Young cellphone user in Jerusalem
Young cellphone user in Jerusalem Israel news photo: Flash 90

With the recent introduction of several new cellphone service companies, and the ensuing competition that has lowered the cost of cellphone service significantly, tens of thousands of Israelis have migrated from one service to another, in search of the lowest price. The fact that cellphone service providers can no longer force customers to remain under contract as they had in the past has made it a simple matter for customers to move from one company to another.

There was just one last bureaucratic hassle: If a customer wanted to keep his or her old phone number, they were required to wait a period of at least three hours for the number transfer to take place. While many customers accepted that waiting period as a fact of technological life, the Communications Ministry – which is aware that the process of switching a number from one company to another takes minutes, not hours – campaigned against the waiting period. And on Monday, the Ministry approved new rules that will require service providers to immediately move phone numbers of outgoing customers to their new cellphone company.

In a statement, the Ministry said that the new rule would help both customers and salespeople. “The salesperson will be able to check immediately if the customer's account was successfully transferred to the new service, without having to wait for hours, requiring the customer to deal with customer service on the phone if there is a problem.”

The Ministry said that in the four and a half years since the program to transfer numbers between cellphone service providers was initiated, the companies had gained a great deal of engineering experience, and that there was no reason that the process should not be immediate.