Mobile users can switch providers via text under Ofcom reforms

Consumers will be able to switch mobile phone providers by sending a text message
Consumers will be able to switch mobile phone providers by sending a text message
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Consumers will be able to switch mobile phone providers by sending a text message under new reforms set out by the communications regulator.

Ofcom said that the changes will come into effect in 18 months and will make it quicker and easier for people and businesses to leave their mobile company.

Under Ofcom's new rules, mobile providers will also be banned from charging for notice periods running after the switch date.

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

Around two in five mobile switchers - or 2.5 million people - experience at least one major problem when switching, while seven in 10 encountered "at least some" difficulty, according to Ofcom.

The organisation said that one of the biggest hurdles in changing provider is having to speak to your current provider, and facing unwanted attempts to persuade you to stay.

Ofcom's consumer group director Lindsey Fussell said: "Too many people are put off by the hassle of switching mobile provider. Our changes will make it quicker and easier for mobile phone users to get a better deal.

"Customers will control how much contact they have with their current mobile provider, preventing companies from delaying and frustrating the switching process."

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.

The industry will need to set up the new short codes for people to text and be able to send instant automated responses to switching requests, as well as new billing arrangements to end notice-period double payments.

All operators will have to comply with the new regulations by no later than July 1 2019.