7 October 2005 

I want to switch telco but the present system of number portability is just too troublesome and not "true". I would wait for the new system or will never change telcos. 

This is the same thing as the debate over no charges for the receiving party. It is just simply illogical. The caller would be most willing to pay if he deems that the call is important. I am at the end of endless unsolicited sales calls which I have to pay, which is downright ridiculous. It is worse if I am abroad and incur auto-roaming charges. 

The 3 telcos will always have objection due to their own commercial considerations. IDA should do what is right. 

- Sim Swee Bee - 

I would like to express my support for the IDA's proposal to implement full, genuine number portability among the 3 telcos. The current forwarding system is cumbersome and is patently not a genuine system of number portability as the new numbers are reflected whenever a call is made or SMS is sent. 

I was hoping for true number portability to be implemented a few years ago when the IDA proposed it, but the compromise solution which was adopted in the end left much to be desired. 

For one, I wanted to switch telcos at the end of my contract late last year but was deterred by the fact that I would effectively lose my current number which not only do I personally like, but have also been using for over 2 years. 

Another incident which highlighted the inadequacies of the current system came to light when I sent a SMS to a friend I hadn't contacted in some time, and received a reply from a number which was alien to me. I had to waste time (not to mention a SMS) to confirm it was indeed him before I realised that he'd "ported" his number over to a new telco. 

It is ironic that despite it being touted as number "portability", we have to take up a new number to effect the change. Besides that, it is the new number which is reflected on outgoing calls and messages. 

Therefore I would definitely be in favour of a genuine system of number portability to be implemented in Singapore. Kudos for bringing the issue up again. 

- Dominic Leong - 

I think its a great idea to have full number portability. I had been wanting to change operator for a plan that suits me better, but the idea had be shelved because of number portability. I don't wish to go through the hassle of getting all my contacts to change my number. Thanks 

- Ian Lau - 

If I could vote, I would put in as much votes as I can for this proposal. It is something that is long overdue and gives true meaning to the words "number portability". In fact, I have always wondered why such a system is not in place here in Singapore given our technological advancements, which shouldn't make the implementation that difficult. 

At the moment, the arrangement only gives the subscriber limited number portability in the sense that having changed the operator, he would still have to inform his friends of his new number, otherwise those with caller ID would be wondering who is calling them. Although not carry out this step won't do much damage, other than not being able to receive MMS sent to the old number. Either way, it defeats the purpose of paying for number portability. 

With this system, the subscriber only had to change the operator, and everything else is transparent to the subscriber's friends, as they are still able to send and receive SMS, MMS and phone calls like usual - seamless as the news have reported. 

Implementing this central database only serves to wake the mobile operators up from their sleep that they may lock in users who may be hesitant to switch operators due to the 'golden' numbers that they have control of. It should be able to improve mobile services and coverage in Singapore, as they know that a number without a contract may well mean one less subscriber who is not satisfied with the services and the such but is reluctant to move because of the need to obtain another number. This move should force mobile operators to provide better service, come up with better customer loyalty rewards and even better service plans in a bid to gain market share over their fellow competitors, barring the operators forming a cartel. 

Operators have given costs as the primary reason, and many subscribers must have seen the reason as nothing better than an excuse for them being worried that such a system would mean the subscribers without a contract having the freedom to change operators and hence hurting their revenue. It is a double-edged sword. In fact the cost of such a system ought to be borne by the operators and not passed onto the consumers, as it is part of operating costs! 

In conclusion, I am all for such a system as I, for one, have been reluctant to move away from M1 for 2 reasons, firstly is the number that I hold which I consider as a rather nice and easy to remember one, and secondly, the need to obtain a new number from the new operator (and hence the need to inform my contacts). Surprisingly, customer loyalty and customer service are not the primary reasons for my staying on with M1. In fact, these 2 reasons are part of the reasons why I would like to leave M1. It also does not help that M1's handsets and service plans are typically the most expensive amongst the 3 operators. I've done my maths long ago and am ready for a switch when it comes! 

I would be happy to take any questions or make any clarifications if required. 

- Aloysius Low - 

I was very happy to see the news in the 'Today' newspaper about IDA's contemplation for introducing full number portability. 

This will truly improve the competition and ultimately the service to the customer which is in urgent need. 

