Have you ever wondered what happens to your old phone number after you have changed to a new number or got a new mobile phone contract?
People change their mobile phone number for various reasons; whether it is due to a technical issue, change of network, or a simple dislike for the number. Whatever the reason, it is always important to look into transferring your old phone number. Keeping the same business phone number is essential in order to maintain a strong customer base and keep the brand consistent .
What happens to your old phone number?
Worldwide Mobile Users
Last year in 2021, the number of mobile users worldwide stood at 7.1 billion, with predicted forecasts suggesting this is likely to rise to 7.26 billion by the end of this year in 2022. That number equates to around 90% of the population in the world having a mobile phone number.
The UK is facing a shortage of old phone numbers as the pool of available 11-digit telephone numbers that begin with 07 prefix is set to run out. With the UK population growing and more people using mobile phones, the current allocation of telephone numbers cannot meet demand. To ensure the 11-digit numbers do not run out, phone service providers are recycling numbers using a range of methods to meet demand.
The number of mobile numbers in the U.K. is expected to decrease by 70,000 a year over the next two years as the telecoms industry faces pressure to acquire new numbers to allocate to subscribers. The fixed pool of 11-digit combinations that begin with 07 prefix are expected to run out as operators recycle numbers to meet demand. The decline comes as consumers continue to switch from landlines to mobile phones. In 2013, the U.K.’s four main networks recycled almost 4.7 million numbers, according to data from OFCOM, the U.K.’s telecoms regulator.
Communications regulatory authority Ofcom provides UK mobile network providers with phone numbers, and the providers then distribute those numbers to new customers according to their own allocation plans. Ofcom is the UK agency responsible for regulating how mobile phone numbers are recycled.
When a new mobile phone number is allocated to a new user, the unwanted or old phone number is put back into a pool for recycling and it is entirely a commercial decision by the Communications Provider as to how long they choose to quarantine and then recycle their ranges. Though the ranges are owned by Ofcom, they are in essence on loan from the UK’s numbering resource. It is ultimately the Communications Provider’s decision on the allocation of the number range and Ofcom does not enforce on the provider to re-issue to the customer. You may however make a port request with your Communications Provider as they are under an obligation to honour all port requests.
Ofcom maintains a strict “use it or lose it” practice regarding Pay As You Go (PAYG) mobile phone numbers. This policy means that each mobile phone network provider has the authority to suspend the number associated with an account that is no longer active and reassign it to a new customer to ensure the efficient use of mobile numbers.
If a PAYG old phone number is not being used, the mobile operator can suspend the service and recycle the number. This is to ensure that the numbers they have are being used efficiently. The length of time before a mobile provider deems a phone inactive varies: for some providers it can be as little as 70 days, while others wait six months or longer.
If you’re concerned that your PAYG phone might be suspended because you don’t use it enough, ask your network provider.
Recycled numbers can be problematic as with many apps – Whatsapp, Gmail etc. require a two-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication login – the process that uses your mobile phone number for security purposes to sign into your account or password recovery.
This process might create a risk of exposing your contact details to the owner of the recycled number. Many apps now use mobile phone numbers as an additional way to provide security to access an account. Therefore, if you change your number but fail to update your phone number in the app’s settings, it’s quite possible that if the new owner of the phone number uses the same app, that user could see your profile and data when entering that same phone number to login the app.
As well as HLR Lookup, we also offer MNP Lookup, unlimited TPS checking and other telecoms services. If you would like to learn more, contact us. HLR Lookup are continually looking to improve our services. If there is anything you would like to see from us, we welcome your suggestions.