Telstra has been slapped with a $1.5m fine for failing to do this for customers during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Telstra has been slugged with a $1.5m fine for not letting customers keep their phone numbers when switching to other networks.
The telecommunications giant stopped helping customers to port numbers in March 2020 during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic and didn’t begin doing so again until July that year.
In that time, customers who wanted to transfer their number, but weren’t able to, formed a backlog that wasn’t cleared until October 2020.
More than 42,000 customer requests were impacted, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Australian consumers must have the freedom to change their telco provider to take up services that best suit their needs,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.
“This includes keeping your own phone number even if you take your business elsewhere.”
ACMA said Telstra’s conduct was in breach of the Telecommunications Act 1997.
Telstra said it agreed it was important for customers to be able to keep their phone numbers if they switched providers.
“This issue happened at the height of the first global wave of COVID, a time that tested everyone’s resilience and crisis management,” a company spokesman said.
“Given the number of our people and services affected by the pandemic, we could not guarantee that numbers would be ported correctly and decided to hit pause until we could be sure that we would not leave people without a service.
“We did this in a way to ensure that Telstra did not receive any advantage over our competitors. We worked hard to get all our porting services operating again as quickly as possible.
“Since then we’ve made a range of changes to ensure we can continue to meet our regulatory obligation to provide number porting services.”
ACMA said it took the difficult situation presented by the pandemic into consideration when deciding on the size of the penalty.
It also gave Telstra a formal direction to comply with the Local Number Portability Industry Code and said failure would risk the company a court-imposed penalty of $250,000 per breach.
Telstra fined $1.5m for number fail