A new system streamlining how businesses transfer their phone numbers when switching from one telecoms company to another comes into force in the Republic on Monday.
Businesses “own” their fixed-line telephone numbers and can transfer them when they move between telecoms companies, but the system for doing so is slow and sometimes results in blocked or wrongly-routed calls.
Telecoms regulator, ComReg, is introducing a new system for transferring or "porting" numbers from today that is meant to speed up and simplify the process.
As part of the new system, operators will have to respond to any porting requests within four hours and the numbers should transfer from one supplier to another within seven hours, or one working day.
ComReg approved the new system on Sunday. It has been working with the main telecoms companies in the State for the last six months on developing the new procedures. The exercise directly involved key management figures in each of the suppliers.
The problems with the old system were rooted in the fact that companies were using two databases, one supplied by ComReg, the other developed by legacy operator Eir – which was once the State monopoly, Telecom Éireann.
According to independent telecoms company, Goldfish, this led to a host of problems. These included companies not receiving calls from some customers for severals days because they were unable to get through after the business had switched supplier.
Companies would switch operators and then find that their fixed-lines were not getting calls from clients using one of the other fixed or mobile networks operating the in State.
As a result, Goldfish says that it damaged competition as many companies – fearing a loss of business or other problems – chose to stay with their telecoms rather than risk changing.