How to Port Your Number Within the Same Network

by Brandon Ackroyd - , Last Updated on October 16, 2019, How To Guides

If you're a sensible shopper, you're constantly keeping your eyes peeled for a great new deal. And the mobile market has tons of deals that change all the time. However, not all deals are open to all people. If your current operator is offering something to new customers, you might not be able to take advantage of it. Unless you know a simple backdoor trick to not only getting your deal but also keeping your current phone number…

Wait, What's the Problem?


Okay, let's say you're a customer of network X. Your contract is coming to an end and you're looking for something new. The best deal you find is also with network X, which seems convenient. Except that it's not. Many networks reserve their best deals for new customers (to lure them into signing contracts). Which means if you want that new deal you're going to have to cancel your contract and sign up again as a new customer.

That doesn't sound too bad, except for one little detail: most operators will refuse to port an existing number within the network. Basically, that means that when you cancel your contract you'll lose your current phone number and then you'll get a new number when you sign up as a ‘new' customer to get that awesome deal.

Losing your phone number is more than an inconvenience. Just think about how many people have your digits. But there is a way that you can get that new deal and keep your number as well. We'll be honest, it's going to take a little time, but the savings you're getting by getting the deal you want could be worth it.

What's the Solution?


Numbers port between operators all the time, it's porting them within the same operator that's the problem. If you want to cancel your O2 contract and get a new Vodafone contract, transferring your old number is pretty easy. And that's going to be your solution here. In basic terms, you're going to quickly transfer your number to a PAYG SIM on another network and then transfer it back to your new deal with your regular operator. And this really is easier than you would think (and it's going to cost you either nothing or just a few pounds if you do it right).

How You Keep Your Number

Keeping your phone number is easy. You contact your current operator and ask for a PAC (Port Authorisation Code). You then give the PAC to your new operator and they take care of everything. It's that easy. And when you're ready to switch back you do the exact same thing. But let's work through that step by step.

Step 1: Get Your PAC

Your first step is to get your PAC from your current operator. You must do this BEFORE you cancel your current service or contract. This is as easy as texting PAC to 65075 from your mobile phone. Alternatively, you can also get your PAC by logging into your online account with your mobile operator. You'll probably find the PAC option under the settings menu under a heading like ‘leave network' or ‘switch networks':

You should get your PAC pretty instantly, and then you're ready to move on to your next step.

Step 2: Cancel Your Current Contract

You can now cancel your current contract with your operator. You can do this by logging into your online account as listed above. However, this is likely to be faster and easier if you call customer service and go through them. It's really up to you!

Cancellation is unlikely to be immediate (unless you just happen to call on the day that your billing cycle ends, in which case you might want to cancel at the end of the next billing cycle to give you a few weeks to sort out your new contracts).

If you are SURE that your current contract has already ended (meaning you've gone over the end date) then you do not need to cancel your contract. It will automatically be cancelled once you use your PAC with another operator…

Step 3: Sign Up for a New PAYG SIM

Whilst you're waiting for your current contract to cancel you're going to need to sign up for a new PAYG SIM card. The cheapest and easiest way to do this is to sign up with either Three or GiffGaff, both of which offer free PAYG SIMs.

Your new SIM should arrive within a couple of days, and then…

Step 4: Port Your Number to Your New SIM

Once you get your new PAYG SIM you can then transfer your phone number to it. Again, this is very easy. Go to the online account for your new operator (those are all listed above with links). Find a link in your account that says something like “switching service” and follow the steps to bring in an existing number. Some providers may need you to contact them so you should get either an email form or address or a phone number that you can call. Contact the operator and tell them you want to port your number and give them your PAC and you're all good to go.

Step 5: Wait…

You may need to wait a couple of days for the number change to take effect. In general, porting a number takes about two working days. You'll know when your number has been ported because you'll lose reception and you'll need to reboot your phone, you'll also probably receive an SMS from your new operator.

Once your number has been ported over to your PAYG card you're ready to sign up for that new deal. You might want to put a little credit onto your PAYG SIM to cover you for a couple of days of mobile use. You should also ensure that your old contract with your original operator has come to an end before signing up for a new one!

Step 6: Sign Up for Your New Deal

Now you can go ahead and sign up for that awesome deal you found. It should be easy enough, and your old operator should now treat you like a new customer (meaning you can get that deal). You'll probably have to wait a little while for the contract to be activated and to receive a SIM card.

Step 7: Reverse the Process

All you need to do now is get your number from that temporary PAYG SIM back to your brand new awesome deal contract. So go back over the steps above and get your PAC from your PAYG network, and then contact the network you signed up for the new deal with and pass the PAC along to them and Bob's your uncle, you're ready to go.

Stuff You Should Know

need to know

All of that sounds like a lot more trouble than it really is. However, there are some important things that you should know:

  • Validity: The PAC that you receive is valid for only 30 days, so do make sure that you complete the process within that time frame
  • Penalties: If you're ending a contract early (before the date that the contract expires) you will have to pay penalty fees. This does not apply to the PAYG SIM you use temporarily since this isn't a contract, but it may apply to your original contract. Check to ensure your contract has been completed if you don't want to pay penalties!
  • Transfer: The actual transfer of your number between operators takes only a few seconds. You will momentarily lose service and will probably need to reboot your phone. You will need to be in the UK on transfer day otherwise the transfer won't go through.

Failure To Get a PAC

Mobile operators have a legal obligation to give you your PAC when you request it. OFCOM is the regulator for telecommunications in the UK, and according to clause 18 of their General Conditions an operator must provide you with a PAC within 60 seconds of you applying for one electronically (online or by SMS). However, there are three exceptions to this rule. The operator does not have to supply a PAC:

  • If you fail a security check (you must be able to prove that the account in question belongs to you, either through a password or showing ID)
  • If the account is already closed (so don't cancel that contract before getting a PAC)
  • If a PAC has already been issued for that account (so don't lose your PAC once you have it)

In any of these cases, you will not be able to get a PAC and therefore won't be able to transfer your number. If an operator fails to give you a PAC for any other reason (including not having met the ‘minimum term' for a contract) then you can escalate the matter by contacting OFCOM.

Same Network Number Porting: In Conclusion

It isn't easy to transfer a phone number within a network, though there's really no reason for this. Networks don't like doing it because it means that existing customers can potentially sign up for deals that are meant for new customers. However, if you're willing to spend a little time dealing with the issue then the above workaround is effective.

Got any questions about using the backdoor upgrade method? Contact us here.