Vodafone appeals number porting plans


A Vodafone-led appeal against Ofcom’s ruling to implement two-hour mobile number portability (MNP) next year will be heard in the Competition Appeal Tribunal on June 18.

The move follows all UK networks reducing porting times from five days to two on March 16, ahead of Ofcom’s deadline of March 31.

Ofcom announced in November last year that two-hour transfers must be in place by September 1, 2009, and must be customer-led rather than network-led, via a central database. The regulator said it would promote competition and be easier for consumers.

Vodafone launched its appeal against the proposals last month. It believes it would cost 10 times more to implement than the £12 million Ofcom has estimated.

A Vodafone spokeswoman said: “Vodafone believes Ofcom’s decision is insufficiently researched, will prove more costly than it assumes and will not benefit customers.”

O2 and Orange have registered their support for Vodafone with the Competition Appeal Tribunal. T-Mobile is understood to have also done so, but was unavailable for comment.

An O2 spokesperson said: “It would be prudent to be represented at the hearing because we may have some evidence that might be helpful to the Tribunal.”

O2 said it was concerned customer-led MNP would create more opportunities for slamming and mis-selling.

A spokesperson from Orange added: “We’ve advised Ofcom the timescale for implementing the further change to a recipient-led, two-hour porting process runs the risk of causing more problems than it solves.”

3 and Virgin Mobile are the only ones to support two-hour MNP. A 3 spokesman said 3 was eager to see the system introduced, as the model had already been implemented in the Australian and Irish markets, and had proven successful.

Virgin Mobile managing director Graeme Oxby said customers should not “be made to jump through hoops” if they wanted to take their old number to their new network.

“The logistical issues that have prevented almost instant porting should be overcome by Ofcom’s proposed central data base, which will also mean customers only have to make one phone call to the network they want to join and to port their number,” said Oxby.


Providers: join scheme or face fines

Ofcom has announced communications providers must sign-up to an independent dispute resolution scheme, or be fined up to 10 per cent of their turnover.

The schemes, such as CISAS or Otelo, are designed to deal with consumer complaints.

Ofcom will conduct an investigation to target communications providers who have failed to join such a scheme. It has also extended its investigation into mis-selling by fixed-line companies.

Meanwhile, Ofcom has announced its budget for 2008/09 will be £133.7 million; 1.5 per cent lower than 2007/08 and 17.5 per cent lower than 2004/05.

In 2007/08, it also finished repaying a £52.3 million loan from the Government.