Paris, 7 November 2011
Any subscriber is able to keep their telephone number when switching mobile carriers. This functionality is key to ensuring that consumers can take full advantage of market competition, and requires a fast and simple system that allows subscribers to fully exercise their rights.
The new legal and regulatory provisions that were adopted in accordance with European directives have resulted in improvements to the system that mobile carriers put into place in 2007, which includes the principle of a one-step process for porting a phone number to the consumer's new carrier of choice.
Major efforts have been made since September 2010 in tandem with mobile carriers and the unit in charge of mobile number retention within the Economic interest group, GIE EGP (Groupement d'intérêt économique Entité de gestion de la portabilité), under the aegis of ARCEP.
These efforts have made it possible to adjust communication procedures between operators to reduce the time it takes to process a mobile number portability request. ARCEP also wanted to simplify the customer process and increase the information available to subscribers.
This new system comes into effect today in Metropolitan France (1).
Mobile number portability in three working days instead of 10 calendar days
The communication procedure between carriers - whose purpose is to check that the number portability request submitted by a customer is valid - has been reduced to a maximum two working days, while the waiting period for actually porting a number, once the new carrier has received confirmation that the request is valid, has been reduced to one working day. This is in accordance with the provisions contained in the French Postal and electronic communications code, CPCE, resulting from the new European framework.
This means that, for the customer, the overall waiting period for mobile number portability has been shortened to a maximum three working days - unless expressly requested otherwise by the customer and provided access is possible (actual availability of the SIM card). Up until now, the waiting period had been 10 calendar days.
Better customer information
The new system also demands that voice servers supplying the operator identity statement, or RIO (Relevé d'Identité Opérateur) - which is crucial to requesting retention of a mobile number - be available 24/7, through a new number shared by all carriers: 3179.
Subscribers will be given clearer instructions when consulting this voice server. A recorded message will inform them of the exact dates of their contractual commitment, which are needed to calculate any early cancellation fees they might incur, along with the general principles of the one-step procedure whereby customers wanting to switch carriers do not address themselves to their old carrier but rather to their new provider, who will handle the entire process.
A series of text messages (SMS) will then guide the customer through the different stages in the process, from obtaining their operator identity statement right up to the actual porting of the number, by way of confirmation that their request has been received.
Any delays or mishandling of a number portability request could result in compensation for the subscriber, following a request from the customer and verification by the carrier.