ARCEP specifies the terms for implementing fixed number portability to provide residential and business subscribers with a better quality of service when changing operator.ARCEP’s decision aims at reducing service interruption lead-time and guaranteeing quality and transparency of call reception starting 2010. This decision results from all the efforts ensured with operators, in partnership with the French Telecom Federation (Fédération française des télécoms)

Paris, 20 November 2009

ARCEP decision No. 2009-0637, approved by the Minister in charge of electronic communications and published in the Official Journal of 20 November 2009, is part of the Authority’s ongoing efforts, in partnership with operators, to improve the reliability of the fixed number portability process in a way that benefits consumers. This decision aims, first, at clarifying operators’ obligations with respect to fixed number portability and, second, at strengthening the quality of call routing towards ported numbers, whether fixed or mobile.

ARCEP’s decision creates a quality of service obligation and limits the service interruption lead-time for the subscriber when fixed number portability takes place

The service interruption lead-time induced by the portability process is the period of time during which the subscriber is unable to make or receive calls through his phone number with either his old or new operator.

The day when portability takes place, the operators involved in the process must take all the necessary actions to ensure that the service interruption, both outbound and inbound, is as short as possible for the subscriber. This delay must not exceed six hours from 1st January 2011 and four hours from 1st January 2012. Operators already provide reduced interruption delays for business customers.

ARCEP’s decision creates a quality of service obligation for the routing of calls towards ported numbers, whether fixed or mobile

From 1st April 2010, call originating operators will be obliged to ensure the same quality of service for calls to fixed or mobile numbers, whether they have been ported or not to another operator, and within the maximum service interruption lead-time. Under these obligations, the subscriber’s new operator is required to provide the other operators with the relevant technical information regarding the fixed number portability.

The work being carried out by operators within the Fixed Number Portability Association, APNF (Association de la portabilité des numéros fixes) is in line with these obligations and consists of implementing a database of ported fixed numbers by January 2010. ARCEP encourages all operators that are concerned by fixed number portability to join this association that can ensure a better flow of information between operators and can help satisfy quality of service obligations.

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What is the right to number portability?

Fixed number portability allows all those who subscribe to an electronic communications service to keep their phone number when they switch operators, except under certain special and strictly controlled circumstances. This right is stipulated in Article 44 of the code governing French postal and electronic communications markets, and imposes a certain number of obligations on operators.

Operators involved, i.e. the subscriber’s new operator (also known as the "recipient operator"), the previous operator ("donor operator") and the operator that was originally assigned the number ranges, must coordinate their efforts to ensure the portability of the number in question.

What are the procedures and information requested for a fixed number portability?

Fixed number portability is based on a one-stop process:

  • subscriber addresses directly his request to the new operator when he subscribes to a new service offer with conservation of his current fixed number(s) ;
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  • the new operator is thus mandated by the customer to perform all the necessary steps, and especially to inform the previous operator of his desire to cancel his subscription ;
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  • the subscriber’s number retention request with the new operator constitutes a request to cancel his contract with the previous operator, without having to submit any other formal request for cancellation. The new operator informs the previous operator of this request and cancellation is coordinated with the porting of the number. The subscriber is nevertheless required to return any equipment (modem, TV box, etc.) supplied by the previous operator, in accordance with the terms stipulated in the contract. Pursuant to the Consumer Code, any security deposits will be reimbursed within 10 days after the equipment’s return.
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Operators must provide their subscribers with the information needed to change operator while keeping their fixed number(s):

  • information concerning portability must be available in the general terms and conditions of sale and when subscribing to a service offering ;
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  • exhaustive list of fixed numbers assigned or reserved to the subscriber as part of the contract. For business subscribers in particular, this includes direct dialling-in (DDI) numbers associated with installation designation numbers. This information must be available for free, either in electronic form in customer service areas that can be accessed on the Internet, or on subscribers’ invoices.
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Which information must given by the new operator when a new subscriber requests to keep his number?

When a customer subscribes to a new operator’s offer with conservation of his fixed number(s), the new operator must perform the following actions:

  • confirm the subscriber’s ability to exercise his right to keep his number(s) and control the request eligibility ;
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  • inform the subscriber of the consequences of keeping his number, notably the cancellation of his contract with the previous operator. Cancellation takes effect when the number is actually ported, without exonerating the subscriber from outstanding balances on services, due to possible contract engagement ;
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  • inform the subscriber that retention concerns only his number. The new operator also ensures the subscriber’s wishes with respect to directory listings (e.g. to have an unlisted number) continue to be met ;
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  • inform the subscriber of the scheduled date and time of the porting. If the new operator is unable to provide specific date and time, it will provide an estimated timeline and inform the subscriber with the ongoing status of his request (by sending him an SMS, for instance);
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  • lastly, when the new operator assigns a subscriber several numbers for the same line in addition to his ported number, it will inform the subscriber of the possibility that the ported number will be the line identification number transmitted when he makes an outgoing call.
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Under what circumstances can a portability request be denied ?

Customers must satisfy certain criteria to be eligible for number portability:

  • a porting request must be submitted by the contract holder, or by his or her legal representative ;
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  • the number must still be active: the contract with the previous operator should not been cancelled when the porting request is made ;
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  • a fixed geographic number (starting with 01, 02, 03, 04 or 05) cannot be retained when moving outside the geographical area linked to that number. For instance, a number associated with the Paris area cannot be kept when the subscriber is moving outside of Paris, even if he is staying within the Ile-de-France region. This restriction does not exist for non-geographic numbers starting with 08 or 09. It is important to note that, as it stands, number portability does not include an obligation for operators to retain subscribers’ phone number when they move without switching operators. The ability of whether or not to automatically offer customers the ability to retain their number is a purely commercial operator’s choice.
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  • the number must not be involved in a portability process waiting to be executed : if the subscriber wants to cancel a request that is ongoing, he must address directly to the new operator within a stipulated timeframe ;
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  • number portability must be ensured under reasonable technical conditions: ARCEP has identified certain strictly controlled situation with technical incompatibility ;
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  • it is strictly forbidden to deny a portability request for the following reasons : outstanding balance due, status of number reserved for business subscribers, in absence of subscriber’s request was not sent to the previous operator or in the case of a porting request for part of the subscriber’s numbers ("partial portability"). Causes for denial by the previous operator are thus strictly limited.
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If a portability request is denied, the new operator must inform its subscriber as quickly as possible, specifying the reasons for the denial and, if applicable, what needs to be done for the request to become eligible.


Linked documents

Smiley Decision No.2009-0637 (pdf - 387 Ko)  Smiley

Smiley The contributions to the public consultation (zip - 6.33 Mo) (AFORST, Altitude Télécom, Bouygues Télécom, Colt, France Télécom, Free, Prosodie, SFR, Verizon and an individual) (zip -  - 6,32 Mo) Smiley

Smiley For any further information concerning number portability, you can contact ARCEP at: portabilite(@)arcep.fr Smiley