Consumers looking to change mobile networks could have to wait as little as two hours as Ofcom aims to force operators to speed up their practices.

Currently users wanting to change mobile networks yet keep their number have to phone the old operator and ask for a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC), which companies have no commercial incentive to provide quickly (just "as soon as reasonably practicable on reasonable terms").

However, Ofcom is looking at four options to speed the process up, which remaining cost beneficial to the networks.

It either wants mobile operators to respond to consumer PAC requests within two hours or a day by SMS or phone, or to force the networks to sort it out between themselves and bypass the consumer completely (as is the case throughout the rest of Europe).

Mulling over options

Ofcom has said it will now be having a good look at each option before deciding which is best to put forward to amend the current regulations:

"We intend to conduct further work to develop our view of the costs and benefits associated with each option and we invite stakeholders' views and evidence on this. In this consultation, we also set out the way in which we intend to proceed with further work and stakeholder engagement over the coming months.

"We will refine the specification of each alternative and develop our understanding of the costs and benefits associated with each option. Taken together, this evidence will be used to inform our decision."

This isn't the first time Ofcom has moved to cut the waiting times for PACs, but it was previously blocked by an appeal by Vodafone in 2008 so has had to re-investigate to force the issue.

The body also said that it believed some operators were actively slowing down the PAC process, due to the fact it's losing a customer, and Ofcom has said it will be monitoring this situation closely, with legal action on the cards if such a case is proved.

Via Ofcom