What is mobile number portability?
Mobile number portability means you can keep your existing mobile telephone number when you change your mobile phone company. However, you can only move an existing number if you are the authorised customer - the person who has the mobile service account with the mobile phone company.
You should not cancel your existing service before transferring your number because only numbers that are connected can be transferred.
What benefit is it to me?
The main benefit of mobile number portability is freedom of choice-both in the mobile phone company you use and whether or not to change your number.
You can avoid the frustration of having to stay with a mobile phone company just so you can keep your mobile number. If you are in business, keeping your number when changing phone companies means you will avoid missing calls, and the costs of reprinting stationery and having your signage redone.
For individuals, it means avoiding the inconvenience of having to notify your friends that you've changed your number.
I have a contract with my existing mobile phone company. Can I still move to another company and keep my number?
Yes you can, but you will still have to honour your existing contract.
Moving to a new company may cancel your existing contract but the obligations you may have to your existing mobile phone company 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.
Alternatively, you may choose to wait for your existing contract to expire before changing companies. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you still have an active service before transferring your number.
Your existing mobile phone company cannot refuse or delay your request to move your existing mobile number to a new phone company because of any outstanding debt.
What happens to my voicemail and other special features I have set up?
Mobile number portability is simply keeping your mobile phone number when moving from your existing mobile phone company to a new company. This means you will use the services and features offered by your new company, not take your existing service and its features with you. Voicemail and other special features must be set up again with your new mobile phone company.
Before changing mobile phone companies, check with your new company to ensure it can provide the services and features you need such as voicemail, SMS or related services such as fax and data.
You will need to check your voicemail messages and other services before moving your number to another mobile phone company.
Further messages received on your old voicemail in the change - over period before you have set up your new voicemail cannot be retrieved.
I'm on GSM. Can I move to CDMA and vice versa?
Yes, you can move your mobile phone number across technologies from GSM to CDMA or from CDMA to GSM-but you will need a new handset. This is because these two digital mobile technologies each require a particular type of handset to connect to the network. CDMA handsets can only be used on a CDMA network and GSM handsets can only be used on a GSM network.
If I change my mobile phone company and keep my mobile number do I need a new handset?
Not necessarily. For most people, changing mobile phone companies will be simple and straightforward. The majority of users are currently on GSM networks and all they will have to do to change companies is change their SIM card.
However, if you are a CDMA user changing to a company on another CDMA network, you will need a new handset because handset security protocols for CDMA phones have not yet been developed.
Can I get a new handset if I want one when changing mobile phone companies?
Yes, if you want to. In most cases you will be entering into a new relationship when you move to a new mobile phone company and you may choose to get a new handset. But you don't have to if you are happy with your current handset.
However, 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.
I'm a pre- paid customer. Can I change my mobile phone company and keep my number?
Yes, you can, but your handset may be locked. Mobile numbers issued to customers for a pre-paid service can also be moved to a new mobile phone company.
However, handsets sold as part of a pre-paid service are often 'network SIM-locked' to prevent customers using a SIM card in the phone 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 phone company to have your handset unlocked. A fee may be charged by some carriers.
What is personal SIM- locking?
Personal SIM-locking is different from network SIM-locking. It is a security precaution you can take yourself. This involves setting a special code in the phone that must be dialled before it can be used with another SIM card.
If you have 'SIM-locked' your handset, you will need to key in your SIM-lock code when you change SIM cards. But you only need to key the code in the first time you use the new card.
I like to use short message service (SMS). Can I still do this if I move?
Yes you can, if it is a feature of your new service.
However, if you want to receive incoming information alerts such as star signs and share news, this will need to be set up with your new company.
You should be aware that SMS messages can't travel between all Australian networks as yet, although this may change within the next few months.
Can I get the same services and features from any other mobile phone company?
Mobile number portability is simply about retaining your current number when you move to another mobile phone company. Your new company will probably offer you a new service package for voice, fax, data and SMS features.
You should decide what services and features you need, and make your choice on that basis.
Mobile phone companies do not all offer the same features and services. However, if you are transferring your number to a new mobile phone company you are entitled to the same features and level of service* as an existing customer using your new mobile phone company.
* Except for internationally originated SMS services, which cannot be guaranteed.
What will I have to do to keep my existing mobile number?
The following simple process applies. In most cases, this process will allow you to transfer your number without having to contact your existing mobile phone company. When you contact a new company for a mobile service and you want to keep your existing mobile phone number, that company must:
- advise you that you may still have outstanding charges payable or unfulfilled obligations with your existing company and
- ask you to give authorisation confirming your request to change companies and retain your existing mobile number.
Authorisation confirming your request may be:
- written (for example, where you sign a form)
- electronic (for example, where you agree to certain conditions on the Internet before proceeding) or
- voice (for example, where you agree to certain conditions described to you over the telephone by an operator or a voice recording).
The company you propose transferring to will also:
- make sure your personal information is correct to ensure that you are authorised to take the mobile number to your new company. Personal information includes your mobile number as well as your:
account number for post-paid contracts or
- reference number or date of birth for pre-paid contracts
- send messages to your existing company to confirm:
- you have the mobile service and mobile number with that company and
- you have requested to change companies and retain your existing mobile number and
- conduct a credit check, if you are setting up a post-paid service.
When notified by your new mobile phone company, your existing company will arrange for your mobile phone number to be moved to the new company. The new company will make arrangements with other carriers for you to receive calls on that number with your new service.
If the new mobile company fails to warn you that you ay have existing contractual obligations or you do not properly authorise the transfer of your existing mobile number, the move may be considered invalid.
You should immediately contact your existing company if you believe your mobile number has been moved to another company without your proper authorisation.
How long should it take to move my number to a new mobile phone company?
Most moves should be completed in less than an hour, although in busy times it may be a bit longer. The above procedures are designed to make moving your number to a new company as quick and as straightforward as possible.
Changes requested outside normal business hours (Monday to Saturday) will be completed at the start of the next business day. Also, transferring multiple numbers may take longer.
I can make cheap calls to friends on the same network. Can I still do this if I transfer to a new company?
You will need to check your new phone company's conditions. Some mobile phone companies offer special low call rates between same network connections, making these calls very attractive.
At present mobile phone users may know by looking at the prefix of a mobile number whether the number belongs to the same network. As more users change mobile phone companies but keep their existing numbers, this ability to recognise a mobile network by the number prefix will be lost.
To avoid unexpected charges, mobile users should confirm with their friends and associates that they are using the same mobile phone company.
Where do I go for more information?
For more information on mobile number portability issues, contact the ACMA's Disability and Operational Codes Section.
Detailed information about the mobile number portability process and phone companies' responsibilities is in the Mobile Number Portability Industry Code and the Mobile Number Portability Customer Information Guidelines. These documents are on the Communications Alliance Ltd website.
The ACMA has a range of consumer information about telecommunications issues available from its Regional Offices and from the ACMA Consumer Information website.
Your mobile phone company can provide you with information on the mobile number portability process and any special requirements you may have. Contact details for the four mobile phone networks are:
Telstra Corporation Ltd
Telephone: 125 111
Fax: 1800 653 058
TTY: 1800 808 981
Disability Enquiries Hotline: 1800 068 424
Hutchison Telecoms (Orange)
Telephone: 133 488
Fax: 07 3836 2797
Telephone: 1300 130 741
Fax: 1300 130 614
Telephone: 1300 300 937
Fax: 1800 555 580
TTY: 1800 123 124
Please note: This document is intended as a guide only. For this reason the information contained herein should not be relied on as legal advice or regarded as a substitute for legal advice in individual cases.