The great news for consumers is that it is very easy to switch between carriers in New Zealand, and there are even laws to protect your right to switch. As a mobile phone customer, your contacts and their phone numbers, your old emails, photos and other things are all controlled by you on your phone and it is very easy to switch phones and carriers with no interruption to your personal information.
Your phone number is held by your carrier, but only as long as you allow them to. When you decide to switch and you sign up with a new carrier, there is a system called Mobile Number Portability which means that the old carrier automatically relinquishes the number and transfers it to the new carrier.
Here's the switching process:
- Find a new plan, then sign up with a new carrier, online or over the phone or in-store
- When signing up you will be asked whether you want to 'port' your number to the new account - simply enter your number.
- Your new account will activate, the number will be ported to the new phone in a few hours in most cases, but can sometimes take longer than a day. You'll still be able to use your old phone and number until the porting has been completed so you are not inconvenienced
I thought it was harder?
It used to be far harder than it is now and carriers tried to lock you in by making you start again with a new number if you ever left them. This was not very fair to customers and in the early days of mobile phones and plans consumers thought they could not switch without some interruption.
In New Zealand, mobile phone number portability has been legislated since April 1, 2007.
Will I get this option automatically?
Yes - strangely enough, it is actually more expensive for the telco to set up a new number than it is to transfer an existing numbers so you will easily find a number portability option as you sign up for new mobile phone and plan. In the online store, look for the options to keep your number - remember it is officially called Mobile Number Portability or 'porting'.
It costs you nothing and saves you money. You get to keep your stationery, your business cards etc. as you keep your number. And, it happens in a flash.
Tips For Porting Your Number
- If you change your provider and keep your existing mobile number, remember you're not taking the service with you-just the number. You can only take your mobile number with you if you're the authorised customer - the person who has the actual mobile service account with the mobile phone company.
- Do not cancel your contract with your current provider before changing your service provider, as only connected phone numbers can be transferred.
- If you have outstanding debts with your existing provider, you'll still be liable for paying it, even if you transfer your number to another provider. (Having a debt cannot prevent you from changing providers. However, your application for an account with a new provider will be subject to the usual credit checks.)
- Look into any technical and handset issues you might experience when you change providers. If you're keeping your handset, check whether it is compatible with the mobile technology used by your new provider.
- If you're a pre-paid mobile customer, your mobile phone may be SIM-locked, and your current provider may charge you to unlock your SIM card if you want to use the same handset with another provider's network.
Ready to Switch? Finding a new Phone & Plan
Here's the most popular phones on our site to start comparing the current deals from carriers. The market is becoming heavily focussed on smartphones and with good reason. The things that new phones can from all carriers can do these day is amazing, empowering and very useful. Here's the most compared new phones on our site.