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People with Vectone Mobile UK Numbers Face Ongoing Issues UPDATE

Tuesday, Dec 19th, 2023 (8:41 am) - Score 8,280
vectone_mobile

Customers who first acquired their mobile number from Vectone Mobile, which one operator says “recently ceased all UK operators“, appear to be facing ongoing problems with routeing of calls and texts after major service problems began a couple of months ago. The bad news is that a change of number may be required to fully resolve it.

The situation began at the end of October 2023 (here), when we reported on a protracted loss of service and difficultly contacting customer support at UK mobile operator Vectone Mobile (the issue was also covered via our forum). Since then customers have struggled to leave the provider, but quite a few were eventually able to secure a PAC (switching code) and move to pastures new.

NOTE: Vectone Mobile UK is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) on EE’s network.

Unfortunately, customers who have a number that originated from Vectone Mobile itself are continuing to experience sporadic problems with the routing of their text messages and calls, which may continue even after they’ve moved to a different network. This is due to the way that mobile networks work.

When you switch mobile networks in the UK, your mobile number always stays registered with the network from which it originated. When you make or receive a call or text message (SMS), it is first routed to the network who originally supplied the number and then forwarded (onward routed) to the network currently serving the customer.

However, the sudden collapse of a mobile operator can cause problems with this process and some operators, such as iD Mobile and Smarty, have now started actively warning customers – those who have ported in from Vectone Mobile – that the only solution may be to change their numbers.

iDMobile Email to Ex-Vectone Customers

We’ve noticed your mobile services may have been impacted, affecting your ability to receive calls and texts from outside the iD or Three UK network. This is due to your mobile number originating from Vectone Mobile, who we believe have recently ceased all UK operations. Why has this happened? When you switch your number between networks in the UK, it always stays registered with the network from which it originated.

When you make or receive a call or text, it is first routed to the network who originally supplied the number and then forwarded (onward routed) to the network currently serving the customer. So, for your mobile number ending in [redacted], any calls or texts would first be routed through Vectone Mobile. Due to this situation, your calls and texts cannot be routed reliably, therefore you will face ongoing service issues.

Please note: Switching your number to another network using a PAC will not resolve the issue. Any customers whose mobile number originated from Vectone Mobile will face ongoing service issues – regardless of what UK network they are currently with.

What is the solution?

We have worked closely with other networks to find a solution, but unfortunately, the only way to restore full service is to change your mobile number. To do a free number change, contact us as soon as possible at idmobile.co.uk/contact-us. We apologise for any inconvenience these issues may have caused.

According to Companies House, both Vectone Mobile Limited and Vectone Mobile Holding Limited are technically still active companies that continue to trade, although admittedly neither has posted any new company filings since September 2023 (i.e. before the problems occurred).

Sadly, we don’t have a press contact for Vectone Mobile, but we have tried to reach out for a comment via their normal communication channels. We have also requested a comment from Ofcom on the current situation and will update once their response arrives. In any case, if the only solution to such issues is for customers to change their mobile number, then clearly the regulator needs a better approach for such situations.

UPDATE 1:03pm

We’ve had a comment from Ofcom, although unfortunately they seem to be skirt over how problematic it can be for consumers to change a mobile number, particularly in this day and age when your number can be associated with so many different security systems and checks. We really need a better approach to this from the regulator.

An Ofcom spokesperson told ISPreview:

“We are aware of reports that customers with numbers originally supplied by Vectone Mobile have experienced service problems, and we are attempting to contact the company. If it ceases to operate, customers may need to change their phone number with their new provider.”

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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
43 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Gareth says:

    I didn’t know that!

    “When you switch your number between networks in the UK, it always stays registered with the network from which it originated.

    When you make or receive a call or text, it is first routed to the network who originally supplied the number and then forwarded (onward routed) to the network currently serving the customer.”

    1. Avatar photo Matt says:

      Bet thats making people think about the security of their numbers in future, it has me.

    2. Avatar photo Gareth says:

      Definitely!

      My number started in 1998 with One2One. So, I think that became T-Mobile then EE. Does that mean my number is owned by EE? It’s now on Smarty.

    3. Avatar photo Ben says:

      There’s a website for that… https://www.telecom-tariffs.co.uk/codelook.htm

      Enter the first 6 digits of your phone number in “partial telephone number to lookup”, then click “Lookup Number”. It will tell you which operator the number has been allocated to.

    4. Avatar photo Kevin says:

      To clarify, it is only when you receive a text or call from another network. Outgoing calls and texts will not go via your original provider.

  2. Avatar photo Mark says:

    So sign up with actual network first, Vodafone, EE etc then port to MVNO is the best way to go then

    1. Avatar photo Vince says:

      @Mark

      Not necessarily – the best option is not to have a ported number at all, as it removes one extra hop in the chain. I guess you could argue a number that starts allocated to a major network is less ‘risky’ of this specific issue, but it’s not without issues and I have seen, had and experienced the mess when the originating network has an issue that breaks your service even though you’ve moved where BOTH were the major networks.

  3. Avatar photo Ivor says:

    dumb question then – who actually owns these numbers. Does Vectone own the ranges or did EE as their underlying MNO?

