Stop phone number portability, the amendment to Cura Italia

Portability could be suspended until the end of the coronavirus emergency to limit the movement of people. Here's what the amendments to the Decree Cura Italia

The portability of the phone number, both fixed and mobile, is one of the most loved tools by users: it allows to change phone operator without having to change the number. In recent years it has become a practice for millions of citizens: you change operator and immediately ask for portability so you don't have to lose all your contacts. So far everything has gone smoothly, but in the coming weeks things could change.

Two amendments to the Cure Italy Decree have been proposed by the League and by the 5 Star Movement that, if approved, would suspend the portability of telephone numbers until the end of the coronavirus emergency. The amendment of the League and the one of the M5S, follow a similar amendment of the PD, then withdrawn, and have triggered the wrath of several consumer associations that consider them completely unjustified. According to the proponents, the stop to number portability serves to limit the physical movement of users and the consequent risks of contagion, according to the associations only serve to strengthen the big mobile phone companies at the expense of consumer interests. The amendments will be discussed in the Senate next April 8.

What is portability and what changes with the amendment

Technically, portability is the transfer of one's phone number from one telephone operator to another. It is a tool that has been active in Italy since January 2002 and that, especially in recent years, is used daily. Thanks to the birth of new mobile operators, especially virtual ones, that offer advantageous rates, making the portability is fundamental.

In fact, with the portability you can change operator and not lose your phone number and contacts saved. In this way, every time you decide to activate a new offer, you don't have to inform your contacts that you have changed your number.

Stop number portability: what do the amendments say

The two amendments have been presented within the Care Italy Decree and will be discussed on April 8. The amendment of the Lega alleges as a reason to stop the portability of the number the risk of contagion: "In consideration of the state of emergency on the national territory related to the health risk connected to the onset of pathologies deriving from transmissible viral agents, until the end of the emergency, the companies that carry out activities of supply of electronic communication networks and services will not be able to realize extraordinary commercial campaigns of contracting of communication services that require the portability of the number, in the measure in which this implies the necessity of the users to physically move towards the centers of attention to the public".

A similar motivations, and practically identical text, also for the amendment of the 5 Star Movement: "Companies that carry out activities of provision of electronic communications networks and services must refrain from carrying out extraordinary commercial campaigns of contracting electronic communications services that require the portability of the number, insofar as this implies the need for users to go to centers of public attention, or if this implies the physical intervention of technicians to maintain the continuity of the service during migration between different operators. All operations of portability of fixed and mobile numbers are also suspended, as well as the generation of new numbers that are not in progress, except in the case it is necessary for the activation of new concessions".

Stop number portability, associations rise up

Unanimous, and negative, the judgment of the main associations for the protection of consumer rights regarding these two amendments. Altroconsumo considers the stop to the portability a "harmful and useless" measure and for this reason has written to the Minister of Economic Development Stefano Patuanelli. The association, in fact, points out that it is possible to make the portability of the number through Internet or automated call center, therefore without going physically to the store. For Codacons, the two amendments are "meaningless" and the association announces "a legal war".