Ofcom forces operators to swiftly hand over PAC codes

If, as a customer in the UK, you have ever tried to switch mobile network providers you’ll be painfully aware of the potential hassle involved. Regulator Ofcom has decided enough’s enough – and now operators must issue PAC codes to customers within two hours by phone or text.

To switch networks and keep phone numbers, a customer needs to demand a porting authorisation code, or PAC code, from their operator. It’s widely thought that obtaining a “PAC” code from an existing operator is a nightmare. 

If a customer requests a PAC code, it usually means they have seen that the grass is greener on the other side (it rarely is) and want to take their number with them. Typically a network could use delay tactics in last-ditch attempts to keep customers on side and make the whole process as arduous and boring as possible.

But the likes of Everything Everywhere will be forced, from today, to provide PAC codes to Anyone, Anywhere if they want them. That’s despite a 2007 proposed ruling, remembers The Independent,  that wanted to bring PAC delivery times down to two hours. It was overruled following an appeal from Vodafone

Price comparison service uSwitch says over 18 million people have never bothered to switch mobile phone networks before, not because they don’t want to, but because they didn’t want to lose their numbers – missing out on savings to the tune of £1.5 billion a year.

The operators, we reckon, have been well aware and used misdirection and delay in-store and via call centres to keep customers in the dark or dissuade them from keeping their well-remembered 11 digits. uSwitch says at least 2 million think that switching networks means losing their number, while 13 million would be happier to switch if the process was easy.