Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom's consumer group director, said: 'Too many people are put off by the hassle of switching mobile provider.
Britons have been promised a slick and easy new way to change mobile phone provider by telecoms regulator Ofcom.
The change is due to come in by July 2019, and Ofcom said it should mean fewer people are "put off by the hassle of switching mobile phone provider".
Around 2.5 million people experience a major problem while trying to switch mobile providers, with seven in ten encountering "at least some" difficulty, Ofcom said.
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.
The 18-month delay in instituting the reforms gives operators the time they'll need to make the necessary changes to their systems - setting up the short codes and automated response systems, making arrangements to coordinate switchovers with their competitors and making new billing arrangements to end notice-period double payments. Ofcom said this should save mobile customers around GBP 10 million per year.
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From 1 July 2019 you'll be able to request a code via text to give to a new provider, and be switched within one working day regardless of whether you have a contract or pay-as-you-go phone. The provider must supply the code immediately, as well as info on any outstanding charges, prepaid balance or termination charges. The code will be valid for 30 days, Ofcom said. Under the new process, operators must provide customers immediately with a number porting code, port the number within one day and can not charge for any notice period.
The new system will require networks to start coordinating with the competition a bit better, and change their existing infrastructure to accommodate it. For business customers, providers will have up to two working days to supply the code.
It wants to make it quicker and easier for customers unhappy with their current company to switch to a new firm.
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".
'Customers should not have to pay twice to switch supplier, a change we have already implemented.