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What is Mobile Number Portability (MNP)?

What is Mobile Number Portability (MNP)

Mobile Number Portability (MNP) is a telecommunications service that allows mobile phone users to retain their existing phone numbers when switching from one mobile network to another.

It enables users to change their service provider without having to change their phone number. MNP ensures continuity of communication and eliminates the inconvenience of notifying contacts about a new number.

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How Does MNP Work?

The process of Mobile Number Portability involves several key steps:

User Initiation: The process begins when a mobile phone user decides to switch from their current service provider to a new one. The user contacts the new service provider and expresses their intention to port their existing number.

Porting Request: The user submits a porting request to the new service provider, providing necessary details such as their current mobile number and account information.

Verification and Authorisation: The new service provider verifies the user’s identity and eligibility for porting. Once authenticated, the user provides consent for the porting process to proceed. The existing network provides the customer with a PAC code.

Communication Between Operators: The new service provider communicates with the user’s current (donor) service provider to initiate the transfer of the user’s number. This involves backend coordination between the two operators to ensure a smooth transition.

Porting Process Completion: Upon successful coordination, the user’s mobile number is transferred from the donor operator to the new operator’s network. The transition typically takes a few hours to complete, during which users may experience minimal downtime in service.

Notification: Once the porting process is complete, the user receives confirmation from the new service provider, indicating that their mobile number has been successfully transferred. Users can then begin using their services with the new operator, retaining their existing phone number.

Anyone who has tried MNP has found that it can be a clunky process. With so many steps, all it takes is for something to slightly go wrong and you can find yourself without a phone for a few days.

It’s always a tense moment waiting for the confirmation text that lets you know that the switchover is complete.

How easy is it to switch mobile phone providers?

In the UK the telecoms regulator OFCOM, has implemented a simple ‘Text to Switch’ service which has forced the networks to make it easier for customers to switch mobile networks.

All customers need to do is send a simple text to a short code and they will receive their PAC number by text which they need to give to the new provider.


How long does it take to process MNP?

The time taken to switch providers varies from network to network. The typical transfer time is between 1 and 3 days.

Can a mobile network refuse to port your number?

No. In the UK all MNOs are required to allow transfer and numbers quickly and easily. The regulations are governed by Ofcom and all networks have to abide by the legal obligations.

How many times can a mobile number be ported?

There’s no actual limit but most networks require you to be a customer for a period of at least 90 days before you can switch to another network.

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What is an MNC?
What is an MCC in SMS?



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Henry Cazalet Managing Director
Co-founder and Director of The SMS Works, a low cost and powerful SMS API for developers. About Henry