Wireless subscribers in the United Kingdom (UK) may benefit from the same process for mobile number portability that is used in the U.S., contingent upon enactment of proposed rules by British telecom regulator Ofcom that would simplify the portability process for customers who switch wireless carriers. 

Published this week, the Ofcom proposal would modify or replace current rules that require wireless subscribers to contact their current carrier for a special code that they need to transfer their phone number to a new service provider.  Explaining the impetus behind the proposal, Ofcom noted that 38% of UK wireless customers that switched carriers during the past 18 months reported at least “one major problem during the process” that included (1) difficulties in contacting their current carrier, (2) difficulties in canceling their existing wireless service, (3) temporary loss of wireless service, and (4) difficulties in retaining their current mobile phone number. 

As such, Ofcom is requesting public input on one of two possible remedies.  The first remedy, which is preferred by Ofcom, is replacement of the existing rule with a new procedure that would shift number porting responsibility from the customer to the new, or “gaining” carrier. That procedure resembles the mobile number porting process that is used by carriers in the U.S.  The second proposed remedy would modify current rules to permit wireless customers to access the required switching code online or by text message. 

Comments on the proposals will be accepted through June 1.  Declaring it “unacceptable for people to be missing out on better mobile deals because they fear the hassle of switching,” Ofcom Chief Executive Sharon White stressed:  “we want mobile customers to benefit from speedier, simpler switching, making it easier for them to vote with their feet.”