Sunday, October 22, 2006

Number portability

In.Tech's Jo Timbuong reported on Oct 19 about mobile number portability (MNP) which (supposedly) will be available to cellphone users in Malaysia by December next year.
In case you're new to the topic, number portability refers to the ability to switch cellphone service providers and still keep the same number.
If you've ever switched providers, you'll know what a hassle it is to inform all your contacts about your new number, epecially of you have hundreds of contacts.
Worse, quite a few users will not answer calls or reply to SMSes from a "strange" number.

The service providers are well aware of this, of course, and absolutely do not want number portability. They will typically cite "technical hurdles", "high costs" or "hurts branding" as reasons for not implementing it.
Now that cellphone service is basically a commodity, your cellphone number is one last way for companies to ensure your "loyalty".
MCMC's Datuk Dr Halim Shafie said countries like Britain, Finland and Austria have already introduced MNP.
"Telcos in those countries have improved their delivery services since MNP was implemented," he said.

However, M'sian subscribers are not confident MNP here will be on schedule. After all, MNP was proposed as far back as 2004, and was supposed to be in effect last year!
A couple of quotes which appeared in the In.Tech print issue say it all:
"Implementing it will cost the telcos a lot in terms of infrastructure and I don’t see it materialising soon," said C.Y. Tan. "If they had wanted MNP, they would have introduced it already."
"Maybe we'll have it by the time the 12th Malaysia Plan is announced (in about 15 years time)?", said Saifulnizam Taat.

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