Vodafone, Orange, O2 and T-Mobile decided that the matter could not move forward in light of the Competition Appeal Tribunal, which ruled in Vodafone’s favour against Ofcom and 3.
The opportunity was sensed after the court ruled in Vodafone’s favour (backed by Orange, O2, T-Mobile and BT) after the regulator’s case fell apart due to inaccurate information and mis-calculations on the estimated costs of moving to two-hour porting periods.
Ofcom now has to seek difficult court orders to drag the networks back to the table and force them to meet its expectations of two-hour porting times.
Sources close to the matter said it has delayed the process by at least nine months, making mid-2010 the earliest time a customer can switch networks within two hours.
The regulator had successfully pushed to move porting times down from seven days to two days in November 2007, but it was seen as just a stop-gap before it secured two-hour porting periods.
Ofcom expressed ‘disappointment’ at the networks, and said it would consider its options, adding: ‘It is regretted that the industry has missed a chance to make progress without the need for further regulatory action.’
It means the company, UK Porting, set up by the regulator with the networks’ agreement is effectively not operating.
It is likely to prove a considerable setback to faster porting times as it will require a new order or greater incentives to bring operators back to discussions.