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1 Jul 2019

Mobile phone users set to switch networks via free text message

New rules are designed to make it easier to change providers

From today, mobile phone users will be able to switch their provider by sending a free text message.

The telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has introduced the new process - text-to-switch - in the hopes that it will make switching mobile provider quicker and easier.

Mobile phone providers have had 18 months to implement the new system, which now has to be in place by 1 July.

Read the full results of our best and worst mobile networks survey to find out which providers come top - and which you should avoid.

How does text-to-switch work?

The new process makes preparing to switch mobile provider very quick - there are just three steps to follow:

  1. Request a switching code by texting a free number (you can also request the code online or over the phone).
  2. You will then immediately receive one of two types of code from your current provider - if you want to keep your number you'll receive a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC); if you want a new number you'll receive a cancellation code.
  3. You then pass your code on to your new provider when you sign up.

When your code is sent through, your current provider will also send through information about any early termination fees, outstanding handset costs or credit balances.

The process of requesting a code won't end your current contract - it won't be affected until you actually pass the code on to another provider. If you don't pass it on, it will simply expire - codes will be valid for thirty days.

Ofcom says the new system should mean customers don't have to deal with providers trying to convince them to stay on when they've decided it's time to switch. However, your provider may still try contacting you after you've received a code to convince you to stay.

Ofcom has simultaneously banned mobile providers from charging for notice periods running after the switch date.

What number do I need to text to switch mobile network?

If you want to keep your phone number, text 'PAC' to65075. You'll be sent a Porting Authorisation Code within a minute.

If you want to change phone numbers, text 'STAC' to75075. Within a minute, you'll receive a Service Termination Authorisation Code.

You can then pass the code you receive onto your new provider without having to contact your current one.

If you're considering switching but aren't sure whether you have any outstanding charges, you can text 'INFO' to85075to receive more information.

Choosing the best mobile phone provider

Before you use text to switch, double check that you're signing up to the best provider for you.

We've surveyed over 6,000 Which? members about their mobile phone providers - asking them to rate them on factors including customer service and value for money. We also asked how satisfied they were, and whether they'd recommend their provider to friends and family.

The big providers disappointed overall - but three of the smaller providers earned Which? Recommended Provider status. Weigh up the pros and cons of the different mobile networks using our mobile phone provider reviews.

If you're not sure on whether to go for pay-as-you-go, Sim-only or contract, use our guide on how to choose the best mobile phone deal to figure out which type of plan is best for you.

If you're happy with your current mobile network but fancy the idea of paying less each month, it's worth giving them a call. While haggling can sound intimidating, providers expect and invite it. For tips on how to negotiate the cost of your contract, read our guide on how to haggle for the best mobile deal.