Communications regulator Ofcom are due to rule on the issue of mobile phone number porting this week, deciding whether networks have to complete the process for consumers within one day.
Shoppers eager to look for a better deal are often hamstrung by the protracted process of number porting, and research conducted by comparison site uSwitch has discovered that 18 million mobile users have never bothered to switch, costing them a potential £1.5bn of savings.
On the other hand, uSwitch claims that more than 11 million savvy consumers have managed to port their number in the last 12 months, netting savings in excess of £895 million - £81 each per year – from moving networks in search of a better deal.
Porting a mobile number usually requires the consumer to request a ‘PAC’ – porting authorisation code – from their current provider to release their mobile number for use on a new network. It is the process of receiving this code which seems the most drawn out, causing a protracted period where users are often stuck between networks on a temporary number for as long as 48 hours.
3 has been the only network to champion speeding up the process, as well as shifting the number porting duties from the donor operator to the recipient. The UK is currently the only country where the network you are moving from is in control of releasing the mobile number, not necessarily the carrier interested in an expedient transition…
Ofcom claimed that the porting process could occur in as little as two hours, as is the case in countries including Ireland, Australia and the United States. Vodafone claimed that it would cost operators as much as £37 million in revenue to change the current porting process, with the other major networks supporting this opinion. If passed, the networks will be expected to make these changes by the middle of next year.
IN RELATED NEWS – Ofcom are also looking into reducing charges for connecting calls across networks, in a move which could save consumers an additional £1 billion per year.
At present, mobile charges are approximately 4.7p per minute to connect calls from landlines or a mobile network other than your own. Ofcom is touted to recommend that this charge be capped at 2p, meaning carriers can charge each other – and in turn the consumer – less for phone calls.
Once again, the major networks claim that this will not necessarily be in their best interest, claiming that the revenue lost will be offset by raising monthly line rental, increased pricing for subsidised handsets or even removing their most competitive prepay deals. Both BT and 3 welcome the move, with the former pledging to pass the saving on landline calls to their millions of subscribers, whilst the latter claims their revenues have been lean due to big mobile termination rate fees.
We think that moves to put the humble consumer in a far greater position to both move networks freely, and pay better rates when they get there have to be a good thing. More details on Ofcom’s decisions – and the effect on your bills – when we get them.
If you need help on porting your mobile number, check out this comprehensive number porting guide, courtesy of uSwitch.
Source: Domain-b, Mobile News