UK gets an easier way to switch mobile providers

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If you've ever tried to switch mobile phone providers in the UK you'll know that if you want to keep your existing number after the transfer it involves getting a PAC (porting authorization code) from your old provider.

Obtaining this has in the past involved phoning them up and having them plead with you not to leave while offering you all kinds of special deals to persuade you to stay. Well not any more.

From today UK mobile users who want to switch can get a PAC just by sending a text. The changes have been brought in by telecoms regulator Ofcom in order to make it easier for people to switch.

Ofcom's research finds that 31 percent of mobile switchers find it difficult to cancel their previous service. This is the biggest obstacle to switching that people face. Of people who consider switching but then choose not to, 45 percent say it's because switching they think would be too time consuming, and 39 percent are put off by the hassle of needing to contact more than one provider.

Here's how the new text-to-switch service works. If you want to switch providers but keep your existing number you just text PAC to 65075 -- this works for any UK mobile service provider. You should then get a reply with your PAC within a minute. The code is valid for 30-days during which you can sign up to a new provider. The text should also give you any information about termination charges on your contract or remaining balance on a pay-as-you-go account.

"Breaking up with your mobile provider has never been easier thanks to Ofcom’s new rules," says Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom's consumer group director. "You won't need to have that awkward chat with your current provider to take advantage of the great deals available."

A couple of other useful codes are being launched too. Text STAC to 75075 to terminate your contract if you don't want to keep your old number. If you're not sure if you are still in a contract or if you would have to pay a termination fee you can text INFO to 85075 to find out.

Ofcom has also banned services providers from charging for a notice period that extends beyond the switch date, so you won't be paying two providers at the same time.

If you've been putting off switching providers because you thought it was too much hassle there are now no more excuses.

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