Commission proposes extending regulatory protections for phone number portability

The Commerce Commission has today released a draft determination proposing to continue the regulation of number portability services for both local and mobile telephone numbers for another five years.

Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson said that number portability is a key enabler of competition in telecommunications markets because it means consumers can keep their mobile or landline number when changing providers, making switching easier.

“Thousands of people carry their numbers across providers every week, showing how important the ongoing regulation of number portability is for consumers,” he said. 

“The current regulatory framework is working well to promote competition and lower barriers to entry for smaller providers, and we want to hear views from the sector and interested parties before making a final decision to extend it another five years.”

Mr Gilbertson said that the proposed determination is essentially unchanged aside from a suggested change to help facilitate the prevention of fraud in number porting that builds on work currently being progressed by industry body New Zealand Telecommunications Forum Incorporated (TCF). 

“Number porting fraud is a relatively new development in New Zealand but has already proven to be of significant harm to consumers,” he said. “It occurs when a fraudster requests that another person’s phone number is switched to a sim-card they control, which can then help them access the victim’s bank accounts and other important information. 

“The TCF has been working to protect consumers by putting in place systems to help providers ensure that people are who they say they are when they ask to carry across their telephone number. It’s a clear example of the industry working together to promote the interests of consumers and the wider sector, and we want to support the initiative by including it in the regulatory framework.” 

The current determination will expire on 19 December 2021 with the new determination then taking effect on 20 December 2021. 

The Commission’s draft determination and reasons paper are on its website. Submissions are due by 5pm, Tuesday 26 October 2021, and cross submissions are due by 5 November 2021.