Local number portability basically guarantees that any user, private or corporate, who wishes to keep his or her original phone number while changing telecom provider may do so at no cost, or with a very minimal fee. Local number portability has been a key element in the telecoms deregulation movement in every country, with local regulators forcing every operator to allow their departing or incoming clients to keep their number.
Local number portability has other benefits for users, such as increasing their inclination to change to other service providers, thereby increasing competition on the market, which in turns results to more choices and cheaper communication prices.
On their side, communications service providers realise this practice encourages innovations in technology, stimulates demand for services and growth.
In the US, local number portability was mandated in 1996 by the Telecommunications Act. In the UK, this was allowed for mobile numbers in 1999, and is now formalised on the General Conditions of Entitlement document issued by Ofcom in 2003, pursuant to EU Legislation.
This document further protects the consumer by providing that:
- The current Service Provider has the obligation to provide the customer with a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC) or explain why the PAC cannot be issued within 2 working hours of the customer’s request (if for less than 26 numbers) or 10 working days (if 26+ numbers).
- The PAC is valid for a period of 30 calendar days, this period starts when the PAC is issued and the customer's request must be submitted to their new Service Provider within that time.
- The number of the customer can then be transferred anytime between 1 and 32 calendar days from the date the PAC is issued.
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