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Ofcom – From Monday Text PAC to 65075 to Switch UK Mobile Operators

Friday, June 28th, 2019 (8:29 am) - Score 82,639

The telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has today braced the industry for the introduction of their new “Text-to-Switch” (Auto-Switching) system for UK mobile operators like Vodafone, O2, Three UK and EE, which is going live on Monday next week. The new system will make it easier and quicker for consumers to change networks.

Previously if you wanted to switch to a different network then there were two potential methods. This meant you could either, a) cancel the old service and start a new one (Cease and Re-provide) – usually losing your number in the process – or, b) attempt to “port” your existing number by requesting a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC) from your current provider (LP – Losing Provider) and giving this to the new provider (GP – Gaining Provider).

The PAC process worked but some people were caught out by delays and additional charges during the notice period (i.e. effectively paying for two mobile plans at the same time, even though you could only use one service). By comparison Ofcom’s new “text-to-switch” system simplifies the whole process and effectively bans operators from charging for notice periods running after the switch date.

On top of that the new system does NOT require you to speak (voice) with your existing provider in order to leave their service, which was one of the past causes of difficulties for switchers (i.e. operators would sometimes make it tedious to leave). Instead you’d simply send a free text or online message to the provider that you wish to leave and this is where the new process begins (see below).

NOTE: Ofcom’s research reveals that 31% of mobile switchers find it difficult to cancel their previous service. Of those who consider switching but then choose not to, 45% felt it would be too time consuming and 39% are put off by the hassle of needing to contact more than one provider.

The New Switching Process


* To request their unique switching code, people must text the word “PAC” to the number 65075 (assuming you want to keep your mobile number). Those who don’t want to keep their mobile number would instead text the word “STAC” to 75075 (STAC means “Service Termination Authorisation Code“) but will follow the same process as below.

* The losing provider would immediately respond by text with the relevant number transfer code or with a cancellation code for those who aren’t intending to keep the same mobile number. The PAC code is valid for 30 days.

* The text reply will also include important information relating to any early termination charges, outstanding handset costs, or pay-as-you-go credit balances. This can be shared by text, online account or phone call.

* The unique switching code (both via the PAC or STAC process) should then be passed on to your new provider at the point you place an order for their service, without the need for a further conversation. Among other things, this helps to avoid double billing during the migration.

* Providers would also be required to publish and promote clear guidance to help customers follow the new process and make informed switching decisions.

NOTE: It’s also possible to text “INFO” to 85075 if you’re not sure whether they are still ‘in contract’ and would have to pay any early termination charges (you won’t get a transfer code back, just the information).

Back in 2017 the regulator estimated that introducing this complicated new system would cost the industry £44m over 10 years, although estimates suggested that it could also save UK consumers around £10m each year. This is one of the reasons why Ofcom allowed an 18 month implementation window, which ends on 3rd July 2019. However there are concerns that a super easy switching process could be more open to abuse (time will tell).

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said:

“Breaking up with your mobile provider has never been easier thanks to Ofcom’s new rules. You won’t need to have that awkward chat with your current provider to take advantage of the great deals available.”

Jonathan Lenton, Ombudsman Services, said:

“We know from the complaints we see that, for too many people, switching mobile provider can be problematic and stressful.

It should be easy for all consumers to shop around for the best mobile deal. The new text-to-switch rules will help towards that goal and should also help to increase switching rates.”

Meanwhile Ofcom are also working to ensure clear-cut contracts for people who pay for their mobile services and handsets together, which are known as airtime packages (here). This will be designed to tackle situations where you keep paying the same monthly amount even after the contract has ended, which is despite the handset cost having been paid off.

The regulator proposes to solve the above issue by either forcing operators to be more transparent with the airtime package details or requiring them to automatically introduce “fairer tariffs” at the end of a minimum contract period (e.g. moving customers to a cheaper SIM-Only plan without the handset charges). We are still awaiting the outcome of their consultation.

UPDATE 1st July 2019

Since it’s Monday we figured it might be worth trying the new ‘Text to Switch‘ INFO service on 85075 with Three UK. I got a reply asking me to confirm date of birth, so at least there is a basic security check, albeit not a very strong one. However a customer with EE tried the same thing and got no such prompt for DoB.


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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
53 Responses
  1. dave says:

    I wonder how many MVNO’s won’t be ready for this. Thinking mostly about the smaller ones.

    1. Phil says:

      While we resolve these technical issues please feel free to contact one of our friendly retentions…I mean…support teams to provide you with your PAC code.

