Mobile Number Ownership

Hi everyone,

Sorry for being a newbie to this but I'd like to know something about mobile number ownership.

Does it mean that as long as I have an active connection, that mobile number will always be mine? For e.g. what if i transfer my number to new telcos like and if I wanted to transfer to another telco, can they prevent me from my number being transferred? Like who really owns the phone number? Is there a registry that says no matter what (as long as the number doesn't get terminated) I would have exclusive rights to that phone number?

Say they refuse to allow my transfer to another telco, can I take legal action stating that I own this number as it's registered to me?

Thanks in advance.


  • +2 votes

    Good question! I am following with interest as I have my personalised mobile number from 20+ years ago and hope to keep it for many decades to come.

  • +1 vote

    The mobile number is not owned by you.

    You aquire the right to use it by paying a fee.

    While you pay that fee, you have exclusive use of that number.

    Does that answer your question?

    • +1 vote

      I think it'll also help to specify that if you terminate your contract with your existing provider that services 'your' number, you rescind any rights to the allocation of said number - the telco then gets to decide to keep it allocated to your billing account, or recycle it into their new number pool, or just ignore it completely.

      Generally, your telco is looking for the easiest solution which is generally to leave your number alone in most circumstances. If you stop paying, they'll try to win you back, or keep your number ready to reuse later. It's easier and cheaper to leave the status quo (unless you try to port or something). For example, I still get Amaysim $0 'bills' for old prepaid AND postpaid SIMs - I'm not paying anything, but I'm not costing them anything either, so they have no reason to close my accounts and shuffle numbers around.

  • +5 votes

    The answer is briefly yes. They must port your number, if they don't, contact the TIO.
    The only way I see someone losing their number is by a MVNO going bust unexpectedly.

    • +1 vote

      MVNO going bust unexpectedly

      Which has happened - but the user & phone number database still exists which is then passed on or bought by another MVNO or the root provider. The MVNO's database is never actually lost.

  • +3 votes

    Technically a teleco can refuse to release your number if you have significant monies owing.
    Its rarely acted upon, but in the terms and conditions it does state they can withhold permission to port out in this situation.

    The number is technically "managed" by the carrier that is providing you a service and they "allow" you to use it provided you adhere to all terms and conditions of access.

    the number is actually "owned" by ACMA ( as they govern the industry and mobile numbers in general, it is them who manage numbers in quarantine, they also govern spectreum access etc

    If your number was taken from you, sure you could sue but sadly the way the law is written you do not own the number at any time and would have zero chance of winning a case.

    Essentially, you get ROU (right of ownership) while its active, but you do not OWN the number outright per say

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