforms will require mobile operators to make a number of changes to their systems, and require co-ordination between mobile companies.

A Vodafone spokesperson responded: "We agree that it should be simple for customers to select the service which best suits them and we are examining Ofcom's announcement".

The new provider will facilitate the switch within one working day, with the old service ending on the same day.

"Customers should not have to pay twice to switch supplier, a change we have already implemented".

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