    Could Ofcom and/or EE forcibly take control of the range for the purposes of allowing smooth porting to a new operator?

    On the point of number routing, you can sometimes see this if you don’t have voicemail enabled. My number originated on 3 but is now with EE. If you call it from a Vodafone mob / BT landline while off or out of signal, you can get three different announcements as each network plays one.

    1. Avatar photo HR2Res says:

      I thought HMG owned the numbers and Ofcom administered them.

    2. Avatar photo Bubbles says:

      I think in the case of Vectone, they owned the numbers. Most MVNOs just use their host network’s number blocks but some older MVNOs are different. A few i can think of that own their own number blocks are: Lyca, Sky, ex Virgin to name a few. All the main Three MVNOs use Threes number space, same goes for all the VF MVNOs.

    3. Avatar photo HR2Res says:

      Since my earlier comment I did a little research. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of info, but what I said seems correct. Numbers are a national resource, administered by Ofcom. Fees are paid to Ofcom for use of number blocks. But whether MVNOs pay fees to MNOs for use of number sub-blocks rather than to Ofcom for their own number blocks I don’t know… and work now intervenes! So I would think either the numbers revert to the original MNO or to Ofcom.

    4. Avatar photo Matt says:

      @HRH2Res

      Fees are not paid for mobile blocks, only certain geographic ranges at this time. Ofcom could always increase the scope of this to be all numbers but I doubt that’d go down well when the minimum allocation in some blocks is 10000 numbers.

  4. Avatar photo Chris Sayers says:

    Wowza, not really ported then, I understood that porting ment your new provider had that number in “there” pool of numbers.

    1. Avatar photo JP says:

      It is rather alarming to think that the actions or status of a previous provider could affect the validity of your number really

  5. Avatar photo Blake says:

    That’s very interesting. Definitely worth going with an actual network first then subsequently port if you wish to a possibly risky MVNO. Glad my main number was with Three first, been with several networks now back to Three. The second number with RWG now for cheap EE use is from O2 originally.

    If you port multiple times does it bounce around all the networks you’ve been with or does a look up table at the original network always ensure it goes to the current one you are now with?

    1. Avatar photo Simon Farnsworth says:

      Ofcom track the originally assigned network, and publish that. The original network maintains a look-up of the current routing location for your phone, and will direct an incoming call straight to that location, without going through all of the intermediate operators your number might have been with.

      So, for example, my number was originally a Cellnet number; I ported it to Vodafone, then Orange, then Three, then Orange, then T-Mobile, then EE. When you call me, Ofcom’s database tells your provider to check with O2 (as the successor in interest to Cellnet); O2 tells your provider to route the call through EE. Vodafone and Three are completely uninvolved in this process, even though my number spent time on their networks in the past.

  6. Avatar photo Robin says:

    My number started life as a Cellnet analogue number so who might be the originator be? BT or maybe O2. Is there any way to find out?

    1. Avatar photo Blake says:

      Cellnet eventually become O2 so they will own the original number and be responsible for forwarding onwards

    2. Avatar photo Gregor Strachan says:

      If you enter your number, into the Magenta Systems Dialling Code Lookup database, it will show the actual lessor (i.e. owner) of the number block:

      https://www.telecom-tariffs.co.uk/codelook.htm

  7. Avatar photo Gavin says:

    The response from Ofcom is a classic MP response.

  8. Avatar photo The facts says:

    Numbers are:
    7451 0
    7451 1
    7451 3
    7451 4
    7451 8
    7451 9
    7457 0
    7457 1
    7457 3
    7457 5
    7465 0
    7465 1
    7520 2
    7589 4
    7589 5
    7589 6
    7589 7
    7892 1

  9. Avatar photo NE555 says:

    “To do a free number change, contact us as soon as possible at idmobile.co.uk/contact-us”

    But if idmobile goes under, you’ll be in the same position again.

    Better off to get a new number from one of the big providers – like a free PAYG EE SIM – and then port it to whoever you want.

    1. Avatar photo Munehaus says:

      ID Mobile are issuing numbers allocated to Three, so as long as Three doesn’t go down you’ll be fine. 🙂

  10. Avatar photo Ben says:

    Very strange — looks like Vectone has a non-trivial number of geographic ranges as well as their mobile ranges (source: https://www.telecom-tariffs.co.uk/codelook.htm?xid=1301&operator=6848). Any idea what they used them for?

    1. Avatar photo Koda says:

      Landline on mobile. It was a feature where you could get a virtual geographic number for your business and make it call your Vectone mobile phone.

      That, or it will be from when their parent company made a very brief attempt to offer home services.

  11. Avatar photo Chris says:

    Phone numbers are hierarchical, a bit like up addresses,

    The first 6 digits identify an owning operator a bit like a landline dialling code. The owning operator then processes the rest of the digits either checking for airtime credit balance or forwarding to an onward operator for the same.

    When it works no one cares how it works.

    I had an issue 20 years ago phoning a mobile from abroad, turns out the foreign operator didn’t have the 6 digit owner operator in their database so couldn’t initiate the call. I went into the foreign operator’s (C&W) office and one of their techs explained all, couldn’t fix it though as they needed Vodafone to send them the range.

