Ofcom Consultation on Mobile Switching

July 27, 2015

Consumers currently face different processes for switching mobile provider, depending on whether they wish to keep their existing mobile phone number. Ofcom is concerned these processes may cause confusion and increase the perception that switching is hard, meaning consumers may miss out on the best deals.

The Ofcom consultation, snappily entitled Consumer switching: Consumer experience of switching mobile communications services and options for process reforms, seeks views on a range of mobile switching options. These include a simple process – technically known as ‘gaining provider led’ switching – which places the responsibility for the switch entirely in the hands of the company to which the customer is moving. This would mean the customer would no longer need to contact their current provider to switch, unless they wish to. The closing date for responses to the consultation is 6 October 2015.

Ofcom is also considering simplifying the process for obtaining a code which allows a customer to keep their existing number.

Ofcom is concerned that some operators currently make switching difficult. In June, Ofcom opened an industry-wide investigation into arrangements for cancelling and terminating services.

Switching rates for mobile services have fallen from 9% to 6% between 2013 and 2014, according to Ofcom research.

If necessary, Ofcom will consult on more detailed reform options for mobile switching in the spring of 2016, with a view to bringing into effect any reforms as soon as possible thereafter.

This latest consultation is part of Ofcom’s wider work to make it easier to switch between communications services. Last month, Ofcom made broadband switching simpler and smoother by introducing a ‘one touch’ process for millions of broadband customers of providers using the Openreach copper network – including BT, EE, Sky and TalkTalk. Ofcom is also examining consumers’ experiences of switching  ‘triple play’ – landline, broadband and pay TV – services between providers using the Openreach, Virgin Media cable or Sky satellite networks.