If you are thinking of leaving your current provider, one of the things you may wonder is whether you can keep your existing mobile number, the answer is a simple yes. It is an easier process nowadays than it used to be but there are still plenty of things that you need to know to make sure you don’t pay any more than you need to during the switching period.
What you need to switch
You will need to ask your current network for your PAC, this is the “Porting Authorisation Code” that your new network will need to move your number over from your current network. When you ask your current network for your PAC they are obliged to give you it immediately over the phone or within 2 hours by text message. It will be valid for 30 days, this 30 days will effectively be your contractual notice period with your current network. You should be aware that your current contract won’t be terminated if you don’t use your PAC code within the 30 days.
Doing it right
Before you request your PAC, you should find out what your billing date is with your current network. This is the day of the month that your inclusive allowances renew themselves and it will also be the date shown on your bill. The reason you need to know this is that the least confusing time to give your 30 day notice of termination to your current network is on your billing date (or the day before if it’s a 30 day month) because then your last bill will be the line rental for the full month of your notice period. If you give notice in the middle of your billing period you will end up paying for the whole of the next month and then getting a credit for half the month back once you’ve moved networks. Your network will also pro-rate your allowance if you do it mid-month so you could end up paying for usage if you go over your pro-rated amounts.
Assuming you’ve requested your PAC to coincide with your billing date, you should still make a special effort try and stay within your allowances for the month that will be your notice period, that way you won’t have to pay any other charges at the end of the notice period to your existing network.
The right deal for your usage
The next thing to do is to make sure you’ve looked around and found the best deal available on the market for your usage and also consider how your usage may change if you’re getting a phone that has enhanced features (e.g. if your new phone is your first smartphone you’ll almost certainly use more data than you used to). You’re making a fresh start and you’re going to be entering into a contract, so if you don’t get it right now you’ll have to put up with it for a good while to come. The easiest and most accurate way to do this is to use our Bill Analyser service because it analyses your latest bills and recommends the best deal specifically based on what you use. For a guide to using this service click here.
Buying your new contract
When you’ve found the deal you want, whether it’s in a retail store or with an online retailer you need to make sure you buy the deal at the right time to make sure you’re not paying for your new contract before your old one has expired. It is supposed to take only one working day to move your number over to a new network now, thanks to OFCOM insisting the process was made more consumer friendly. However, having called round a couple of different networks it seem that they are still quoting 48 hours for the switch.
So if you’re planning to get your new contract from a retail store, you can buy your new contract on the 28th day of your 30 day notice period, this way your number will switch over just as your old contract expires and you won’t have wasted any of your already paid for inclusive allowance on your old contract. Bear in mind you might need to give yourself a few extra days if you’re ordering online to allow for delivery.
Remember, once your 30 day notice period is up your PAC will expire and if you haven’t used it your existing contract with your current network will carry on as normal, you’ll have to get another PAC and give another 30 days notice on your current contract if you still want to move.
Save your contacts
THIS IS IMPORTANT!! If you have any contacts saved on your old SIM that you haven’t transferred to a memory card or your laptop/PC (note: you probably won’t be able to put your old SIM card in your new phone and just import your contacts as it will only accept SIM cards from your new network & vica versa) then you need to do this before the day of the switch. Once the switch has taken place your old SIM will die and you won’t be able to retrieve any information from it. If you’re not sure how to transfer your contacts give customer services a call and they can give you instructions for your specific model of phone.
The day of the switch
It is advisable not to use your new network’s phone until your number has switched as you’ll have a temporary number on your new network during this time and it will confuse all your friends! Also if you use your new phone straight away you’ll need to have both phones on the go or risk missing calls/texts on your existing number.
On the day your number is due to switch over it’s easiest to use your old network’s phone until a message comes up to tell you that your SIM is inactive or your current network’s signal flatlines. At this point your number will have switched to your new network so you can fire up your new device and start using it.
Unfortunately you won’t have much control over the billing date you are allocated from your new network so you may end up with a billing date that is 2 weeks after you join for example. In this case your first bill would be for 6 weeks worth of line rental, the 2 weeks you’ve just had plus the next 4 because line rental is always paid in advance. Your allowance will also be pro-rated in this case so make sure you don’t go crazy and use your whole month’s allocation of minutes in the first 2 weeks as you’ll end up being charged extra for them. Contact your new network as soon as you’ve switched to find out what your billing date will be so you know what you’ve got to use and how long you have to use it.
So now you know everything there is to know about switching your number to a new network. Hopefully it all makes sense, I didn’t realise quite how much there was to explain before I started writing! Let us know your own experiences with switching networks.