back to article TalkTalk and Three want to make it easier to switch mobe networks

TalkTalk and Three want to make it easier for mobile customers to switch networks – but they're going about it in a very odd way. TalkTalk boss Dido Harding and Dave Dyson of Three, along with Chris Pateman, chief executive of the Federation of Communications Services and Sarah Willingham, founder of, have …

  1. jeremyjh

    I'll believe it when I see it. The process is a lot easier than it used to be, but the last time I left Three it took the best part of an hour of telling them I was definitely leaving to extract the promise of a code.

    Edit: I'm currently a happy Three customer again. For now.

    1. MrXavia

      Only problem with Three is coverage in the countryside, and their femtocell is a bit wimpy.

      Deal wise they are great value and their speeds are good.

  2. Lionel Baden

    im moving soon

    Bailing out of the Vodafone ship going to Three.

    but if Vodafone offer me an unlimited data package, I could be convinced to stay.

    Its not that I use excessive data, 1 gig per month atm, unlimited probably 4-5,

    Vodafone don't offer enough data and their pricing for going over the limit is ridiculous.


    1. xyz Silver badge

      Re: im moving soon

      as someone who bailed from Vodafone to Three, all I can say is just do it. Vodafone seems to be using the BT "suck those punters dry" manual these days. I've been with Three for 8 months now and IMHO they are great. No cock ups, no hooky terms and cons, it just works...all the mins, texts and data I want, tethering and "feel at home." Again IMHO, Three really knows what the customer wants.

      1. You have not yet created a handle
        Thumb Up

        Re: im moving soon

        Good to hear that - just jumped from a full monty T-Mobile plan to Three to get their all-you-can-eat 4G plan for less..

        To be honest I would have stayed with t-mobile had they just given me a signal box for the house (4 phones in the household with them) but I guess it was the wrong time in the quarter (or month) for the retentions lady who wasn't having any of it and gave me a PAC without even putting up a fight.

        Maybe they are just trying to dump all their non-EE customers

        1. frank ly

          Re: im moving soon

          I had a look at 3 recently and it seems that tethering is limited to 4GB a month on the 'all you can eat' plan. I assume they 'detect' this by looking at the user_agent from your browser, which would make it easy to work around. As another 'workaround', you could run a torrent client on your phone then WiFi transfer the files to your home network, etc.

        2. Admiral Grace Hopper

          Re: im moving soon

          My conversation prior my move from EE (ex T-Mobile) was amusing for the wrong reasons.

          "Why are you leaving us?".

          "Because they're offering unlimited data and tethering for X £/month".

          "We can offer you Y GB for X+3 £/month".

          "Not unlimited?"



          "That's 5 £/month extra"

          "Thanks, but no thanks"

          1. goldcd

            I had pretty much the same conversation.

            To be fair, I'd no real issues with EE - apart from their somewhat gouging attitude to every bell and whistle.

            e.g. not content with selling you LTE, they then try to sell you 'super-LTE'!

            Didn't mind them asking why I was leaving, and they politely listened and handed over my PAC code without a quibble.

            I just liked Three's reasonably straightforward pricing - and desire to actually remove annoyances (e.g. charging for 0800 numbers). Bonus bits such as freebie US roaming, 4G just appearing unannounced near me, downloadable app that'll route calls over wifi to get around any poor indoor reception - rather than having to get a picocell etc etc, all bonuses.

            Still, would happily go back to EE if anything changes. Vodafone on the other hand - never.

    2. MonsieurInconnu

      Re: im moving soon

      Similar situation here: albeit with O2. Their 'device cost' and 'airtime cost' combined with poor offerings for airtime/data, along with godawful reception (sick of dropped calls/no reception) mean I'm looking at 3. Am counting the days....

    3. Samuel Penn
      Thumb Up

      Re: im moving soon

      I left Vodafone for Three at the beginning of the year, also because I wanted more data and free international roaming. It was easy, and I even get better reception with Three than I did with Vodafone.

