Users will be able to retain their mobile phone or pager numbers should they choose to do so, when they switch operators from 1 April 1997. This number portability (NP) will be offered by all operators to mobile phone and pager ...
Users will be able to retain their mobile phone or pager numbers should they choose to do so, when they switch operators from 1 April 1997. This number portability (NP) will be offered by all operators to mobile phone and pager users as they have finalized their technical and commercial negotiations on NP. With this, Singapore will be among the first in the world to have NP for mobile communications.
NP allows users to switch operators while retaining their mobile phone or pager numbers. The need to change these numbers may act as a barrier to users' willingness to switch operators and hence limit the effect of competition. Thus, while the state of NP technology is not yet mature, TAS has mandated that mobile operators consider ways to provide users the choice of keeping their existing numbers when they switch operators from 1 April 1997 with the introduction of competition.
Phased Number Portability Solutions
The mobile communications operators will adopt a phased approach to implementing NP, starting with an initial measure on 1 April 1997 using the call-forwarding facility for mobile phone NP and using Singapore Telecom (SingTel)'s existing Automatic Interception Service (AIS) for paging NP. For those who switch operators and choose to retain their existing numbers, calls and pages made to their existing numbers will automatically be forwarded from the system of the previous operator through their new operator's system. Operators will continue to work on a long term NP measure based on the intelligent network platform, but this can only be implemented when the technology is more mature. Contrary to an earlier press report that true number portability cannot be effected come 1 April 1997 because operators cannot agree on the financial issues, the reason true NP cannot be implemented is the present state of technology which is not yet mature. Hence, all operators have agreed to a phased approach to effect NP at this time.
The mobile communications operators have already begun NP trials since mid-February 1997 and are ready to launch commercial services with NP from 1 April 1997.
To effect NP, there will be administrative and network element costs incurred for use of resources. All the operators have negotiated and reached an agreement on the charges to be shared among themselves. These commercial negotiations were facilitated by TAS.
Whether the operators will absorb or pass the cost to users will depend on their business decisions. The operators have filed their NP charges to users with TAS. These range from $8-$10 per month, which TAS has assessed this cost to be fair. Most operators will absorb the NP end-user charges for the first few months.
As is the case today under the one operator environment, those who want to switch between cellular or paging systems may need to change their handsets or pagers. Users who like to keep their existing numbers when switching operators should consult their operators on whether there is a need to change the handset or pager, because of the different operating systems and frequencies.
Number Portability from 1 April 1997
With this initial NP measures in place, mobile phone and pager users will be able to retain their present numbers if they want to switch operators from 1 April 1997. TAS commends the operators for their full co-operation and efforts in making NP possible from 1 April 1997.