      Alternatively write to this inbox which we swear doesn’t have 10,000 unread messages and 1 agent dealing with the entire inbox…who’s off sick on stress.

  2. Sam says:

    I doubt Plusnet will be ready, they don’t even support short numbers today.

    Possibly a web form will suffice and seems to meet Ofcom’s guidance.

    1. spurple says:

      I have one piece of advice: don’t give your custom to an operator who is incapable of meeting the minimum operating requirements, or even running their IT systems to a certain level of competency. If they can’t do that, to me it’s just a red flag for potential billing errors and potentially incorrect, adverse entries on your credit file that will take months to resolve.

  3. SimonM says:

    Some thoughts and questions:

    Are texts to 65075, 75075, and/or 85075 free of charge for *all* users, be they PAYG or Contract, on all UK Mobile networks? If not is there a limit on the charge the provider can levy on those numbers set by Ofcom?

    Seeing as the provider can give the PAYG balance (and presumably Contract Credit), are they now going to be willing, or even forced by Ofcom, to allow that credit to be transferred to the gaining provider, or refunded to the customer’s bank account? And if not why aren’t Ofcom enforcing that too.

    Are mobile operators going to be required to explicitly tell people about this new service, like banks have with the current account switching service?

    1. spurple says:

      I can see how they can require refunding, but you can’t expect to receive the full amount you paid.

      I think that when you spend say £10 on credit for any given provider, by the time all the involved middle-men take their cut, the provider doesn’t get £10, even though they credit you with £10 worth of service. The fees they incur are priced into the services you can spend on.

      Furthermore, they probably cannot safely refund any credit that was bought with Cash — that would leave a loophole for abuse and money laundering perhaps lol.

      Worth looking into, but not something you can take for granted.

  4. New_Londoner says:

    I wonder why Ofcom believes that allowing switching in this way via an inherently insecure channel is a good thing. This is wide open to fraud!

    1. spurple says:

      Well, don’t give your mobile phone to untrusted thirdparties.

      I already don’t do this, because the device is now pretty much an extension of my brain. It gives easy access to my financial world and my work and my personal stuff (credentials etc).

      Ergo, I choose devices that are encrypted strongly and use lock screen at all times.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      Sometimes even “trusted” third parties can do stupid things with your phone, just for a laugh. I suspect this may be more an issue for those under a certain age.

    3. Stephen Wakeman says:

      Spurple – think you missed the point. New_Londoner is referring to the SMS system being unsecure. To use this service you’d be using SMS, so it’s not a case of deciding not to give your number, the system identifies your number for this process to actually work.

    4. New_Londoner says:

      You’re correct, it’s madness to use SMS in this way, leaves people wide open to slamming – and worse if outstanding credit balances transfer alongside the PAC.

      I gather that the ICO warned against this but Sharon and team decided to press on regardless. As a minimum these should use different channels to make the request and then deliver the code, doing everything over SMS is a nonsense.

    5. Spurple says:

      Someone please articulate clearly the security risk of using SMS that isn’t mitigated by encrypted and locked phones.

      I can’t think of any that isn’t already easy to do today. Anyone could call my provider and pretend to be me if they know some key details. If the system relied on gaining access to my locked phone, then that might be trickier.

      You could spoof an SMS to the provider, but the reply will come to me, and i can delete and ignore it if I didn’t request it.

      If you’ve got the ability to intercept my SMS, you’ve pretty much won even without this system.

    6. ak47 says:

      @Spurple: It’s easy to do. You drop your heavily encrypted phone, someone picks it up, takes out the SIM card puts in into another phone and gets your PAC code within a minute before you realise and have had time to call the your MNO to get your SIM blocked.

      A pin on the SIM might help but seriously how many people use that feature? Do you?

  5. Michael V says:

    If people end up paying for two services during the notice period then it’s their own fault!
    Get a PAC from existing operator, that’s 4weeks notice. Wait 3weeks then in week 4 give it to new Operator. Then there will only be a few days over lap. I don’t think we really need this new service. There’s nothing wrong with the ‘break up’ phone call then sign up to a new provider…

    1. SimonR says:

      I’m not sure why switching earlier isn’t a benefit to the user. Sure, I could sit on things for the best part of a month, but if it doesn’t need to occupy my time then why should it?

      What advantages are there to not having a standardised optimised system for something that people shouldn’t need to worry about.

    2. Stephen Wakeman says:

      Michael V – you seem to have not read the article. Some providers use very hard tactics to dissuade switching and giving you the PAC code. If it doesn’t affect you, great, not everyone is you. An individual not seeing the value in something does not make that thing lack value to other people.

