Record numbers switch mobile carrier

Three times the previous record port to new carriers in August

An all-time record for mobile numbers being ported to a different carrier has just been set, with 15,500 numbers, three times the previous record, being logged as ported in August.

Porting allows mobile customers to keep the same telephone number when they switch between service providers.

Citing commercial confidentiality, Richard Westlake, the chair of the Telecommunications Carriers' Forum (TCF), was not prepared to release any information about movements between the carriers.

"The companies are reasonably sensitive about those figures," he says.

Westlake did say in a statement that the record relates to the recent introduction of new products and services, but did not specify the services he was referring to.

“Several new mobile services are being offered by existing companies,” he says. “That is great news for consumers because it means competitive pricing, but it’s also good for industry, since it means New Zealand’s market for mobile services is still open in spite of the recession.”

Telecom launched its new XT network recently while 2 Degrees also entered the market targeting prepay customers.

Vodafone also declined to provide any figures of number ported to or from its network, saying that information was controlled by the TCF.

Spokesman Paul Brislen says Vodafone is "delighted" to see the market operating so well as both Vodafone and Telecom have done a lot to make sure that happens.

Westlake says August 2009 would be known as the month when the TCF threw out the record books.

"Porting volumes increased so dramatically, the number of mobile portings alone, at almost 15,500, was triple the previous month’s record. Approximately 12,000 local numbers were also ported,” he says.

There are now over a quarter of a million ported numbers in New Zealand, the TCF says, and if recent trends continue that could exceed 300,000 by the end of the year.

Number portability was launched in April 2007. Number porting is free to customers but it cost the telecommunications industry over $100 million to implement.

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