Ofcom has changed the rules of mobile number porting enabling mobile users to switch to another network and keep their same number up to twice as quickly than is currently possible.

The new guidelines, that come into force next year, state that a PAC code must be given to a customer upon request straight away over the phone or via a text message within 2 hours. Users who have tried to get PAC codes out of their operators in the past will be pleased with this - often it is like trying to get blood out of a stone.

The other major change is that number porting must be done within 1 working day (this is currently 2 days). This means, once you give your PAC code to your new operator, you should have your usual number within 24 hours.

The final statement, which is available in PDF form, states that all of the UK operators were happy with these changes, except Three who wanted an automated system whereby the operators sort it out between themselves once a customer has decided to switch.

Three contacted us to say:

"Nowhere else in Europe is a consumer forced to ask permission to take their number with them when they choose a new operator. The donor-led porting system that Ofcom proposes to keep makes it difficult for customers to choose a deal that suits their needs.

"As mergers and consolidation reduce consumer choice, moving to a quicker consumer-friendly system becomes even more important. Three continues to press for a change as it is in best interests of competition and consumer choice, and will lead to better deals across the industry".

The concern with an automatic system was that it could lead to over-zealous salesmen porting numbers without proper permission from the user.