    4. Don Dumb
      Thumb Up

      Re: im moving soon

      For what it's worth* -

      As a 3 customer, I've been pretty impressed with their service, since moving from O2 a year or so ago. Originally because I was on sim-only contracts and wanted more data than the 1GB that everyone was offering.

      I should probably point out the "Feel at Home" thing has been a blessing. Basically it makes travel to some 16 countries very painless by charging all calls and texts to the UK and data from your allowance as if you're still in the UK (i.e. from your normal allowance).

      Went to the US for 10 days, used loads of data and sent calls and texts back home. My bill was only 58p higher than normal as a result.

      I've found their customer service alright, although I haven't needed it that much so I haven't tested it to any decent level.

      * Disclaimer - have no allegance to 3 other than as a customer

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "customer churn alliance"

    "By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising...kill yourself. Thank you. Just planting seeds, planting seeds is all I'm doing. No joke here, really. Seriously, kill yourself, you have no rationalisation for what you do, you are Satan's little helpers. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show. Seriously, I know the marketing people: 'There's gonna be a joke comin' up.' There's no fuckin' joke. Suck a tail pipe, hang yourself...borrow a pistol from an NRA buddy, do something...rid the world of your evil fuckin' presence.

    Bill Hicks"

    -- RIP Bill Hicks.

    Bill Hicks on marketing:

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile, on the Continent...

    Here in France, you dial a 4-digit number, a machine sends you the PAC instantly by SMS, you put it in the subscription form of your new network, get the new SIM two days later, replace the old one and activate it one week later, and you're done.

    But surely we must be doing it wrong.

    1. goldcd

      It's not *that* different here

      You just phone them up and say "I want a PAC"

  5. Steve Medway

    Dangerous Game Is Being Proposed.

    I've seen the effect of Provider Led Processes. Customers end up getting transferred to new suppliers without their authority or knowledge in many cases because the sale people are all commission based.

    The early UK Gas & Electric market competition spring to mind. So fuck off Three & TalkTalk, who incidentally are both not exactly known for their fantastic customer service.

    Far simpler to have a system which goes - ring provider A 'Give me PAC', it's provided immediately via voice or txt. Then ring provider B and provide PAC, transfer between suppliers should take no more than 2 hours for the new num to be active. Two factor auth is far better than one for consumers.

    1. Number6

      Re: Dangerous Game Is Being Proposed.

      Yes, those who want it all to be done by the company that benefits most should go look at the practice of slamming, as operated by phone companies in the US. A positive, defined step by the customer is needed, that can't be faked or obtained by deception. It should be possible to do it on-line though, for those who don't wish to have to tell the old company's retentions department to piss off.

  6. Norm DePlume

    PAYG wins

    Strangely they don't put much effort in if you want a PAC when you're on PAYG. Orange just sent it me, no hassle. Now I'm with 3 and enjoying the appalling notoriety EE seem to be getting themselves these days.

    1. BongoJoe

      Re: PAYG wins

      One of the reasons why I went PAYG. And if one is really cheesed off then just change the SIM and number and tell your chums your new one and off you go.

  7. Daniel Snowden

    Protection against smalling required

    Hopefully any changes to the current means of switching will include suitable protection against "slamming" - don't want a repeat of what happened when changes were made to the process of switching utility providers

  8. Warm Braw

    Why don't OFCOM handle this?

    Well, not OFCOM, they're just the regulator, but some OFCOM-approved independent body providing a number translation (or routing) service.

    The current porting process for both landlines and mobiles is a mess - when you move your number, your calls still go to the original network and are "tromboned" on to the new network. This isn't really scalable in the long run and in any case it doesn't make sense having your calls routed through a provider you no longer have any contractual agreement with (or which might ultimately cease to exist). Not to mention that when/if we see the end of termination fees people will want to port numbers from landlines to mobiles.

    If I have valid numbers and contracts with one or more telecomms suppliers, I ought to be able to swap around the call routing at will.

