Three has urged Ofcom to extend proposals for making it easier to change telecoms and broadband provider for mobile customers.
The regulator proposed this morning (10 February) a system where the new supplier of telecoms or broadband would be responsible for switching the customer, which would include the transfer of services from the old provider. Ofcom is proposing the measures as consumers can experience problems when switching services, like losing broadband services temporarily.
While Ofcom is initially focusing on making it easier to switch broadband and telecoms providers, the regulator said future parts of its review would consider mobile services. A spokesman for Three urged Ofcom to speed this process up. He said: 'Ofcom’s proposal for a simple 'gaining-provider led' porting system is good news for broadband customers, but it’s a very different story for mobile consumers. It’s five years since Ofcom first sought to introduce similar systems for mobile customers and yet the UK’s mobile consumers are still stuck having to ask permission from their current provider to keep their number when switching. We hope Ofcom will extend the rights it is proposing for broadband customers to mobile customers as a matter of urgency.'
Bob Warner, panel chair of the Communications Consumer Panel, welcomed Ofcom's proposals but urged mobile providers to work with the regulator to develop an unified switching process for all communication services. Warner said: 'This will give consumers confidence to switch and improve the service for those that do. If consumers are discouraged from switching bundles because of the complexity of the processes, this risks reduced competition and a worse deal for consumers.'
Consumer Focus director of policy Adam Scorer said he hoped the measures would lead to higher numbers of people switching to better deals. He said: 'Ofcom should now also look at switching bundles such as broadband, TV and mobile as they are increasingly popular amongst consumers, but have switching rates even lower than broadband.'
In April 2011, Ofcom imposed rules requiring operators to issue a Porting Authorisation Code to a customer who was leaving it within two hours by text or immediately over the phone.