2/28/2008 10:13:00 AM
Vodafone challenges Ofcom over porting
Vodafone is trying to block 3 and Ofcom’s calls to speed up the time it takes to port mobile numbers by claiming the move will result in a surge in ‘slamming’ cases.
Vodafone has secured Orange as an ally amid concerns that a shorter porting period and a shift to recipient-led porting of mobile customers will increase cases where consumers are switched to another network without their consent.
Critics have said the two networks are using slamming as an excuse because they fear faster porting times will result in a spike in legitimate churn.
Number porting is to be reduced from seven to two days by 31 March, but Vodafone has appealed to the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT).
Vodafone is also claiming Ofcom’s £12m estimate of the cost of developing the IT for the change is incorrect by ‘a factor of 10’, according to a spokeswoman.
A date for the case will be set at a pre-trial hearing on 5 March, but networks that want to intervene only have until tomorrow to register.
A spokeswoman for Orange said: ‘Orange is aware that Vodafone is challenging Ofcom’s regulation of number portability and we intend formally to register our interest with the CAT as the outcome will inevitably have a significant impact on us.’
Time is running out for Vodafone to find more allies. BT isn’t ruling out intervening on behalf of Vodafone, its MVNO partner. A spokeswoman said the telecoms company is ‘considering its position’.
T-Mobile declined to comment, but O2 distanced itself from any opposition to Ofcom’s plans.
A spokeswoman for O2 said: ‘We will be introducing two-day port lead times two weeks ahead of the regulatory requirement.’
3, which has the most to gain from faster porting, is siding with Ofcom to speed up porting times.
Fears that recipient-led porting could increase slamming were dismissed by the Irish telecoms regulatory body ComReg.
In Ireland, where O2 and 3 operate, and where Vodafone has a 45% share, mobile numbers have always been ported in two hours or under.
A spokeswoman for ComReg said: ‘We’re not aware of any increase in slamming because of mobile number portability.
‘[Fast number portability] has been really popular in this country - it increases options and choices for consumers.’