There have been many times I have wanted to switch mobile carriers but did not do so only because I could not take my number along with me completelly (I want people to see my old number when I call). I believe carriers are taking advantage of this fact and forcing down unfavourable service plans on customers that reap in much profit for them yet do disservice to the customer. For example I was forced by M1 to sign up for Sunsurf even though my phone can't even support GPRS because M1 knew that I wouldn't change carriers! I am sure many other customers have also been coerced into taking up such unneeded services. This is not the way customers should be treated and IDA should make every effort to curtail such behaviour by the mobile carriers. 

IDA should not bow to the telco carriers vain arguments about cost. The costs are negligible: investment, operational and administrative costs Eg. an IP (assuming it is cheaper and viable alternative to SS7) connection to the central number portability database is negligible cost when considering that it is being paid for by over 5 million personal and corporate subscriber accounts in Singapore) 

I applaud IDA for taking such initiative to improve telco service standards here in Singapore and sincerely hope that IDA will go ahead and order the mobile carriers to introduce true number portability. 

- Sendhuran Govindan - 

I definitely support IDA's initiative to make mobile phone nos completely portable. Right now we are at the mercy of the telco with whom we have signed up for the service - because we will lose our unique phone no. if we switch to another telco. 

Also, in a free market situation that we are trying to promote, it definitely will be advantageous for consumers to switch around so that we can maximise on various promotions by the 3 service providers. Right now, we are prevented from doing so because we will lose our phone no. 

Please continue to take up the challenge in overcoming the telcos' resistance to the move. They can always keep their loyal customers through more attractive retention plans, pricing policies, service standards, etc. It just means that they have to work harder to keep their customers "captive". 

- Francis Yong- 

If true number portability is really implemented, then this will indeed be a VERY GOOD thing for Singapore and consumers at large. 

We will finally be catching up to the rest of the world in the implementating of technology for the masses. Indeed, local mobile phone companies are already anticipating true number portability to be implemented. Mostly, contracts nowadays are for 21 months or more instead of the 12 months previously. 

For at once, we as consumers will be truly weighing mobile operators based on their service level, network coverage & the true cost of usage etc instead of being constraint by some factors. 

Example, I've not switch operators for the last 12 years or so because so many of my friends and business associates have my number. The trouble to inform everyone is immense. 

I, for one, will consider switching if true number portability happens. 

I believe that true number portability will bring about a freer market, one that will benefit local consumers; A better balanced market will emerge from one that's dominated by the whimp and fancy of the 3 telcos. 

Maybe CASE should consider taking up this on behalf of consumers at large. 

- Lee Kah Meng - 

Definitely 2 thumbs up~! 

Reason: Even though service providers offer number retention, its still not a good system as its only a number forwarding (though some people still dont know yet). This has definitely been a factor that caused a user to think twice in switching service providers. 

- Chris Thng - 

IDA should have implemented true number portability a long time ago, instead of allowing the telcos to hide behind excuses of high costs of implementation. 

Subscribers have a right to switch service providers when the service is bad, and not slapped with forwarding costs in return. Where's the customers' right in this? 

If Singapore wants to be an open, matured and vibrant country state, IDA must insist that telcos support true number portability. 

One last question, is this spurred by PM Lee's national day speech? 

- G.W. CP - 

This has been a long time coming. The telcos locally have been protecting their turf by making it difficult for its subscribers to switch, with excuses like high implementation costs etc etc. To me, its all bull, and high time that IDA force their hands. 

If IDA really believes in TRUE number portability, this is long long overdue! I am all for it. 

- Chen Chin Sang - 

I am responding to your article on the front page of the Straits Times, 07 Sep 05, whereby you are soliciting for feedback on true number portability. 

To decide on true number portability, I think we first have to ask ourselves the fundamental/philosophical questions: 

  1. What is the telecommunications road map/vision for Singapore?
  2. What is the role of the IDA?
  3. Do we want a competitive environment?

I think the answer to #1 is quite clear on your website. If the vision is to make Singapore an Infocomm Capital of the world, we would need (non-protective) policies that would encourage such development as well as creating a level playing field. From my commercial perspective, the more regulated a market is, the more inefficient it is. And the more inefficient it is, the more the supply side can profit at the expense of the demand side (ie the consumers). Ultimately, Regulated and Development conflict each other. 

In your website, you also mention (one of) Connected Singapore's objectives, which in turn governs IDA's policies, as fostering partnerships, within the Infocomm industry, between Singapore and the world. In a regulated environment, you can attract one or two foreign participants (the early birds), because regulation allows them to recover their investment. But Infocomm is a very unique industry where things/trends (particularly technology, business models) change at a very dynamically. 

In a regulated environment, what incentive is there for the early birds to help the development? Afterall, they are making profits, and why change a good thing. At the same time, late comers, even though they may posses the relevant technology, skills, resources, etc to help the development of the industry, are reluctant to participate because policies protect the incumbents. What then become of the Infocomm industry? More likely than not, it becomes stagnant. 

In short, I am a believer that if our country wants to develop its Infocomm capabilities and standing, then policies, rules and regulations should be as de-regulated as possible. No doubt that at the end of the day, the consumer would probably be the biggest beneficiary. But isn't that the objective? 

With protective policies, there is no incentive (for suppliers) to continuously improve (either in terms of technology, service, marketing or otherwise);With protective policies, the entrepreneurial spirit is curtailed. One does not have to work very hard to make extraordinary profits; And once that mindset is cast in stone, then how does these companies compete on a global platform where the competitive environment is many magnitudes more fierce (compared to Singapore). And once that mindset is cast in stone, it takes generations to unwind, which in turn means a lot of wasted resources (time, financial or otherwise). 

Does Singapore have the resources (R&D facilities, technology, people, supporting infrastructure), on its own, to develop its Infocomm landscape? Quite unlikely not. And it is likely that the vision of Connected Singapore can be achieved with the help of foreign participation. With regulation, you can attract one or two foreigners. But is that what we want? Bear in mind that a regulated environment can only accommodate a small number of players. If the country really wants to develop its Infocomm capabilities, then given that Infocomm is actually more difficult to understand than people give it credit, foreign participation is inevitable. 

I am in favour of true number portability, for both the fixed and mobile markets. I believe such technology, and even more advance technologies, already exist with our telcos, but are not introduced for commercial reasons. 
Is that fair to the consumer? 
Does that breed a complacent attitude? 
Does an Infocomm Capital keep technologies to launch "on a rainy day"? 

Allow me to give you an example. The advancement of mobile technology has allowed the creation of many independent application service providers ("ASPs"). What I have noticed is that the telcos in Singapore generally do not want to work with these ASPs on a revenue-sharing basis, thus denying these ASPs a genuine opportunity to flourish and contribute to the Infocomm industry (remember the origin of Microsoft Windows). Rather, because of the disparity in balance sheet between the telcos and ASPs, the telcos generally take advantage of their financial advantage and "usurp" the technology for their own. Who suffers in this scenario? The ASPs and the consumer. The situation is completely the different in Hong Kong where service standards, pricing, etc are more competitive. And because the market is competitive, the telcos are forced to push products out quickly. And as a result, they are more open to working with ASPs. This in turn forces other ASPs to improve themselves and come up with more ingenious products which other telcos are prepared to carry. And it is this competition which encourages growth in the industry, and probably makes Hong Kong more of an Infocomm Capital than Singapore. And given that Hong Kong has China as a hinterland market, does that not already give it a leg-up over Singapore, even if policies are like-for-like? 

Let the market to weed out the inefficient providers, and reward the efficient ones. 

Just my humble opinion. 

- Timothy Yong - 

I am all for the latest move by IDA on full number portability.it will ease the concern on consumers like me. 

- Gareth Tan - 

I am very much happy to read the today's news on telephone number portability between the service providers, it is a great move and it leads Singapore into more advanced and more professional world. Please go ahead and implement the system as soon as possible. Hats Off to all the IDA staff who are all behind this wonderful venture 

- S Ramu - 

IDA's push for a centralized database to make mobile numbers portable is an excellent initiative. 

1) With the choice of keeping their existing numbers, consumers do not need to think twice when switching operators. This is a major consideration each time a contract expires and consumers have to stick to their existing operator if they wish to keep full functionability of their existing number. This move will help to keep operators on their toes to provide the best service to consumers as switchover between operators is almost seamless. I suspect this is the main reason why these operators are not giving their full support to this proposal. 

2) With number portability, more consumers may stick to their old number when switching operators, thus less new numbers will be required to be generated. Currently, we have "8" & "9" prefix. When "8" was first introduced, there was some confusion. With the choice of keeping existing numbers, it will be a long while to go before another new prefix is required. 

3) The telcos have no reason to complain about the setting up costs for a central database. What is $10 million shared between 3 big companies? After earning so much money from consumers, its only fair that they contribute back. In any case, I am sure these companies have one way or another to pass on this cost back to consumers - directly or indirectly. 
With the above, I fully support IDA's initiative as it will maintain competitiveness in the telecommunication industry and it also offers more choices for consumers. 

- Melvin Teo Wee Chun - 

I refer to the article, "All phone numbers may go mobile," (Straits Times, 7 September 2005) 

I welcome the proposed change to enable phone users to retain their phone numbers. I have been subscribing to the services of my present operator for more than three years. The loyalty is not due to satisfaction with the services it provides but to avoid the hassle of informing every of my friends and colleagues about the change in my contact number. 

According to SingTel, "number portability is not a significant driver of customer churn or competition." This view is highly debatable. Telcos have every reason to oppose the move. There is no denying that being able to retain numbers will make switching operators even more tempting to phone users. IDA should do a survey to try and gauge the number of phone users who have been reluctant to switch operators because of the hassle of changing phone numbers. Alternatively, it could try and determine the number of users who would switch operators if the proposed change is implemented. 

I look forward to the day when I could change operator without having to change my phone number. 

- Abdul Shariff Bin Aboo Kassim - 

I am glad that the IDA is studying the possibility of creating a centralized database to make mobile number portability seamless. It would be best if a reasonable one time fee could be charged to obtain such portability in number where the consumer is not burdened / penalized for wanting to keep his / her number. I believe that allowing such number portability would ensure greater competition amongst the three existing mobile operators - which should ultimately benefit the consumer. 

- Brian Tan - 

This morning papers brought good news that IDA is now considering offering true portability. The current mode of having to subscribe to a new number and linking just does not work well and is also confusing. This clearly shows IDA is constantly evolving and keeping up with the times. Keep up the good work and I look forward to the change to enable a better improved system of offering full portability. 

- Roy Tan - 

yes indeed we want to progress and not degress in the real world of globalisation. Certainly singapore is not in that advanced stage of technology as compared to usa but then we should be mindful of regional competition. Since that there is such a facility available IDA should make it very clear to telco operators to do it and not allowing them to pick and choose. There is bound to be cost involved but the profits which they reaped they are remain silent about it. At the end of the day, who suffers and gain. The country must stand to gain and not operators decide what they can or cannot do. 

- Allan Chong - 

Having read the news from 'Today' regarding IDA intention to create a centralised database to make mobile number portability seamless. I am really looking forward to it. All these time, I have never considered of switching operator because of inconvenience of the caller id change. The current so called portability is simply a call forwarding system. I hope IDA will implement the centralised database soon. I believe the onetime switching cost charge by operator should be sufficient for them to recover the cost of system change. 

- Lioe Bun Wan - 

I have read today's news with interest. It has been few years if not longer IDA has been encouraging for true number portability. However, the progress is not of any significant change. 

As a mobile phone user, we all know that how important it is to keep ones number without changing it frequently or when you change mobile subscriber. This is very true when you are in sales industry these days. As a user, we would like to see the true number portability to be carried out as much as IDA. 

It has been the cost that local mobile providers have been used to deter the full implementation. However, if IDA research is correct (that is the cost is only a mere S$10 million), the cost can be evenly spread by 3 telco (each is about only S$3.33 million). Now, telcos have no more excuse. Personally, i think telcos are afraid of losing customers to rival at the expense of consumers benefit. 

I think it is time IDA to implement/execute this rule and spread the cost evenly to 3 telcos even if subscribers have to pay/bear. I think it is still worth it. Anyway, what is S$3.33 million to a telco whose yearly net profit is more than S$100 million if not more. 

FYI, i have a Hong Kong friend working here informed that Hong Kong has implemented this true portability long ago. So, what are we waiting for?? 

- Alan Ng Mong Hau - 

I think this is an excellent idea. I like it. Great Initiative. 

- Poon Joo Wee - 

My clear vote is yes, go for it. If the estimated cost is already down by 90 %, With this being the case, the most important issue now is the ''credible & advance'' image of Singapore as a very important communications hub in the region if not the world. IDA should catch this opportunity now in furthering this agenda. Modern Successful societies are about how they, given the same conditions as others, are able to organise and order their societies more successfully than others. 

- Yip KS - 

I am a member of the public and user of phone services. I do not work in telecoms or an associated industry; I am a book publisher. My employer is Cambridge University Press. 
  1. On the evidence presented in your review paper it seems to me that the existing number portability implementation is no longer relevant and does not support a competitive industry environment.

