9/25/2008 12:35:00 PM
Vodafone wins courtcase against Ofcom and 3 over number porting
Vodafone won the court case against Ofcom and 3 last Thursday (18 September), effectively stopping the attempt to speed up the time it takes to port a mobile number from one network provider to another.
3 supported Ofcom arguing for a change to the current legislation to move the porting time period from seven days to around 24 hours.
3 views the current system of number porting as a major regulatory obstacle in its aim of doubling its subscriber base.
The regulator and 3 were alone in challenging Vodafone, as the operator was supported by O2, Orange, T-Mobile and BT.
Ofcom is now considering its next moves in light of the judgment. A spokeswoman said: ‘Ofcom remains committed to delivering improvements to the current fixed and mobile number portability arrangements and will consider, in co-operation with industry stakeholders, how best to take this policy forward in the light of the CAT judgment.’
Furthermore, 3 wanted to turn the power balance of number porting on its head. Currently, a customer wishing to change network but retain their phone number must personally acquire a PAC code from their old network to give to the new network. This current system means the old network is given the opportunity to offer a preferential deal to try to retain the customer, giving the new network no second chance to compete for the new customer.
The win for Vodafone means that legislation concerning number portability for fixed lines will not change. Vodafone thinks that the legislation is inexplicably linked to mobile lines. A spokeswoman for the operator said: ‘Vodafone 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.’
A 3 spokesman said: ‘How 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.
‘Ofcom is trying to achieve fast, hassle-free mobile number porting to give UK consumers flexibility and choice, but the incumbents have consistently put up roadblocks.’