    1. Lionel Baden

      Re: Why don't OFCOM handle this?

      Wow If that is true, then my calls are going from O2 to vodafone to orange to EE and back to vodafone !!

      Next in the loop Three !!!

      ive had my number for a while :)

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Heard It In The Pub

        Re: Why don't OFCOM handle this?

        You phone number is always "owned" by the original operator and they are responsible for redirecting your call to your new provider each time you port. This is one good reasons why porting has issues, they have no vested interest in your service once you've left and will always play the “its not us, its them” fault if they don't update their network.

        The Irish approach is great and means you can swap networks in sub two hours and you need never talk to the operator you are leaving so no hard sell to keep you.

        Why don't OfCom handle it? Well they don't have the appetite for it unless EU says so or they'll make someone (government) money. Additionally, getting the "big" boys to agree i.e. O2, Voda and now EE will take divine intervention.

        Note, I am in telecoms and in this technical area, but being a mercenary I have zero allegiance :-)

      3. Warm Braw

        Re: Why don't OFCOM handle this?

        >Next in the loop

        I think the issue of multiple porting has been answered. However, you might not be aware (I certainly wasn't) that while OFCOM require voice calls to follow a ported number, the same does not appear to be true of texts. I got bitten by this some time ago by a number ported from O2 to T-Mobile - incoming texts from some networks were redirected successfully, but not from all. I had to get to a fairly high level in the technical support hierachy before anyone knew that a problem existed and helpfully told me it wouldn't be solved because it wasn't an OFCOM requirement and that the arrangements for exchanging text messages between the mobile operators were "a bit of a mess"...

        1. goldcd

          Re: Why don't OFCOM handle this?


          Normally when I get my new SIM from the new operator, the last action I do with the old SIM is just re-direct to the new 'temporary' number. Pop in the new SIM and wait for the porting-magic - and then I realize texts to my old number are vanishing into the void.

  9. NogginTheNog
    Thumb Up


    I have to agree they have a point, but I for one will be a bit sad if the process is simplified: I rather enjoy squeezing the current provider when I tell them I'm going elsewhere. It's fun working those retention droids hard - I had one guy from Three calling me 3 days on the run trying to get me to stay once (it worked eventually!).

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Kyorin

    Stop bigging up Three!

    Stop blowing sunshine up Three's backside, otherwise too many people will move over to them and my excellent coverage and performance might be impacted as a result. As you've probably worked out, I'm a very happy Three customer and have been so for many years, I get 4G at no extra cost, and my SIM only plan is only £6.90 per month. Happy days.

    1. Dazzz

      Re: Stop bigging up Three!

      Agreed, I have a an excellent calling plan after ringing Three to leave some years ago because they didnt have a handset I wanted to upgrade to, so I bought the handset I wanted and got a cheap plan for calls/text/data that is less than 6 quid a month, never used it anywhere near the limits it has.

      I bought an iphone this week walked across to the Three shop and got a nano sim and my number ported across to it in 10 minutes, zero cost. The guy doing it smiled when he saw my details and said I couldnt get a cheaper plan unless they started paying me to use it... :-)

      Looking forward to 4G being turned on here before the end of the year as well.

      Always had decent service from their support lines as well on the few times I have had a query.

  12. Slx

    The process in Ireland is very, very easy and nearly instantaneous.


    Confirm its your mobile by sending a text to your phone with a verification code or, in a shop they'll just call you from their landline to confirm it's s you. Once that's done, your phone is ported.

    For bill pay you simply give your new operator your mobile number and account number. Once that's done and they've done their credit check on you, your port is competed without any need to call or interact with your old network.

    For landlines you just need the UAN number which is at the top of every bill, PSTN, cable, VoIP etc if it's providing a landline number it has a UAN. You give that & your phone number to the new operator, they do a 3rd party verification (if done on the phone) and once done, you're transferred to the new provider,

    If you're still in contract your network can a) block the port or b) send you a bill including their early termination fee.

    Whole process is automated and it's been like this since about 2001

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