- What is mobile number portability?
- What is 'porting'?
- What are the benefits of porting?
- What are the issues to be considered?
- Do I have to keep my number?
- How do I assess whether I should take advantage of mobile number portability?
- Can I switch providers if I'm still on contract with my existing provider?
- Can I change providers if I owe my existing provider money?
- Can I change providers if I'm on a pre-paid service?
- Can I change providers and go to a pre-paid service?
- Does MNP mean that any provider I approach must accept me as a customer?
- Should I cancel my existing service?
- Do I need a new handset or SIM card when I change providers?
- Can I get a new handset when I port, even if it is not required for technical reasons?
- If I can't tell what network somebody is with from the number, how will discounts for calls on the same network operate?
- I've decided to port. Who do I approach, my current mobile provider or the one I'm planning to move to?
- What should the new provider tell me before I port?
- Can my number be ported without my permission?
- Will I get a bill from my former provider?
- What are the steps involved in porting and how long will it take?
- What about all the information, like names and phone numbers, programmed onto my old SIM card?
- Can I nominate the date and time at which my service is ported?
- What about SMS? Will I still be able to send and receive text messages?
- I travel overseas and roam onto other networks. Will international roaming be affected?
- If I'm considering porting to an alternative mobile carrier, how can I find out reliably whether that carrier has adequate coverage for me?
- I am having difficulty porting my number, who can help?
Mobile number portability (MNP) began in Australia on 25 September 2001. The former ACA (a predecessor of the ACMA) set the date in mid-2000, after being directed to set the earliest practicable time by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission( ACCC).
It is the third implementation of number portability in Australia. Local number portability came into full effect at the start of 2000, and portability for 1800, 13 and 1300 numbers was introduced in November 2000.
The concept of MNP allows a user to keep their existing mobile service number when changing carriers or moving from one service provider to another. Customers should ensure that their new service provider offers the services and features that they need, such as voicemail, SMS, data and fax before making a change.
The introduction of MNP does not mean that a customer is obliged to transfer or port their mobile phone number when changing service providers. It merely gives the customer the option.
MNP covers all digital mobile service numbers except for satellite-only mobile services.
Mobile number portability is the ability to take your existing mobile number to a new service with a new provider.
Mobile number portability is not a service feature or a product it is the removal of a barrier to choosing the provider or service that suits you.
'Porting' is the act of transferring your number to a new service, either with a different network or a different provider, or both.
The main benefit of mobile number portability (MNP) is freedom of choice. You are free to choose a new mobile service provider without losing your existing number.
If you are not satisfied with your existing provider, you don't have to stay just to keep your number. If you are in business, keeping your number when changing phone companies means you will avoid missing calls, reprinting stationery and having any signage redone. For individuals it means avoiding the inconvenience of having to notify friends and associates that you've changed your number.
There are a number of issues that consumers should take into account. These include:
- the features of the new service you want. See question 6.
- your existing contract (if any). See question 7.
- whether to change to or from pre-paid. See questions 9 and 10.
- whether to get a new handset. See questions 13 and 14.
- the timing of the change. See question 22.
- possible effects on your use of SMS. See question 23.
- possible effects on international roaming. See question 24.
No, you do not have to keep your number. You can still change to a different provider and get a new number.
MNP is only relevant if you see a benefit in changing mobile service providers. You need to consider if you are on a contract already, and what you might have to pay to your existing provider. This is covered in more detail under question 7.
Think about what you want from a mobile service and whether the benefits of changing outweigh any costs.
- Are you on the right plan? Could you lower your bills by changing the mix of access and call charges? (You may be able to get onto a more suitable plan with your existing provider.)
- Does your network have the coverage you need?
- Would you, your friends or family benefit from discounts if you changed to a particular provider?
- Do you want to change the way you pay for your service, by changing from pre-paid to post-paid or vice-versa?
Your existing provider will bill you for call charges between the last bill and the date of the change. Changing providers does not absolve you of any contractual obligations. Some providers may charge a termination fee or porting fee to transfer the number to another provider. The fees charged are to cover the administration costs of porting your service from your original carrier to your new carrier. The termination fee may be charged for early release of contract.
Yes, you can, but you will still have to pay out your existing contract, just as you would if you simply cancelled your service.
Moving to a new provider may cancel your existing contract, but the obligations you may have to your existing provider remain. You will be required to pay all outstanding call charges. If your existing service is cancelled during a minimum term contract, you will also have to pay out your contract or an early termination fee. You will need to find out from your existing provider exactly what is required in your case.
You should ask your existing provider:
- when does my existing mobile service contract expire?
