The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) will enhance the Number Portability1 regime here so that consumers can benefit from greater choice and flexibility in mobile and fixed line services.
Singapore, 02 August 2006 | For Immediate Release
Mobile and Fixed Line Markets Set for Greater Competition
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) will enhance the Number Portability1 regime here so that consumers can benefit from greater choice and flexibility in mobile and fixed line services. From the fourth quarter of 2007, consumers can switch between telecoms service providers easily and yet have full use of their existing number, rather than having to update family members, friends and business contacts about a new one. Beyond that, the new solution will spell greater competition among the telecoms service providers and business opportunities in Singapore's telecoms market.
Currently, mobile subscribers can switch telecoms service providers and keep their numbers. But he gets in essence a call-forwarding service as a call to his old number is routed to his new one. His contacts will see only this new number when he makes out-going calls and sends messages (SMS). The drawback with this is that their recipients see an unrecognisable new number and may even ignore the calls or SMSes. He is also not able to receive MMSes on his original number with such a solution.
Under a true Number Portability regime, these inconveniences and limitations will be eliminated. Consumers will only use one number, no matter how many times he changes telecoms service providers. This reduces or cuts out barriers that presently deter consumers from switching telecoms service providers. Such a move will also keep the Singapore telecoms market keenly competitive and relevant to future market developments.
IDA Deputy Chief Executive and Director-General (Telecoms) Leong Keng Thai said: "A telephone number has become a highly personal item, as consumers treasure the numbers they have shared with long-time business associates, friends and family. Being able to keep the number means convenience, while allowing a consumer to enjoy the choices the liberalised Singapore telecoms market offers. Telecoms service providers in turn could offer more compelling reasons to attract new customers or keep their existing customers."
The move is timely as Singapore's iN2015 infocomm masterplan2 is being implemented. With iN2015's plans for a Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure, new capabilities and services, such as services and networks inter-operability and location-based services, are expected. A true Number Portability regime will be well-placed to support the evolution of such next-generation needs. It may also encourage new business possibilities in the converged voice and data space, for new players, including non-telecom ones.
The Three Key Changes to the Present Regime, in Place Since April 19973, are:
a. IDA will introduce a common centralised database approach4 for operators to provide number portability for fixed line services, post- and pre-paid mobile services. This is a more robust, effective and efficient approach in the long run5. The centralised database will be independently-run and open access;
b. One number is all consumers will have when they switch between mobile service providers. Switching between mobile operators should also take about one day, compared with five days currently for a switch;
c. Fixed line operators must stop recurring monthly porting service charges. Consumers who want to port their fixed line telephone number to a new fixed line service provider will need pay only a one-time administrative charge to them. Mobile service providers stopped such recurrent charges in June 2003.
Operators will have to enhance their number portability solution by the fourth quarter of 2007. This enhancement will include appointing a neutral centralised database administrator by IDA, developing this database, and upgrades in operators' networks and provisioning systems.
|True Number Portability from 4th Quarter 2007|
IDA's decision follows a public review last September of the number portability solutions for mobile and fixed line services. Thirty-six members of the public and 10 industry players made submissions. Consumers expressed unequivocal support of the proposed enhancements. They consider it a timely move and look forward to the freedom to switch.
Their sentiments were echoed in the findings of a Consumer Awareness and Satisfaction Survey6, commissioned by the IDA last year. Most of the respondents said being able to keep their number is a critical consideration when switching telecoms service providers. Of those who switched or considered switching but did not, many said that the high one-time administrative charge, having two-numbers and the inability to receive MMS on their original number after porting were key deterrents.
IDA also commissioned a cost-benefit analysis earlier this year, which showed the benefits of the new number portability solution will outweigh the implementation costs over the long term7.
Following today's decision, the IDA will establish a Number Portability Working Committee. That group will comprise IDA, the service providers and other relevant parties such as the Centralised Database Administrator after its appointment. Together, they will oversee the implementation of true Number Portability.
Mr Leong said: "IDA's decision will ensure that it continues to effectively serve the infocomm market, facilitate market entry, and promote further competition and developments."
More details on IDA's decision on the review of the number portability solutions for both fixed line and mobile services can be found at IDA's website, in the sections "Policy & Regulation", "Consultation Papers".
ISSUED BY CORPORATE & MARKETING COMMUNICATION DIVISION
INFOCOMM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE
Notes to Editor:
1 Number Portability is the ability for telephone users to retain their current telephone numbers, when they switch from one telecom service provider to another telecoms service provider.
2 Intelligent Nation 2015, or iN2015, is Singapore's sixth and latest infocomm masterplan. Its vision is to transform the country into an Intelligent Nation, A Global City, powered by infocomm by the year 2015. It was launched on 20 June 2006, by Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts Lee Boon Yang, at the annual Infocomm Media Business Exchange, or imbX.
3 A Brief History of Number Portability in Singapore:
April 1997: Singapore introduced Mobile Number Portability via a Call Forwarding solution
April 2000: Fixed-Number Portability introduced, along with the start of the liberalisation of Singapore's telecoms market
June 2003: IDA tells Mobile Operators to stop recurring monthly porting fees and to provide SMS portability
August 2006: IDA issues decision to enhance Number Portability solution
4Q 2007: Singapore to have true Number Portability solution
4 Singapore was one of the first in the world when it offered consumers number portability in 1997. That solution has served the mobile market well. However, better number porting technology has since become more readily available and cost-effective to deploy, such that other countries have leveraged it to enhance their own telecoms market. The United States of America, most European countries and South Africa have adopted the Central Database approach. In the Asia-Pacific, Australia, Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia have also, or are planning for such a database in their markets.
5 Call Forwarding is the current method used to connect a caller to a ported mobile subscriber. Calls are first routed to the ported mobile subscriber's previous operator. The previous operator, upon checking its own database, will forward this call to the ported mobile subscriber's new operator, which would then complete the call. With a Central Database system, the Originating Operator will directly check that repository of numbers, which has information on ported numbers, and connect a call to the ported mobile subscriber's new operator. This is deemed more efficient and importantly, beneficial for the telecom sector in the long run as it can better support more complex routings expected from the next-generation services and applications.
6 The Consumer Awareness & Satisfaction Survey 2005 measured usage and awareness of, and satisfaction with selected telecoms services in Singapore. In total, 1,500 individuals were interviewed between 22 October and 5 December 2005. They were selected through a two-stage stratified design: (a) A sample of 1,500 households were selected from the Household Sampling Frame maintained by the Department of Statistics; and (b) An individual was then selected from this sample for the survey.
7 Using the current situation as the baseline case, the new true number portability Centralised Database solution could result in an estimated direct net economic gain of S$34m to S$240m to the economy over 10 years. This is based on conservative estimates of about 5% and 10% annual MNP porting rate. The estimated cost of the Centralised Database stands at S$10m or less. Estimates of the full implementation costs, including database integration will be determined once the RFP is finalised.
About Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is committed to growing Singapore into a dynamic global infocomm hub. IDA uses an integrated approach to developing infocommunications in Singapore. This involves nurturing a competitive telecoms market as well as a conducive business environment with programmes and schemes for both local and international companies. For more news and information, visit https://www.imda.gov.sg/
For media clarification, please contact:
Mr HO Ka Wei
Manager, Corporate & Marketing Communications
Fax : 6211 2227