Mobile phone operators BT Cellnet, One2One, Orange and Vodafone are to introduce an automated system letting customers transfer their mobile phone numbers to new accounts in seven days. This transfer currently takes up to 25 days.
People will now be able to switch between networks and take advantage of different deals without having to change their phone number.
"People have told us that they don't want to keep changing their number and cannot afford to wait for nearly a month to change networks, but would like to sign up to one of our services," said a spokesman at Vodafone. "As people's lives change it only makes sense that demands on their services will also change."
Telco watchdog Oftel has welcomed the move as a way to open up competition and provide people with more flexibility.
"This clearly shows that self-regulation by the industry is starting to deliver real benefits to consumers, enabling them to make the most of competitive deals on offer," said Chris Kenny, director of regulatory policy at Oftel.
All mobile phone users should be able to take advantage of the scheme.
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