Categories
News

Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – To port or not to port, that is the question

This week I thought I’d look at mobile number portability having experienced it twice in the past month. Both experiences were very different but both were frustrating in their own way. My wife ported her number from 3 to O2 and from a technical perspective the process went very smoothly. However getting a PAC code in the first place was a challenge as the customer service agents tried every delaying tactic possible (including providing misleading information) and even continued to call her after she’d ported her number to O2! My port from a minor T-Mobile MVNO to Vodafone was a technical disaster. Initially everything worked on Vodafone but after a few hours the number went out of service. I could make calls but inbound calls and SMS failed. Callers were greeted with a ‘you have dialled an incorrect number’ message. Because of the weekend it took four days to resolve the problem! The problem turned out to be a failure on T-Mobile’s part to correctly port all the number data to Vodafone and it required considerable effort from Vodafone to resolve the problem. Both the MVNO and T-Mobile claimed everything had been done correctly, which only served to delay the resolution of the issue.

Talking to people it’s interesting to hear how often porting goes wrong and it wasn’t until I started looking at it that I realised how deficient porting is in the UK compared to other countries. Uniquely in the UK we have donor led porting where the customer has to contact the donor operator to obtain authorisation to port. Elsewhere in Europe and worldwide recipient led porting is the norm where the customer contacts the receiving operator and asks them to port in their number. One of the problems with donor led porting is it can be anti-competitive as it allows the donor operator to use delaying tactics, such as my wife experienced. The other issue we have in the UK is that we don’t yet have a central database of numbers for routing. Ported numbers are still routed via the original network which is inefficient and users can experience problems if there is a network failure in the original network. In addition, in the UK porting still takes 2 days whereas elsewhere in the world it is much quicker; 20 minutes in Ireland, 3 minutes in Australia! Belatedly, Ofcom is keen to move to all-call query of a common database of numbers (ACQ/CDB) to improve the management and call routing for ported numbers. I spoke to Ofcom for an update on their plans but they were unable to provide any information on the future of mobile porting, apart from stating their commitment to a two hour porting timeframe from 1 September 2009. This is an area I’m going to be keeping an eye on because it could work so much better.

The changes afoot at Mobile Industry Review mean that this will be my last weekly piece here. Thank you to everyone who’s read, commented and supported MIR. However I will continue to write about pertinent mobile issues, Normobs and the rest over at Sevendotzero, so don’t forget to check in there!

Jonathan’s also at Sevendotzero.

4 replies on “Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – To port or not to port, that is the question”

What amazes me is the number of people who still don't port their number. I'm always getting texts or facebook requests saying “I've lost my phone / changed my number”. WTF?

Terence
[Not speaking for Corporate Behemoth Vodafone with whom I have an employment relationship]

Have you ported your number recently?

I love watching this take place in a Carphone Warehouse. You hang around trying to buy a pair of headphones in a queue of 6 people whilst the customer at the desk is talking with somebody at Orange or o2 or wherever.

“Yes, I'd like to get my PAC,” says the bewildered customer with the Carphone Warehouse chappy nodding encouragingly.

“Oh, you'll triple my minutes and give me a new handset free?” says the customer.

The sales chap's face drops, “Say no!! Say no!!” he begs his customer. He's already spent 45 minutes trying to convince the customer to churn (i.e. earn decent commission for him).

“AND you'll give me £5.00 line rental instead of £25 per month?” says the customer, listening to their incumbent.

“And you'll send me that top of the range handset out to me for 9am tomorrow?”

Get past that whole experience and even the best of us is sat wondering precisely when our number will swap and whether it will actually work…

I guess a lot of people can't be bothered because they're not that attached to their number. Also, it's a chance to get a new number if for some reason you don't like or can't easily remember your old number. Numbers can be strange things! Maybe also an opportunity to 'lose touch' with some people!

I guess a lot of people can't be bothered because they're not that attached to their number. Also, it's a chance to get a new number if for some reason you don't like or can't easily remember your old number. Numbers can be strange things! Maybe also an opportunity to 'lose touch' with some people!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.