Ofcom Proposes Text-To-Switch Plans So Mobile Customers Can Easily Dump Their Network Providers

Ofcom wants to make it easier for people to switch mobile operators with a proposal to allow customers to send their network provider a free text when they want to leave.

The telecoms watchdog has a package of reforms which aims to then ensure that customers receive a text back from the network they wish to leave which grants them a unique code to pass on to their desired provider who will then arrange to carry the switch over within one working day.

Text dumping

In some ways the proposed service is akin to the much derided method of ‘dumping’ someone via text, but with a lot more formality, such as any information pertaining to termination charges, outstanding costs relating to handsets on contract and credit balances.

The proposed rules also want to stop network operators from charging for notice periods running after the date of the switch, essentially cutting out the need for customers to pay for an old and new contract at the same time, something Ofcom notes would save UK mobile phone users £10 million per year.

“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,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director.
“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.”

A consolation period for the proposal package is underway until 5pm June 30, and Ofcom expects to have published its final decision on the proposals in the autumn.

Such a move is likely to ruffle the feathers of some mobile operators who may feel they are getting shortchanged from being able to easily retain their existing customers. However, we doubt many mobile users will not be happy to receive a means to ease the process of switching networks.

Ofcom is not backwards in coming forwards with making demands of telecoms operators, as seen with its order to BT Openreach to reduce the cost of superfast broadband.

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Roland Moore-Colyer

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

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