Simple switching processes are a basic function of a competitive communications market. Yet the current process for changing mobile provider is complicated and slow, working against consumers and distorting fair and open competition. 
This is because switching in mobile uses a ‘Losing Provider’ Led system, which requires consumers to contact their existing provider to let them know they want to leave. If the customer wants to keep their existing number, they also need to request a Porting Authorisation Code, which they then need to present to their new provider.
This process causes real consumer harm. Of the nine million UK mobile customers who change provider annually, as many as 1.2 million are double billed or experience a total loss of service (Ofcom Consumer Retention Survey 2013). Millions more are put off switching altogether.

All other European countries operate ‘Gaining Provider’ Led systems, in which the consumer only needs to contact their new provider in order to commence the switching process.


These systems are used in nearly every mobile market worldwide, and were recently introduced in the UK banking and energy sectors. In this case a consumer needs only to contact their new provider who seamlessly manages the entire process on their behalf.



Three believes that Ofcom should take decisive steps to introduce simpler and easier mobile switching by 2017. Doing so would force providers to be upfront about their best deals, empower consumers to compare prices more effectively, and hold incumbent operators to account for the service they provide.