  2. The need to retain my existing phone number is probably the single overriding factor in my not reviewing my choice of service provider. This is as true of my mobile phone (provided by my employer) as for my domestic fixed line. Pricing transparency is a significant additional obstacle to reviewing service provider. It was only recently, for example, that I spotted that my wife's M1 plan was an extremely uneconomical one for her usage pattern (low usage, almost all domestic, virtually no SMS). The current porting timeframes sound unreasonable to me. We recently upgraded our Starhub cable TV service to include the new BBC Prime. The switch was completed within an hour. Starhub clearly has an incentive to help under such circumstances. Meanwhile the same company takes a week to switch phone users over. I accept that there is a need for Starhub to interface with other providers or a central database if they are changing someone's phone number; but the contrast between one hour and seven days suggests that the incentives need to be sharpened for good phone service provision.

  3. See 2 above. The issues are not different from my perspective.

  4. Much of this debate is beyond my ability to comment, on technical grounds. However, you can see from my response to 2 (iii) above that I believe incentives to the operators are at the core of the service standards that will be delivered. Given that belief, a "consortium" (your word) sounds awfully like a closed shop. It might have the effect of excluding entrants, especially those using new technologies such as wireless IP. An independent regulator that sets (apparently) unreasonably high standards would almost certainly deliver more competitive outcomes.

  5. I agree that inter-modal number portability would be helpful. Compared to the economic benefits of such portability, the ability to infer from a "6" prefix that someone is using a fixed line, for instance, seems to me to be practically irrelevant.

  6. I understand and broadly accept the arguments that a centralised database has the potential for delivering further and value-added services and supporting industry development in related technical areas. I would caution, however, that many of the Intellectual-Property issues associated with the delivery of such services, especially in an international arena, have yet to be addressed satisfactorily, in any country. I suggest that this "advantage" of the database be relegated to a low position in your reasoning. It may turn out to be worth having; but don't base your argument on it, would be my suggestion.

  7. I am not technically qualified to answer this question.

- Peter John Davison - 

I am very glad to hear that there is plan to implement portability for mobile number. I have been considering to change the service plan, which is under another service provider. I could not do so because I need to keep the number. The only concern is whether the price for the service will go up due to this new implementation. 

- Joseph Toh HL - 

The current MNP scenario is Singapore is lacking in providing a world class service level to the subscribers. There are 3 aspects to this matter. 

The Operators have invested in the SMS forwarding mechanism and incurs the call forwarding charges (incl. inefficient use of numbers) as necessary for the current implementation. This cost to them is rather minimal at the moment (empirical observation which needs to be verified with statistical proof) since the porting traffic is not high. 

Equilibrium has been achieved thus far with follower strategy and market distribution has been fairly stable (except of prepaid market where MNP is not so pronounced since the demographics has an overwhelming preference of cost rather than convenience of number retention). 

For the cost conscious, simply discard the old number and opt for new ones (esp. prepaid) is fine. Note: these are generally low spending users and not using the numbers for business purposes 

For the business users where accessibility and contact cannot be compromised, number retention obstacle has hindered most to port (the company is paying for the phone bills anyways). 

The "real" money spinner here lies in the high-spending corporate users, who does not care about the phone bills since its paid by the company. The current MNP in Singapore is restrictive and does not allow a fair option for the corporate HR to switch its employees' plans for cost savings purposes. 

The current MNP retains such users quite effectively. It provides a strong hold on the subscriber (not due to innovative value added services or pricing but rather number retention capability). On the flip side of the coin, it also makes the acquisition cost of "new" high end user to be unusually high. This is not the characteristics of a free competing market. 

Singapore as communication Hub
The 3rd aspect pertains to the image and branding that Singapore strives toward. How can it be viewed as advocating free trade and innovation when its domestic mobile market still lingers in the Jurassic period? 

Yes, the current NP implementation does provide a major hindrance for one considering a switch of Service Operator. 

i. Ability to retain the old number is very important in deciding such a switch. Features package and price comes next. 
ii. Yes I have.. eventually I did it due to cost considerations 
iii. No, the MNP now is not adequate. The CLI problem and inability to support advanced services such as MMS and data services is unacceptable. 

Despite having third party to manage this, still need to address security/privacy/operational issues. The cost of setup and maintenance remains a sensitive issue. 