    Was really interesting

  12. Avatar photo Rob says:

    I reported (a hugely difficult process) Vectone to Ofcom years ago for breach of Ofcom rules including dodgy activities with numbers, Ofcom accepted they were in breach of rules but did nothing about it

  13. Avatar photo Talat Omer says:

    Fed up with bad service from vectone. I just want to keep my phone number but can’t get a PAC code because no one is answering calls nor the website work. Just stuck. Does anyone know how else I can keep my phone number and switch providers? Surely customers can’t be left to the mercy of rouge operators like Vectone…. It should be possible to bypass them

    1. Avatar photo Mr R says:

      Have you sent the word PAC via SMS to 65075 ?

  14. Avatar photo MilesT says:

    Ofcom should be running a “operator of last resort” type of scheme, to initiate a bulk transfer of accounts to a viable operator when an MVNO goes bust, including administration of number ranges.

    Similar to what Ofgem does for energy companies.

    1. Avatar photo A_Builder says:

      Indeed they should.

      However, OFCOM have zero technical nous.

  15. Avatar photo Mr R says:

    Number porting does seem to be something of a pain.

    I had a number, originally from Vodafone. I took service from EE. Ceased it years later. However since being ceased. The number has never been completely ceased.

    If you call it, it just has the engaged tone for a few seconds then cuts off.

    I became aware of this as I tried to get the number re-activated by Vodafone (assuming it’d have returned to them) but they were like “no its still with EE” and EE were like “no idea what you’re talking about”.

    Since becoming aware of this, I had a couple of friends share they had the same experience with Vodafone numbers that’d been ported out to BT Mobile and then ceased at a later point. Just plays the busy tone. One guy had a colleague tell him that his line was always busy.

    You’d think EE/BT would have been obligated to return these numbers after a period of time.

  16. Avatar photo Neil says:

    For all those wanting to port away from Vectone hoping to get a proper service back – dont bother.
    As others have said the original number allocation defines who initially processes an incoming call & text. I am on O2 (and apart from 3 days originally on Delight Mobile – part of Vectone) have never been on Vectone. I am in the position (since start of Nov) not being able to receive texts and O2 have advised the only guaranteed way of fixing this is to get a new number.
    Unless Ofcom change the whole way number portability is implemented in this country (they failed about 10 years ago) then this will continue to be an issue.
    Even if Ofcom or the UK Gov step in it wont be a 5 minute fix.

  17. Avatar photo MB says:

    I had same issues and tried lebara then lyca but it was getting worse but it’s completely working fine with EE, get EE PAYG, get £10 bundle and try your luck, it’s worked for me

    1. Avatar photo Sam says:

      @MB are you able to receive texts and calls fine after switching to EE PAYG?

    2. Avatar photo Faddi says:

      Hi MB,
      Was your original number issued by Vectone?

  18. Avatar photo Neil says:

    Now gone from bad to worse and no longer receiving phone calls (and am on O2) from any network outside of O2 and the only solution O2 say now is to change numbers.

    1. Avatar photo vectone issues says:

      Same here.

  19. Avatar photo Mike says:

    I’m with Smarty now, can’t get calls or texts outside of Smarty or Three network ( Smarty uses Three.s network)
    I could call 2 numbers, a Three and another one, don’t know it’s provider
    It seems Ofcom ducks and haven’t thought about these kind of situations. I hope they might be able to sort it out soon and with no drastic approaches ( changing the numbers)

  20. Avatar photo Sam says:

    I was on O2 and I could not receive any text/iMessage since late October. O2 were unaware of what happened and kept claiming ‘everything was fine with my network’ and could not resolve it.

    I eventually switched to 1pmobile and I can receive texts fine but not calls, callers get hung up as soon as they ring me, as if the number did not exist. Looking back at what happened in October with O2 it’s certainly associated with Vectone.

    So, switching out to another provider certainly gives you a chance of solving some problems of calls/texts. I feel that what IDmobile tried to suggest was only preventing people from switching out from them.

    I’m planning to live with it as this is a very nice number. I trust Ofgem can’t let this hang on forever and will come up with a solution in due course.

  21. Avatar photo David Evans says:

    Why does Ofcom not get a kicking for allowing this situation to exist? Surely they must have anticipated an operator going under at some point? They seem utterly toothless as a regulator.

    Many people use their mobiles for their livelihoods and Ofcom telling them to change their numbers is totally unacceptable. If they issue the number blocks, then surely there must be some way of re-routing those numbers if the original operator fails in its obligations.

    Ofgem does it with energy suppliers – if one goes under, provisions are immediately there to transfer supply to another, more reputable, supplier.

    1. Avatar photo Vectone Villain says:

      100% agree. The situation with my number is untenable and literally don’t receive any calls or texts anymore (like the poster above on O2) except for those on my now network Three.

      I do think even if by some miraculous reason all the important stakeholders from Ofcom decided this needs doing, it still wouldn’t be a quick fix.

  22. Avatar photo Samia Ishag says:

    I can’t receive any calls and massages
    Please unlock my number so I can call

Comments are closed

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