Two-hour mobile phone number transfer plan stallsVodafone forces Ofcom’s fast porting plan to slow.

24 September 2008

Ofcom logo

The competition appeal tribunal (CAT) has ruled that phone services regulator Ofcom must reconsider plans that would have enabled consumers to receive calls using their existing phone number within two hours of moving to a new mobile network.

The move follows Ofcom’s earlier decision to reduce the time it takes to transfer an existing phone number between networks from five days to two days from April, 1 2008. Ofcom had hoped to put the two hour phone number transfer process in place by September 2009.

Vodafone’s challenge

Vodafone – supported by O2, Orange and T-Mobile – challenged Ofcom’s plans, claiming that Ofcom had not conducted a sufficiently rigorous analysis of the costs and benefits of establishing two-hour mobile number portability prior to making its ruling.

Three mobile, however, supports two hour mobile number portability. Three points out that in Ireland where the process is recipient-led (handled by the operator that the customer chooses to join) the process takes a maximum of two hours, and often only a few minutes.

Two hour mobile transfer requires further consideration

However, the competition appeal tribunal ruled on 18 September 2008 that Vodafone’s appeal against Ofcom’s plans was well founded and has advised Ofcom that it must reconsider its plans. Ofcom is giving careful consideration to the CAT judgment and is considering next steps.

Fancy a new mobile deal?

Despite issues surrounding mobile phone number portability, most people find switching between providers easy, according to Which? research.

Which? telecoms expert, Ceri Stanaway, says: ‘It’s a shame that the CAT’s decision has thrown a spanner into the works regarding Ofcom’s plans to make it quicker for customers to transfer their mobile number.

‘But this shouldn’t put people off switching their mobile deal. You can almost always keep your existing mobile phone number, even if it takes a couple of days to transfer to your new mobile phone provider, and most people find switching easy.

‘It’s especially worth checking out the new deals available if you’ve had your current deal and handset for a long time. Mobile phone operators change their mobile tariffs and mobile handsets constantly so it’s worth shopping around to see if you can get a better mobile deal than you’re on at the moment.’

Take a look at Which? reviews of Best Buy mobile handsets to help you through the mobile maze.

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