- will I have to pay an early termination fee or ongoing costs under my existing mobile service contract if I move my number to a new provider? If so, how much is it?
- if I have an outstanding bill, can I pay it in instalments or does it have to be paid in a lump sum?
Yes, but be aware that does not change the debt. You will still owe that provider any outstanding charges.
The existing provider cannot refuse or delay a request to port the existing mobile number to a new service provider because of any outstanding debt. However, you will continue to receive an account from your previous provider until this debt has been fully paid off.
Even if you're up to date with your bills, you will get a bill from your current provider for at least the call charges and network access up to the time you ported.
Yes, you can, but your handset may be locked. Handsets sold as part of a pre-paid service are often 'network SIM-locked' to prevent customers using a SIM card with the handset other than the one issued for the pre-paid service.
If you want to use the same handset you may need to arrange with your existing provider to have your handset unlocked. Some carriers may charge to unlock your handset.
This does not apply if you already owned the phone when you obtained the pre-paid service, or if you are prepared to get a new handset with the new service. But remember that new handsets may increase the cost to you.
If you have been a pre-paid customer and you want to port, you should ask your existing provider:
- is my handset SIM-locked?
- if so, is there a fee to unlock it and how much is it?
An important point for mobile phone users on a pre-paid service is that you will lose any credit you have on your service at the time of the change. That is something to take into account in the timing of a change.
Yes, if your chosen new provider offers you that service.
This will not cancel any contractual obligations you may already have. Check the details of what the new provider is offering and make sure that it suits you. Be aware that you may have to shop around to find a service that suits you.
Note : You should be aware that there are legal requirements about providing name and address information when buying a pre-paid service. Refer to Buying a pre-paid mobile service for further information.
No, it doesn't.
Your current provider has to let you go, but a new provider is able to make a commercial decision about whether to accept you as a customer.
Only an active number can be ported to another provider. It's important that you do not cancel your existing service.
The existing service will be cancelled automatically once the new service is activated.
In most cases, no. Your provider is usually able to provide you with a new SIM card for your existing handset if you would like to keep your existing handset. SIM cards are network and account specific and even if you put the card into a different phone, the charges for the call would appear on your bill or be debited from your pre-paid account.
Yes, if you want to. In most cases you will be entering into a new relationship when you move to a new provider and you may choose to get a new handset. But you don't have to if you are happy with your current handset.
If you do get a new handset, and sign a handset contract to pay for that phone, it is particularly important to check any existing contract in case you are still paying for your current phone.
15. If I can't tell what network somebody is with from the number, how will discounts for calls on the same network operate?
The providers will know who their customers are, so they can still offer the discounts, but callers won't necessarily know if the people they call have switched to a new provider. To avoid unexpected charges, mobile users should confirm with their friends and their associates that they are using the same mobile network.
For more information talk to your service provider.
16. I've decided to port. Who do I approach, my current mobile provider or the one I'm planning to move to?
Go to the new provider.
The new provider will make contact with your existing provider as part of the porting process and inform it that you are porting.
Your new provider will also announce to all other Australian network providers that your number has been ported. This is to ensure callers to your number are successfully connected to your new network.
The new provider should explain the terms and conditions of the new service to you. Make sure you have a record of any special offers or inducements.
The new provider must explain to you that you could still owe money to your existing provider. That is an obligation under the Mobile Number Portability Industry Code. Once you have that information it is up to you to follow it up. The provider you are leaving must, once you ask, tell you what you owe without delay. (See questions 7 and 8).
Any possible debts will most probably arise from the terms and conditions of the contract you signed. For example, if you cancel your service when you are part of the way through a 12 month minimum term contract, you may be required to pay a cancellation fee-or continue to pay the monthly minimum if your existing provider offers you that option.
The new provider is also obliged under the code to ask you to give authorisation confirming the request to change providers and retain the existing mobile number. This authorisation may be written, electronic or by voice. Only the authorised customer can give such an authorisation. The authorised customer is the person whose name is on the mobile service account with the current service provider. Make you have a record of any contract you sign, for future reference.
The new provider must also alert you to 'related services', that is, if you use your mobile service with separate numbers for fax or data. That is important because if you do, arrangements have to cover all the elements of your service at the same time.
If the prospective provider fails to warn you about possible obligations to your existing provider or the port is not properly authorised, the port is invalid.
No, the authorised owner of a service must authorise a port prior to the gaining provider processing the port. If an unauthorised port does occur, contact your service provider as soon as possible and the port can be reversed.
