In July 2019, major reforms were introduced in the UK to simplify the process for consumers to switch mobile phone providers. These auto-switch reforms, mandated by telecoms regulator Ofcom, enabled customers to easily request a porting code or cancel their mobile contract via a simple free text message.

Previously, customers often had to phone their provider and negotiate unwanted retention efforts before being able to switch networks. By establishing new automated channels, the reforms aimed to reduce the difficulties and hassle consumers faced when trying to change providers.

Cenerva was appointed by leading UK mobile operators, via the UK Mobile Number Portability Operator Steering Group, to centrally manage the end-to-end industry implementation of auto-switch capabilities. The workstreams covered:

  • Leading the technical build and testing of auto-switch messaging systems across all major operators and MVNOs
  • Developing specialised integrations with SMS brokers and wholesalers enabling the routing and processing of high-volume text requests
  • Defining customer authentication standards and workflows to securely verify identities for text-based switching
  • Managing internal communications and customer-facing messaging about the new channels
  • Coordinating submission of evidence to Ofcom demonstrating readiness for launch
  • Engaging with Ofcom throughout the implementation period as the industry’s primary conduit

For 18 months, Cenerva consultants operated as the centralised program management office, coordinating across all operators, vendors and partners. Our team:

  • Established working governance for the initiative, including workshops, working groups and executive steering committees
  • Mapped detailed requirements and implementation plans for each operator
  • Monitored progress, identified dependencies and addressed barriers
  • Managed third party vendors involved in developing the technical systems
  • Ran an integrated industry-wide testing and dress rehearsal phase ahead of go-live
  • Provided regular progress reports to Ofcom and addressed outstanding concerns
business meeting

As cited in Ofcom’s recently published ex-post evaluation, Cenerva’s central oversight was instrumental in enabling smooth and timely industry-wide delivery of auto-switch. Specifically, operators said coordination significantly improved once Cenerva consultants were appointed into senior program roles. Our firm’s rigorous methodology kept implementation on track despite the complexity of ecosystems and stakeholders involved.

The auto-switch reforms have proven highly successful since coming into effect:

  • Take-up of the new text/online channels has been greater than anticipated, with most customers now using these automated routes
  • Direct financial benefits to consumers have exceeded original projections due to the high adoption of text switching
  • There are signs that customer engagement and switching rates have increased following the reforms

At Cenerva, we are proud that our central coordination was pivotal in managing the end-to-end implementation of auto-switch capabilities across all major operators. Our leadership enabled the industry to seamlessly transition millions of customers to new porting processes by the regulatory deadline.

By playing this central role, Cenerva was instrumental in realising substantial benefits for consumers – making switching operators significantly easier. We worked intensively across the mobile ecosystem to enable the timely, unified industry response needed for these impactful reforms.

Our consultants’ extensive experience delivering complex transformational programs was integral to the initiative’s success.

Read more about number portability here.

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