Some major issues are: 
i. Will the porting traffic details between two Operators be shared with the third? 
ii. Will the porting proportion be used as basis on cost sharing of the centralized database? 
iii. Is the third neutral party secured/trustworthy? 
iv. Is the data secured (loss of data due to failure)? 
v. Is the data confidential (not shared with others for promotional purposes)? 
vi. Should each Operator maintain local copies for operational security and performance reasons 

My opinion: Setup/maintenance cost should be minimal and equally distributed to the Operators. The effects of MNP to them can work both ways, each Operator should strive to provide innovative services and packaging to gain subscribers. They should not be penalized for this if a huge part of the database resource is devoted to their benefit. 

The centrally-managed database approach is still ideal because it allows: 

i. Easily measurable effects of MNP in local market 
ii. Easy access to porting details (for national security purposes only) 
iii. Easier management of bilateral agreements between donor and subscription networks 

For implementation, direct routing should be chosen because it does not burden the donor network unnecessarily. 

The central database is required because most VASes offered today are based on MSISDN charging instead of IMSI and the central database the most straightforward and direct method to resolve this situation in Singapore. (Every Operator must ensure a smooth transition of such changes to their existing services and billing procedures/ system to accommodate for this centralized approach). 

The neutral party running the database must be independent of the Operators as its core team. An advisory board should be established consisting of representatives from all the Operators and IDA. 

This organization has several key benefits: 
i. Core team will not be biased in information sharing 
ii. Representatives from Operators ensures opinions and consensus are obtained prior to other uses of the data 
iii. An important note: This is not a democratic arrangement. An action on the data usage should not occur unless complete consensus is obtained. 

The delinking of numbering levels has major implications: 
i. A lot of existing applications performs checks based on the numbering levels for AAA functions. 
ii. Billing is often determined based on the numbering levels 
iii. Even with centralized database captured such information & the added integration with all the Billing systems of the Operators will be a major investment and stability concern 

Pertaining to the common platform uses: 
For content providers, the centralized database should only be used as authentication purposes and not for content or billing settlement, otherwise, there will not be any differentiator for the individual Operator and the respective vendor. 

Key considerations: 
i. Does it offer differing rates to the various Operator? If so, based on traffic? Or some criteria? 
ii. Exclusive use of content? 
iii. The common content may be used for more general /national items like NSMen recall, national day rally clips, charity donation media, etc. 

For the rest of the common platform uses as described in the paper, the database will not simply contain the ported numbers only but every detail of all subscribers of the Operators and has proposition to take over part of the billing aspects of the Operators. Unless all Operators intends to outsource this to the same provider (this neutral party). it feats the purpose of fair game since the Operators cannot opt for another vendor. 

A centralized database can be used for mobile groups/inter-national uses in areas of advertising, tourism, security and services (such as international banking transactions over mobile, etc). 

i. Centralised database implementation is possible and realizable in near future 
ii. Each Operator must ensure complete integration and change in procedures to support this 
iii. The management of the centralized database is more complicated and has to prevent fraudulent use by establish sound organizational and procedural practices by the neutral party 
iv. Nine months is not adequate considering that existing applications within Operator's premises must all change to check the MSISDN from the central database. Besides, the key component is the establishment of rules on the use of the centralized database.

- Joseph Chia Teck Chin - 

I was reading with interest the article on the number retention subject and would like to offer my support to this scheme and in fact, many of us in the office feels the same. currently we need to be charged for the change to other telco. it is indeed very inconvenient to change number for the hp i am using is already more than 15 years my number. 

however, when users prefer to use certain telco, we are not given the option to choose , but have to pay for the service to divert all the calls. it is indeed very inconvenient. hence, we truly support this act to waive all charges and let the users have the option to choose which telco we prefer. 

thanks ! looking forward to the system to be implemented soon! 

- Ms Law - 

I am excited by this consultation paper. It is about time, if not already too late to move to full portability! 

I have never considered changing service provider - simply because of the inability to port my mobile number. 

I have been attracted to the price plans of other players eg StarHub and M1. But the thought of having to use a new number and having to inform all my contacts and updating various organisations eg banks, insurance companies etc of the new number effectively killed my desire and the competition. 

The current pseudo-portability effectively requires us to change our number. It is not a good solution. 

As regards fixed number portability, it is not yet an issue for me. However, based on some past queries, it appears that even within the same service provider, a number may not be fully portable. I was told by the service provider that transferring one of my fixed lines to my in-laws home is dependent on the ability of the exchange to support the number. 

