New guidelines established by telecommunications regulator Ofcom will enable mobile users in UK to port their phone numbers to a new service provider within hours.
To switch from one phone network to another, customers require a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC) from the operator they are leaving. Ofcom’s new rules require that operators issue PACs immediately over the phone or within a maximum of two hours by text message.
Previously some operators issued PACs via post, which could take several days to arrive.
In 2007, Ofcom tried to get mobile providers to reduce porting times to two hours from two days by September 2009. Vodafone appealed the decision at the Competition Appeals Tribunal, causing the delay. Ofcom gave mobile providers another two years to get their act together. As a result the new requirement has now come into force.
Customers still have 30 days to forward the code to their new provider .
According to Ofcom research, in 2010 eight per cent of all people with a mobile phone switched provider.
Ofcom also warned users that in spite of being much easier than it was before, mobile portability by no means guarantees a better deal or improved coverage on the new network.
A recent study, approved by Ofcom, found that Britons waste £5 billion on their mobile phone bills each year by choosing tariffs that badly match their phone usage.