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Home / Advice & Information / Switching Providers

Switching Providers

This page contains:

  • Switching between Providers

  • Changing to a new Service Provider

  • Switching on receipt of a contract change notification

  • Save activity

  • What does it cost?

  • Switching to a new Mobile Service Provider

  • Which one should I choose?

  • Terms and conditions

  • How long will it take

  • Universal Account Number UAN

  • When a UAN is not necessary

  • Number Portability

When an end-user chooses to switch service they can contact their new service provider who should take responsibility for leading the switching process and for coordinating with the transferring service provider.

This end-user will agree the contract for the new service with the receiving service provider and a start date. If required, the receiving service provider will notify the transferring service provider that they must cease providing service according to the terms of their contract, once the new service has been established.

End-users should confirm this with the receiving service provider and only if necessary contact the transferring service provider to inform of the service and contract cessation date.

In the event that an end-user  is being incorrectly billed for the provision of two services simultaneously we recommend that they contact ComReg for assistance to resolve the issue.

The European Electronic Communications Code sets out the regulatory framework for the communications sector, including obligations in respect of provider switching.

Further advice on switching can be found below.

Switching between Providers

To transfer services from one company to another, you have to do one of the following:

  • sign a customer authorisation form (known as CAF), or
  • complete an online authorisation form (eCAF), or
  • confirm your consent over the telephone. This can happen in one of two ways:
    • Third Party Verification (TPV) which is a process where an independent party is asked to confirm whether the your information is accurate or to validate your intent, or
    • VCaf which is very similar to TPV except that the call is not passed to an independent party. Authorisation is given to an employee of the service provider.

For eCAF and TPV/VCaf cases a signature is not required to authorise the switch. They are legally binding contracts, just the same as a signed contract.

In the event of a dispute about the legitimacy of the contract, the customer is entitled to request a copy of the authorisation, a signed authorisation form (CAF), or of the recording of the TPV/VCaf, whichever is applicable.

Changing to a new Service Provider

Before changing your service provider, you should check to see if you are still in contract with your existing provider. Most home phone contracts are for a minimum 12 month period, however service providers also offer 18 month and 24 month contracts. If you change providers before the minimum period is over, you will still be charged for the period of time remaining on your first contract. This is known as a cancellation penalty or early termination fee.

Switching on receipt of a contract change notification

If you have received a contract change notification from your current provider and if you do not accept the proposed modification to your contract you can cancel your contract immediately without penalty.

Save activity

When you are cancelling services with your existing provider and you are required to notify your existing provider, you do not have to engage in the so called “save” activity (a “save” activity is effectively your provider offering you up to date information on their prices and product offerings) unless you explicitly give your consent to do so.

What does it cost?

There is no direct charge to consumers to move their number to another service provider. However, you should be aware that you are still liable for any outstanding bills with existing service provider and may, in some cases, be subject to cancellation/early termination fees. If your existing contract specifies a minimum contract period, and you leave before that period has expired, you will usually be charged for the remainder of the contract period.

Switching to a new Mobile Service Provider

Visit ComReg Compare
Mobile Number Portability (MNP) is a facility which allows you to retain your mobile number when moving between mobile networks. This means that if you have an 083, 085, 086, 087  or 089 mobile number, you can move to a new operator and keep your existing mobile number.

The main thing to be aware of when switching from one service provider to another is whether any minimum contract term applies to your existing contract.If you are still within the minimum term of your contract you will be charged early termination fees by your existing provider if you leave before that period is up.

Upgrading or changing to a new package with your existing provider can result in a new minimum term contract – however if this is the case you must have been made aware of it at the time of upgrading and should have been sent an email or asked to sign a new contract stating this.

All you have to do to port your number is to contact the new provider and advise them that you wish to sign up to their service.

Which one should I choose?

This is entirely up to you.  You should review your call pattern and establish what the important criteria for your needs are.
You will need to consider the following when choosing your mobile operator:

  • Network coverage
  • Handset
  • Discount Schemes
  • Travel abroad (roaming agreements)
  • Tariff options
  • Payment schemes
  • Additional services available

ComReg Compare is a free and user friendly calculator which allows you to insert your mobile usage and preferred handset and view what plans are on the market to suit your needs.

Terms and conditions

Before deciding on a mobile phone operator, you should ask the mobile phone company any questions that are particular to your needs. Remember, you have the right to call your operator and ask them for your terms and conditions to be sent to you. Standard terms and conditions are usually available on the provider’s website.

You should familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions prior to agreeing to a contract of service with your service provider. In particular you should check:

  • how long the minimum contract period lasts
  • whether a minimum spend is required
  • penalties, if any, apply for ending the contract early

Terms and Conditions would also typically cover some of the following elements:

  • Connection charges
  • Monthly rental fees
  • Call costs (usually per minute or per second rates)
  • Disconnection and reconnection charges
  • International roaming charges

How long will it take

Most changes should be made within a few hours. The processes are designed to make moving your number to a new network as timely and straightforward as possible.

Universal Account Number UAN

In 2010, ComReg amended the conditions of the General Authorisation. It is now mandatory for all service providers to include a Universal Account Number (UAN) on each bill. If the service provider in question does not use UANs, they must include any account reference number that the customer can use if they wish to switch providers.

In some circumstances a consumer will need a a Universal Account Number UAN to switch their service from one provider to another. If this applies to you the UAN should be displayed on your bill. If you encounter an issue where the UAN is not on your bill please request this from your service provider. If you do not receive this please contact ComReg’s consumer care team.

When a UAN is not necessary

When a customer first sets up a service with eir, they will receive an Eir Account Number (EAN). When they go on to switch providers it becomes known as the Universal Account Number (UAN).

Customers of Magnet, Smart Telecom and Virgin Media may not have a UAN allocated to them as they provide their own infrastructure and are not part of the eir wholesale network.  Instead, the consumer should simply need to provide their landline telephone number and account number.  This should be sufficient information to organise switching to another operator.

Number Portability

Porting or switching can mean transferring your mobile number between providers or moving your landline number from one location to another, this could include a broadband service also.

The Regulations provide that consumers who have concluded an agreement to port a number to a new provider must have that number activated within a reasonable timeframe, this does not include your broadband service so always check as to how long it will take to switch your broadband service.

If a consumer experiences any delays during this process they may lodge a complaint as normal with their service provider.

As always please contact your service provider if the forecasted date of the switch does not happen. If the complaint is not responded in a timely manner, you can contact ComReg and we can raise as appropriate.

It is possible to keep your landline number when moving to a new address, as long as the new location is serviced by the same telephone exchange.

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