So for full fixed line portability, it is imperative that a number can be moved to any new location without constraints imposed by a physical infrastructure eg the exchange. 

I also fully agree with the view of the future where inter-modal portability becomes important. In fact, my fixed line is so seldom used that it may well become redundant if the telcos do not allow inter-modal portability or review their price plans. 

With inter-modal portability, the telcos should concurrently revise their price structure so that a call from either a fixed line or mobile number should cost the same. Further, the charging structure should be revised so that the caller pays for the calls instead of the receiver so businesses like call centres etc will reflect the true costs of their business instead of having mobile users bear their costs. 

The above though needs to be considered carefully as more and more businesses move to automated call-handling for customer queries and requests. It may inadvertently cause consumers to incur higher costs if the businesses do not provide toll-free numbers. 

Overall, I believe full number portability will result in a truly competitive market with little or no barriers to competition. Telcos will need to compete on price and real value-added services which should benefit consumers. 

- Ang Hock Chuan - 

I read the news that number portability is potentially being implemented and you were seeking comments from the public. 

I am a PR who has been living in Singapore for over 9 years working for a local company, multi-nationals and starting a business where I brought in $20mil investment into Singapore. One of the reasons I have stayed here for so long, besides the great food, is the business infrastructure in place. One of the key aspects is the competitive, market oriented environment that helps the customer receive cost competitive, high level services in most areas. 

Number portability will be another great addition and attractive point for businesses and individuals looking to locate to Singapore. The providers will have to compete on service and price rather than the artificial number lock with the current system which limits choice and flexibility. 

- John Saliling - 

It is great to know that IDA (infocomm Development Authority) is taking steps to liberalise the telecommunication market by allowing "true" phone number portability. 

I am a current SingTel prepaid subscriber who for a long period wanted to switch to a postpaid subscription because of increased usage. I want to keep my existing prepaid phone number for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, phone number retention is currently not allowed for a change from prepaid to postpaid subscription, even within the same telco. According to the telco, this restriction comes from the authority. 

I would like to request IDA to consider including phone number portability for switching between prepaid and postpaid services, and vice versa. This would be true phone number portability. 

- Marvin Lim - 

I like to congratulate IDA in introducing Cellular Number portability. As an end user, we will benefit tremendously in our freedom to choose our mobile carriers. 

If I could have my wish list, I hope IDA should review the call plan for Roaming services provided by the 3 mobile operators. Call divert to +65 and voice mails services should be a local charge when roaming. As of now, all 3 mobile operators are billing them as International calls with Roaming Charges. There is absolutely no reason to bill this as an oversea call. 

Appreciate IDA review this situation as part of your on going process to protect consumer rights. 

- Sng Kim Hock - 

here are my views on the number portability ongoing review. I take a pro stance on the issue as a member of the public. 

1) I strongly disagree with the stance the 3 telcos are taking that porting numbers will be a financial burden on the public. In the first place, contact numbers are issued to them and can be taken back by IDA at any time with notice. Therefore they should not be of the view that the numbers belong to them for life. IDA can and should be able to take back and exchange any ontact number with another. Therefore the public having "bought" their contact numbers should be able to use the contact number on any telco network postpaid. Moreover, by having telcos face new challenges in number portability, this issue actually enables them to compete better and be able to face this challenge in other countries that they operate in. At the end of the day, quite simply, I should not be held hostage to the telco simply because I am a slave of its contact number. 

2) The current system of having the contact number forwarded to the next telco, thereby using two numbers is plain and simple, a pure waste of resources. This is not withstanding the fact that the subscriber cannot receive SMS, MMS, and other applications, thereby creating a farce of number portability. 

3) Cost of system. As reported the costs of setting up a system has gone down a lot since the issue was visited last a few years back. Its in the region of 10 million now. We have a million post paid subscribers in singapore. At the very most we do a one time levy of $10 per subscriber spread out at a dollar over 10 months and we'll have the money required for setting up the system. I for one do not believe the bull the telcos are feeding about costs being very prohibitive. If it were that expensive, no country in the world would do it, but looking at the landscape, other countries are getting their act together and creating/have created number portability systems. 

4) It does not reflect well on Singapore that we are still dragging our feet on this issue when we set so high standards for ourselves in leading the region in future technology. 

5) IDA, please set forward your motion to create the number portability system now and not delay any longer. 

- Terence Yang -