Ofcom launches consultation into number portability

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Options to be discussed include “gaining provider-led switching” or simplifying procedure for getting PAC code

Ofcom has launched a consultation on the process used to change mobile providers and port their number.

The current process requires a consumer wishing to port their number to first inform their provider and request a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC), which they must provide within 24 hours. That code, which is valid for one month, must then be issued to their new provider in order to retain their existing number.

Ofcom said it is concerned that this process has led to some operators making it deliberately difficult to switch provider and as of last month, opened an investigation in to arrangements for cancelling services.

It comes just a month after Mobile News revealed dealers in B2B accused operators of “dirty tricks” on number portability, using the current methods to delay providing PAC codes and ultimately prevent customers from leaving. Full story here  

The regulator has already requested feedback from UK operators on the current system, and is now inviting comments from operators and other parties involved in the industry for ideas on how to change the porting process. Interested parties must submit comment by October 6.

Ofcom has already suggested the introduction of its “gaining-operator led service”, that would cut out the part where customers have to contact the network they are leaving.

It is also considering simplifying the process for obtaining PAC, without providing examples on how, while it promised to extend the investigation to include triple-play services.

Ofcom chief executive Sharon White said: “Consumers should be able to switch their mobile providers with minimum hassle to take advantage of the best deals on the market.

“Ofcom has recently made switching easier for millions of broadband users, and we are now focusing on improving the process for mobile customers.”

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