How to switch mobile phone providers (and keep your phone number)

16 April 2015

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 which ensure that you will keep your phone number.

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:
  1. Find a new plan, then sign up with a new carrier online, over the phone or in-store
  2. When signing up you will be asked whether you want to 'port' your number to the new account - simply provide your phone number and your account number with your current provider.

    If you are signing up to a Prepaid plan, you select the 'keep your number' option when logging into your account for the first time.

  3. Your new account will be activated and your number will be ported to the new service. This should take no more than a few hours in most cases, but it can sometimes take longer than a day.

Importantly, both your old number and your new number will work until the porting has been completed.

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.

Not anymore! 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. You should easily find a number portability option as you sign up for new mobile phone and plan, no matter what medium you do it in. On an online store, look for the options to keep your number - remember it is officially called Mobile Number Portability or 'porting'.

Porting costs you nothing and saves you time and effort. It can also save you money if you have business cards or custom stationary to consider.

If you have any difficulties trying to port your number, and you can't resolve these by speaking to your provider, contact the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution office.

Finding a new mobile plan - Easy

So, know that you know just how easy it is to transfer your number to a different provider, maybe it is time to start looking for a new, cheaper phone plan? When you're ready to get started and find a new mobile plan, we can help.



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