Ofcom calls for MNP timeframe to drop to two hours

4 Aug 2009

Britain’s telecoms regulator Ofcom has unveiled proposals to decrease the amount of time needed for mobile number portability (MNP). Ofcom has called for the time it takes to switch providers to be reduced to as little as two hours, down from the current two day timeframe for the process. The regulator has also drawn attention to the fact that British mobile customers are still obliged to call their existing provider if they wish to switch to another operator; Ofcom has suggested that as part of new regulations this practice could be done away with. The proposals follow similar initiatives in 2007 by the regulator to reduce the time for MNP, when the turnaround time for the service fell from five days to two days. Recent attempts by Ofcom to introduce the two-hour timeframe have met with resistance from mobile operators, with both Vodafone UK and O2UK lodging legal challenges that blocked a regulatory decision calling for implementation of the faster switch time.

Ofcom has also launched a separate consultation setting out proposals to simplify the way that calls between mobiles to ported numbers are routed. At present a call to a ported number is first routed to the provider that was originally allocated the phone number in question; the call is then transferred to the customer’s new provider. The regulator claims that by simplifying this process it could save the industry up to GBP26 million (USD43.7 million) over a ten-year period. Ofcom said it hopes to have any new porting process arrangements in place during 2011 and any changes to call routing in place by the end of 2012.

The regulator has launched consultations on both issues, and the closing date for submissions is 26 October 2009.

United Kingdom, Ofcom