    3. Michael V says:

      @Stephen. Hi. I did read the article. Yes people may find value in it, I didn’t say otherwise. Yes it’s nice to have but we don’t really ‘need’ it. If one asks for a PAC then the Operator has to provide it.

      @Simon. I was referring to 3rd paragraph, that people collect PAC then go straight to new provider, that’s on them if they have to pay for two services. Of course there’s a benefit to leaving one Operator early, if one isn’t happy.

    4. Mike says:

      Have you ever tried obtaining a PAC code from EE or some other obstinate providers. Like pulling teeth. Very bad experience. Passed prom pillar to post, took nearly an hour.

      Yes we do need this, simplifies the whole process.

    5. Jon says:

      Yeah because everyone would much rather wait four weeks than a few minutes to switch

  6. tom says:

    i think for security we should have to give some sort of passcode to make sure someone doesn’t request a new sim in your name then use the service to move to a different service and get out phones or tablets in your name

    1. Aj Greene says:

      That has happened to me today, lost all service with o2 then messaged them online to find out why? And was informed i had switched provider and now with Vodafone!! I think this “text switch” system has opened up channels to the black market.

  7. Vince says:

    Although I think it should be pointed out that if you have more than one number on an account you can’t use this service.

    For example on EE, if I was to ask for info on when my contract ends:

    Hi from EE. is part of a multiple subscription account so are not able to complete this request by text. The account holder will need to log into ee.co.uk/myee or call 150 to request your switching information, PAC or STAC. You can find out more at ee.co.uk/leavingus Thanks.

    (in this case iPhone + Apple Watch is the “multiple subscription”)

    On Vodafone you get:

    Thanks for your request. As there is more than one number or device on this account, the registered owner will need to call us on 191 free from a Vodafone mobile, or 0333 304 0191 from any other UK mobile or landline (standard call charges apply). Alternatively, this can be done online by visiting http://www.vodafone.co.uk/myvodafone just select ‘account settings’ and then ‘mobile switching’.

    Just a warning that it’s not always going to work out for people…

  8. Ken says:

    I’m a little bit concerned about the security of this new system. Like other people have said, it only takes a few minutes with your mobile phone for someone to send a text message to this number and to make a copy of the PAC Code that comes back.
    Even worse, there are probably a number of applications on your phone that have access to read your text messages (WhatsApp and the like) so any of them could also read and intercept your PAC Code.
    It seems like a really bad idea to do this at the same time that the banks are introducing SCA (secure customer authentication) which relies on sending messages to your registered phone number when you make payments online. SIM swap is only going to worse…

  9. Hamish says:

    I’ve just requested my PAC from EE. Text arrived back in less than 30 seconds. This is a MUCH better solution than having to call the customer services team. Good job Ofcom

  10. Jenny B says:

    I have requested my PAC code from Vodafone this morning – I just got a message to call them so they are not adhering to the new OFCOM rules

  11. kaptainkandikat says:

    I think for three at least this needs a bit of work.

    1 month into a 24 month contract, the result from three says that my final bill would be £536. (this sim is £8 a month)

    2 months into a 12 month agreement at £20 a month claims that my final bill will be zero.

    Three use a dart board I’m sure.

  12. Mike B says:

    This is a big improvment but doesn’t go far enough in my opinion. It would be better to enforce a common approach to cater for number transfers within the same provider.

    As an example, I have been with Three for years. Each year I try to find the best SIM-only deal on offer. Three can’t transfer a number between 2 SIM-only contacts so I have to get a PAYG number with a 3rd party, e.g. Vodafine, transfer the number out, then get another PAC from Vodafone to transfer the number back to Three again. A bit long winded to say the least!

    Thoughts anyone?

    1. Michael S says:

      I am with 3. Never had a problem transferring numbers to different sims. Just asked the salesman in the shop who does it on his laptop.

  13. Mike Bray says:

    I’ve requested my PAC from EE three times today via 65075 and no text back to any of them! Any ideas? I really wanted to avoid calling them.

  14. Samantha says:

    I texted the number and got back a response saying please contact EE as you have multiple numbers on your account! I want the PAC code for the number I was texting from, I knew there would be a catch.

  15. Mike Bray says:

    Called EE. Advised the system wasn’t working properly yet! What a surprise! Obtained PAC code over the phone and have now joined another network.

