Switching Cell Carriers (Non-US Edition)
April 19, 2017 8:29 AM   Subscribe

Changing cell phone providers in the US is clunky and manual. I've just learned that most countries handle it better (no surprise!) I'd like to hear more about folks' experiences with this outside of the US.

The process of changing from one cell phone provider to another in the United States requires you to enter a considerable amount of personal information either in person, over the phone, or on the web. This typical includes an account # and/or PIN/Password from your previous carrier, two pieces of information most customers won't know off-hand. After doing a little bit of research, it sounds like other countries handle this very differently. For instance:

Canada: This doesn't get into specifics, but makes it sound like all you have to do is tell your old carrier you want this to happen and it just... does?

India: This describes in more detail each step of the process, but I'm hung up on the "porting date" mentioned. It makes sense for them to specify when it will be done, but what happens when the process is complete on their end (IE, the port has been submitted and completed) but you haven't switched to your new SIM yet?

I want to make sure this is a question with a problem to solve, and not a survey, so:

1. As a non-US customer, how did your old and new carriers interact with each other to port over your phone number?

2. What was your experience/impressions at all times during this process?
posted by SpiffyRob to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm in the UK.
1. I call up old provider, say I want to cancel. They may or may not try and sell me on a new contract (last couple of times they didn't, refreshingly - helps if you say you've already signed up for the new contract somewhere else). I ask for my PAC number to port my number across.
2. I sign up with the new provider. Receive the phone and SIM card (or just SIM if it's a SIM-only deal) with the new number. When I get the PAC (which IIRC must be within 24h of requesting?) I call up new provider and say I want to transfer the old number and give them the PAC. Usually takes 24h or so for the change-over to occur.
I've never really had any issues moving between major and medium-sized providers, but I know some people do have issues, usually either not getting their PAC from the old provider, or the new provider messing up and assigning them the wrong number.
A bit more info.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:00 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]

I'm also in the UK. I still have my number from 1999, despite changing networks (*thinks*) five times. The process is as above and the longest, most difficult part of it is usually the interminable 'are you absolutely sure sir?' retention call with the network you are leaving.

Until I learned that you can skip that whole conversation by telling them you can't get a signal in your house. They give you the PAC straight away if you do that.

But yeah, it's pretty easy. So easy in fact that it's being cited as the model for all kinds of other industries, like changing your bank account, or your utilities company.
posted by Happy Dave at 10:44 AM on April 19

I'm in the US and just changed my carrier. I found it a lot easier than you describe and not clunky at all. I did need my account number and pin, but those were easy to get online. I had to enter some personal information, but would expect to do that if entering a phone contract, whether switching from another carrier or not.

The transfer happened in 15-20 minutes. I didn't have to make a phone call! My old contract was automatically cancelled. I am adding my experience because I wonder if it depends on your carrier (mine was T-Mobile).
posted by beyond_pink at 11:10 AM on April 19 [2 favorites]

As another data point, I'm in the US and moved from Consumer Cellular to T-Mobile just last week and the switchover took 4 days and several calls to customer service to move things along. I expected it to be along the lines of what beyond_pink described, and was disappointed.
posted by oxisos at 11:27 AM on April 19

Another US data point. 3 years ago I switched from AT&T to Cricket Wireless and it was very easy. I made sure my phone was unlocked, I ordered a new SIM from Cricket, I put the new SIM in and it worked, and then I called AT&T an canceled.
posted by terrapin at 11:35 AM on April 19

I'm in Canada. All I had to do the last two times I switched was give the new provider the account number of the existing service. They were the ones to cancel it. Now, I'm with one of the Big Three, so I won't be surprised if it's a bit tougher than this the next time I switch.
posted by kitcat at 3:13 PM on April 19

I am in Austria and it is difficult for me to talk on the phone to people given my level of German. Rarely you get people who speak English. So, I prefer online or snail mail. If you are on a contract, you have to give 3 months notice. Switching to and from prepaid is easier. To port your number you start an online process and give some ID details online, have your old SIM and a new SIM. Whatever info you need, you usually get as an SMS. The number gets ported in a day. Sometimes it is free eg: https://www.hot.at/rufnummer-mitnehmen.html
Contracts or postpaid are a little more cumbersome and sometimes require mailing in stuff if you are not willing to talk.
All in all I could do the whole thing without calling at all which suited my purposes.
posted by ssri at 3:19 AM on April 20

« Older Dear Susan - Under Neat That - We will Miss you   |   Bringing Science to the Masses Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments