Some people are intimidated by the idea of switching mobile network. They think that they’ll be without service for weeks or that they’ll need to change their mobile number losing their old one. In actual fact, the process is very quick and easy and you can keep your old number. You shouldn’t experience any downtime at all and porting your number should only take a single business day.
First things first
Before you switch network, you need to be sure you want to change as well as decide which network you want to change to. It’s a good idea to read reviews before you make a decision as the price, customer service and available feature will all affect your decision. You should also understand the difference between a mobile network and virtual network. Even cheap normal mobile network operators like 3 are often more expensive than virtual operators such as Giffgaff. As well as checking reviews of your new network, you should also look into the coverage in your area. Although all mobile networks cover 99% of the UK, some will provide better mobile signal in places you commonly use you phone (like home and work) than others. Also, be aware that 3G coverage coverage varies quite a lot too so if you use the internet on your phone check whether you’ll be able to get a strong signal for fast data usage.
Keeping your mobile number
Once you’ve decided on the network you want to change to, if you want to keep your existing mobile number you’ll need to get your PAC code from your existing operator. To help you do this, we have an article describing how to get your PAC code and a letter template in case you’re having difficulties.
Usually getting your PAC is as simple as calling up your mobile network and asking for it. They should either give it to you immediately or text it to you within a couple of hours.
Choosing a new network and getting a new SIM
Firstly, you obviously have to carefully choose which network you want to change to. Of course, with so many choices, this can be rather confusing. Which is why we’ve handily reviewed all the UK mobile networks and included a summary of their pricing as well as a detailed analysis of their coverage, customer service and the various special offers and bundles that are available.
Once you’ve decided which network will be the best match for you, you need to get a new SIM card. There is no way to change networks and keep your old SIM but don’t worry – you can still keep your old mobile number. To get your SIM, either go to the review page for your chosen network or look on our list of free SIM card links – you can order a new SIM card online and it will be delivered quickly to you at home.
Before you chuck away your old SIM make sure you backup any information that might have been stored on it. Typically most data is saved on your phone not your SIM so this is unnecessary but do check that important contacts and messages are not on your old SIM card before throwing it away.
Once you’ve got your new SIM and your PAC you’re ready to change. Phew! First, activate your new SIM – you usually do this by making a £10 top-up (some networks such as Giffgaff give you free credit when you activate). Contact your new network and give them your PAC – they should book you in for a mobile number port (this will usually be the next working day). Then, when the day arrives, sit back and relax as your new network does all the hard work for you.
Keep your old SIM in your phone to start with. You will experience a loss of service at some stage depending on when your old service provider releases your number. The error message on your screen should say something like “SIM card registration failed”. You can now put your new SIM into your mobile. Then just switch your mobile off and on again – this causes the network search to start and you’ll soon find that your new SIM is fully activated with your old number transferred in. Congratulations!