Mobile phone users must be able to port their numbers to a new network within one working day from April next year, Ofcom has ruled.
The new rules due to come into force next year will also specify that a customer requesting a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC) by phone must be given one either immediately during the call or by SMS text message within 2 hours.
The process of actually porting the number begins when the user's new operator, having been given the PAC by the user, requests the transfer from the old operator. From that point porting can currently take up to two working days - this having been reduced from a limit of five working days in 2008.
3 had hoped to move to a so-called "recipient led" porting system which would require no action from the user beyond getting a deal with their new operator of choice. The new operator could then take care of the porting process without any need for the user to obtain a PAC from the former operator.
However the other operators argued that this might lead to mobile "slamming" (where unscrupulous salesmen switch a customer to another provider without them realising this will happen). It might also lead to problems where a user decided to switch while still bound to their current operator by contract.
Full details of the new rules are available from Ofcom in pdf here. ®