Yes, you are likely to get a final account or a number of accounts to settle your contractual obligations or to pay for the calls and network access you used between your last bill and the time of the switch.
The first step is to choose your new provider.
- You will be asked by the new provider to give authorisation to make the change. That could be in writing (if you sign a form), electronic (by agreeing to certain conditions over the Internet) or verbal (by agreeing to certain conditions over the phone. This conversation must be recorded with your knowledge.).
- Being advised that you may have obligations to your existing provider is part of the authorisation. It is up to you to follow this up.<
- The new provider will ask your existing provider to check that you are the authorised customer, and make sure that your personal information is correct. Personal information includes the account number for post-paid accounts and a reference number or date of birth for pre-paid accounts.
- The new provider may make a credit check. When these procedures are complete, the new provider will advise the former provider and the number will be moved to the new provider. The new provider must inform other carriers of the port so that they can correctly rout calls to your new provider, not your former provider.
- The telecommunications industry has set up automated processes and electronic interchange between carriers to enable porting to take place in around the same time that it would normally take to provide you with a new mobile phone service (if you were not porting). In the vast majority of cases, this is a couple of hours. However, the provision of wrong information, system malfunction, or other practical considerations may cause your port to take slightly longer. If you order your service over the phone, and a handset is to be couriered to you, the porting process is likely to be completed only when you have received your new handset and you are ready to activate your new service. Your new provider will advise you how long the process is expected to take.
- If your new service is a GSM one, you will be getting a new SIM card. If you have put a PIN or other security device to prevent unauthorised use of your phone, you will need to remove or deactivate that security.
- If you arrange your change of provider in some other way, for example, over the phone, or through the Internet, you will have to wait until you receive your new SIM card where your new service is on GSM. In that case, you will probably want to arrange with the new provider to activate the change only after you have the new card. Otherwise you could be left without a service during the changeover period.
Take care not to lose it.
There are a few possibilities, depending on both your handset and the dealer. If you are keeping the handset, check the manual to find out if there is an option to save the information from the SIM into the handset. If you are getting a new handset at the same time, you might want to note down all the information on the old SIM card before it is turned off as part of the cancellation of the old service. Some dealers may have the capacity to download the information from the SIM onto a computer and then to upload it onto the new SIM, but this is not a standard capability for dealers.
Yes, you can and it may be helpful to choose that date-and approximate time-carefully.
If you are moving from a pre-paid service, you may want to use up your credits before you move.
If you receive a lot of calls you may want to time the port for a non-busy time. Note that porting is only available during business hours.
If you have to wait for the new SIM card to arrive by post, you may want to postpone the activation of the new service until it has arrived.
You can nominate a date for porting up to thirty days in advance.
The availability of SMS depends on agreements between network operators, and they may not all have agreements with each other. Ask your new provider about its ability to send and receive SMS.
You should also be aware that delivery of messages to ported numbers from overseas cannot be guaranteed. This is due to the call routing methods employed by overseas carriers, which at present, may fail to route calls to the correct Australian network. Australian mobile carriers are currently investigating the feasibility of solutions to this problem, and you should speak to any potential service provider about their ability to ensure short messages that are sent from overseas will reach you. Messages to overseas destinations will not be affected, which means you will be able to send short messages to the same overseas destinations as other customers of your new network.
Availability of international roaming is dependent on bilateral agreements between your network operator and network operators overseas. The new provider might not have the same agreements as your previous provider. This will only matter if it does not have any agreements with operators in the countries you visit.
You should ask the new provider to which you are considering porting if it has agreements with network operators in the countries which you visit.
25. If I'm considering porting to an alternative mobile carrier, how can I find out reliably whether that carrier has adequate coverage for me?
Providers should be able to supply coverage maps on request. Ask your potential provider if coverage is offered in areas where you wish to utilise your service. It is important that you identify whether the service you wish to acquire is appropriate for your needs and whether a particular carrier can provide coverage in areas you wish to use it. Many providers also provide coverage maps on the Internet.
If you are having difficulty porting your mobile number and you are unable to resolve the problem directly with your provider, you are able to contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) for assistance. The TIO is an independent dispute resolution service that aims to assist individuals and small businesses resolve disputes with their telephone or internet service provider. The TIO can be contacted by calling 1800 062 058 or via the TIO’s website.
Please note that the ACMA is unable to assist with portability complaints, however, the ACMA is able to assist with general portability enquiries. You are able to contact the ACMA with a portability enquiry by sending an email to email@example.com.
This information has been compiled by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the former ACA and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. Information about mobile number portability is also available on the website of the Communications Alliance Ltd.