Mobile phone numbers to become more mobile thanks to Ofcom proposals

17 July 2007
It will soon be easier for mobile phone users to keep their numbers even when they transfer to a different network, thanks to new proposals from Ofcom.

Ofcom today unveiled plans for a new process that will make it much simpler to switch suppliers without having to swap numbers.

The plans, due to come into force in 2 years, mean that transferred numbers will need to be up and running on the customer’s new network within 2 hours.

The proposals also demand that the current time frame of having the process completed within 5 working days is changed to two working days until the new 2 hour limit comes into force.

The reason behind the proposals is to ensure that consumers are able to select a new mobile provider, purchase a new SIM card and receive calls using their old number as quickly as possible.

The current process takes a long time and the responsibility for switching the number is on the customer, not the network, and Ofcom’s research shows that of those customers that have switched their number to a new network, about half think the process could be improved.

Ed Richards, Ofcom CEO, commented: “The UK was one of the first countries to introduce number portability and this has helped create a competitive mobile market in the UK.

“However, the original process is now out-of-date. We believe that the industry should introduce a new system which will stimulate competition and encourage consumers to exercise choice between competing suppliers with a minimum of inconvenience.”

Karen Darby, founder of SimplySwitch.com, supports the move. She said: “Switching suppliers is excellent for competition and we welcome any move that makes changing mobile networks quicker and easier.

“While the current switching process is straightforward, in an age of super-fast technology, it is lengthy and outdated and adds an unnecessary stumbling block for people looking to transfer.”

Compare Mobile Phone Tariffs