  16. jan adams says:

    New system has just worked seamlessly for me when
    swapping from Virgin to Sky.
    Phoned Virgin yesterday who gave me a PAC code there and then.
    Submitted PAC code and activated new SIM both online with Sky.
    12.29 today got message from Virgin saying service with them terminated.
    12.30 I exchanged old SIM for new.
    12.31 switched phone back on & was on new Sky network.
    So only break in service was time it took me to swap SIMs.
    Huge improvement on previous tortuous experiences of changing provider!

    1. Stephen says:

      Was your phone unlocked before you requested a PAC….
      I am trying to get an unlock code from O2 so I can switch network
      ..if I had or purchased an unlocked mobile phone the switch would be easy it seems

  17. Andy Mitchell says:

    Hi Mark I run a large corporate mobile network and am being told I can only use x24 free Port Out Texts do you know if that`s correct?

    1. Nick Hill says:

      Andy, I operate an MVNO network and most of the comments above have an element of truth in them!nYour position is different as OFCOM defines the SMS methodology as being for one SIM on an account only. Its up the provider to determine if they want to comply with multiple SIMS etc using this new process.
      Your comment leads me to believe that you have many SIMS that you want to move, so a BULK PAC is really your best bet. Any provider can do this, they may just be a little ‘obstructive’ about it.
      The reason I became an MVNO was because the ‘big four’ simply weren’t servicing the dealer/client relationship well. Subsequently, OFCOM are trying to crack a consumer nut with a very badly shaped sledgehammer! Success will only be determined over time….
      Good luck!

  18. Chris Rich says:

    Vodafone failing to reply to my “PAC” text – looks like I’ll be hanging on the phone line to speak to an operator…

    1. Sam says:

      Are you still on hold?? Lol

      Vodafone are useless!!

    2. Connor says:

      Better than what I had, Vodafone sent back a PAC for a different network

  19. Sal says:

    Doesn’t work with 3 mobile..they are doing everything they can to not give me my PAC

  20. William Bradley says:

    I request a pac 30)08/1948…65075

  21. William Bradley says:

    PAC …30/08/1948..65075

  22. James Winsoar says:

    I’ve tried it with EE and got no reply at all, so currently on a long hold to try to speak to someone.

  23. Les Jones says:

    Have tried to obtain PACno on several occasions from Vodaphone without success. Obviously trying to obstruct me from leaving.

    1. Sam says:

      Vodafone are useless!!!

  24. Becky says:

    Virgin say they will charge me for this text. Any idea how much???

    1. Melvin says:

      No idea – but EE have just told me the same. Again, no clue anywhere on their website what the charge is.

  25. Sam says:

    VODAFONE: DO NOT USE THEM!! We have a Business account with vodafone. The named person on account no longer works our business. Vodafone are making it impossible to take back the account. I’ve been into store twice on their instructions with a business card, compliment slip, ID and the phone! Requested a PAC code using the text and Vodafone wont make the change without a pin. We cannot get the pin for the above reason.
    A direct breach of the legislation. Their service is despicable and awful.

  26. Daniel says:

    I’m currently on 02 Pay&GO and i want to switch to vodafone but i want to keep my number. I’m wanting to use text-to-switch service but 02 is trying to charge me to send the text which should be free.

    I don’t want to to call 02 and explain myself to them that’s the whole point of the service. I’m pretty sure OFCOM would be interested to know that 02 is charging customers to use text-to-switch.

    1. Daniel says:

      After reading comments about vodafone i may switch to EE.

  27. Paul Jones says:

    I’ve been trying to get a pac code from 3 since Friday. I text pac to the relevant number and got no response. I then called 3 twice and was assured they would sent the code. And when I still heard nothing I went down the live chat route and again told I’d receive it. It’s now Tuesday and still nothing. I thought this system was brought in to stop these clowns from doing this. I’m loosing business due to this now.

  28. J Evans says:

    This new service doesn’t work for me on EE.
    EE website doesn’t work either.
    The 2 e-mail addresses listed in the welcome pack didn’t work either
    Today, their on-line chat is ‘busy’ ALL THE TIME (no surprise I suppose)
    Make your own mind up as to whether you want to sign up to this company.
    Oh, and how the hell do they get away with these tactics? Offcom = Useless

  29. M Rizvi says:

    Not working for me. Tried EE, Vodafone & three. No reply. Waited almost 6 hours

  30. James says:

    Vodafone don’t seem to complying with this text to leave process. Used the text service for a PAC, was prompted to add account PIN. After checking account PIN online was correct, the PAC was still not returned. This makes a mockery of the process, which is supposed to be ‘easy’, but Vodafone seem to be forcing customers to call them to obtain a PAC. Ofcom need more teeth..

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