You know when you walk into a mobile store here in the UK and swap to another provider, you have to go through a whole load of hoop-jumping in order to actually KEEP your number and swap it to your new provider.
And it takes days.
DAYS and in some occasions, weeks of arsing about. Sometimes it’s nice and smooth – 2-3 days. The standard is seven days. Enough to put most people off.
The worst element of the whole process is that you have to phone up your old provider and asking for a porting number — a PAC code. When you do this, you’re bamboozled with special offers, one-off credit contributions, new handsets, and often — particularly in T-Mobile UK’s case — crazy deals to stay (like £5/month line rentals!).
When you’re standing in the shop on the phone to your old provider trying to get your PAC code it’s rather easy to forget the aggravation and stay where you are. The sales process for the new network, trying to win your business, is, as a result, a total bind.
The actual transition can be a pain too. Your old number stops working. Then you HOPE that all the paperwork and all the systems are setup and hopefully.. HOPEFULLY… your existing number is transferred the next day and it works. Hopefully.
3 haven’t been impressed with this process. As the challenger brand in the UK wanting to win more customers (swapping their primary numbers to them) they aren’t entirely happy with this seven-day-wait for porting.
Neither am I. Neither is the rest of the UK population.
Vodafone and the other incumbents are perfectly content with it. And why not? It’s a super, super commercial advantage.
3 and OFCOM, the UK telecoms regulator, have been working their way through the courts with Vodafone on this matter. MobileToday has a good overview. I’ve been hearing from quite a few readers who are rather annoyed at the news Vodafone has won the case.
3’s spokesman is livid:
A 3 spokesman said today: Ã¢â‚¬ËœHow is it that Vodafone, 3 and O2 customers, just over the sea in Ireland, have been able to move their mobile number between operators in around 20 minutes for many years. This means British consumers are in danger of being delayed yet-again in gaining the same right. It also leaves Britain as the only major economy where you still have to ask your old operator for permission to move your number rather than enabling the new operator to look after the process for you.’
This will change.
In the fullness of time.
At some point, the legislation will be pushed through.
But meantime, Big Red and it’s incumbent colleagues are sitting pretty.
Half of me agrees with some of the technicalities discussed — it does deserve some in-depth thought as the Voda lady points out:
A spokeswoman for Vodafone said: Ã¢â‚¬ËœVodafone welcomes this unanimous judgement. It confirms Vodafone’s view that any major change affecting all the UK’s phone users needs to be fully thought through before firm decisions are taken to go ahead.’
The other half of me is wholly indignant that *I* can’t easily manage my own identity — my mobile number — like I do my domain names, and point them to my provider of choice as I see fit.
You can read the full judgement here. (PDF)